From: Washington, D.C.
I've seen the "debate" before. I made it about 45 seconds into Sprey speaking before I turned it off.
To understand what's so revolutionary, I highly encourage you to check out Patterns of Conflict by Boyd. One of the first slides:
Exploit operations and weapons that:
–Generate a rapidly changing environment (quick/clear observations, orientation and decisions, fast-tempo, fast transient maneuvers, quick kill)
–Inhibit an adversary’s capacity to adapt to such an environment (cloud or distort his observations, orientation, and decisions and impede his actions)
Simultaneously compress own time and stretch-out adversary time to generate a favorable mismatch in time/ability to shape and adapt to change
Collapse adversary’s system into confusion and disorder causing him to over and under react to activity that appears simultaneously menacing as well as ambiguous,chaotic, or misleading.
This is how the US plans to fight it's next conventional war, and the F-35 is really the ultimate embodiment of these ideas. Some quick bullets...
1. VLO: This serves two purposes: provides the F-35 with decision time/space, allowing to to make better decisions, and it reduces the adversary's ability to observe the F-35.
2. Multiple Local Sensors: I can't think of any other airplane that has an AESA radar, 720° IRST, long-range EO/IR and a world class ESM/SIGINT system. These systems fulfill the "quick/clear observations" requirement.
3. Local Sensor Fusion: The capability to blend all of these sensors into a single trackfile eliminates the need for an operator to do this manually. Instead of comparing azimuths between an FCR/RWR to classify a threat, the operator can immediately be thinking about what that threat means and how to counter it.
4. Access/Common Operating Picture (COP): The ability to pass the local sensor fusion into the network and receive other aircraft's information enables F-35's to rapidly focus on adversary weaknesses.
The F-22 is fundamentally similar, except it's missing the IRST and the LR EO/IR systems. When Lt. Col. Berke talks about contributions to the battlespace, he's talking about how the first 3 bullets build to the 4th - a platform has to have useful data to offer the picture ; VLO enables physical access, sensors enable observation and local fusion gives a platform useful data to contribute. Beyond contributions to the COP, there's a whole range of missions that a 5th Gen platform can complete within a given ATO. For example a single 5th gen fighter might be tasked with a strike mission, but it can also offer targeting data to geographically separate AAW shooters, provide in-band EW support for other packages and even do AAW on it's own. This is phenomenal, when a few decades ago even if platforms could do multiple missions (i.e. a Hornet can do AAW/Strike/SEAD, etc), they were rarely tasked with more than one mission per sortie. Red Flag reports have the F-35's staying in the airspace to support other aircraft after their primary strike is complete.