By Richard Lawrence
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One of the contenders for the Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) dropped into Ottawa Airport as Lockheed Martin had two F-35As from the F-35A Demonstration Team drop in for a quick media brief in advance of its attendance at the 2019 Aero Gatineau-Ottawa Airshow. The aircraft did not do any high speed passes or any aerobatics but simply came in and landed, taxied in, and then had Capt. Andrew ‘Dojo” Olson, the F-35 Demonstration Team Commander/Pilot for the 2019 Airshow Season, come and talk to the media. Capt. Olson flew the F-15E Strike Eagle prior to his duties on the F-35 where he flew missions in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan prior coming aboard the F-35 three years ago.
When asked about the F-35 he said that compared to the F-15E, the F-35 is “… an entire generation leap forward in technology.” It’s the combination of stealth and sensor fusion that makes the aircraft so advanced enabling the pilot to see everything and yet not be seen by anybody giving him/her complete control of the battlespace. The aircraft is covered in sensors looking outward at all times presenting the accumulated data to the pilot allowing him to make decisions not just for himself but for the entire four plane formation. It can then take the data from all four aircraft to create information fusion and that information can be sent out making the F-35 the quarterback of the battlespace. When asked if he trusted his life to the aircraft he said, “If I had to go into a serious conflict, this airplane for sure would be more lethal and survivable …”
He noted that there are eight partner nations involved in the F-35 development (Canada being one) and several other countries who are purchasing the jets (foreign military sales) and that makes for a “… more effective fighting force when you’re flying with your friends and … you all have the same airplane and you all speak the same language – that’s F-35.”
Capt. Olson summed up his opinion of the aircraft when he said, “You’re just King Kong out there. You’re just untouchable.”