lunes, 11 de julio de 2016

NATO meeting: most of the discussions have not been about NATO issues

F-35 Could Be Deployed To Mideast Soon; Brexit Dominates NATO Summit


LONDON: Gen. Hawk Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command, pulled no punches when I asked him at the Royal International Air Tattoo if the F-35’s flying displays in Britain should be read as a signal to Russia. “Yes. You bet.”

Several generals at the Royal International Air Tattoo agreed with Carlisle’s view that the plane’s appearance at RIAT and at tomorrow’s Farnborough Air Show are intended as demonstration to Vladimir Putin’s regime that the United States and its allies stand ready to deter with the F-35, NATO’s newest fifth generation fighter. Carlisle also made clear the F-35A could be deployed to Europe or the Middle East soon after declaration of Initial Operating Capability (IOC).

“We have a capability plan that we are working on that would first see the F-35 deployed on a TSP (Theater Security Package) to either Europe or the Pacific. Will it be in the Middle East? Yes, absolutely. That isn’t in our near-term plan, but I would send the F-35 into combat in a heartbeat if a commander asked for it.”

Carlisle said plans for the TSP are detailed, adding that there is a clear calendar set out to ensure the planes can be sent to Europe next year. And they could be sent to the Middle East as soon as a TSP is put together for that region. F-22s are currently flying over Syria and Iraq, and Carlisle noted their speed makes them more survivable against advanced surface to air threats such as the Russian S-400. He didn’t mention it, but the F-35 is the first US plane with a requirement that it be able to defeat advanced SAM threats.

Meanwhile, the NATO summit and the Farnborough Air Show were largely dominated not by talk of Russia but of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, known as Brexit.

“It’s probably not an exaggeration to say there is no other subject on the table when I get together with my colleagues,” the Sunday Observer newspaper here quoted British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Warsaw. “We are in a NATO meeting but most of the discussions have not been about NATO issues. They have been about the outcome of the referendum and the consequences of that.”


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