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Opinion | Modernizing our military and creating good paying jobs

The United States needs more F-35 Lightning II fighters. There is not a smarter investment.

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When President Biden talks about “modernizing our military to safeguard stability and deter aggression” as he did in his State of the Union, it seems obvious to me that he is talking about making smart investments in our armed forces. When he spoke about building a middle class powered economy “from the bottom up and the middle out” in the same speech, it seems clear that the United States needs to create good paying jobs. The F-35 Lightning II does both. It intimidates our enemies, strengthens our alliances, and puts food on the table for skilled workers in nearly every state, especially here in Alabama. Seldom does a President have the opportunity to accomplish so many goals at once.  

The capabilities of our most advanced 5th generation fighter jet are incredible and for many, were once thought of as impossible. The combination of very low observable stealth, advanced sensors, information fusion and network connectivity – all packaged within in a supersonic, long range, highly maneuverable fighter is a testament to the ingenuity of the businesses, small and large alike, working collectively to build the F-35. There are more than 1,600 suppliers in the United States making the F-35 a reality every single day. That is hundreds of good paying jobs in Alabama and hundreds of thousands across the nation. 

Endeavoring to provide solutions to what others call impossible is what Radiance Technologies does every day. We are inspired by the F-35 and its ability to outperform adversaries that are rapidly advancing. The solutions developed at Radiance Technologies provides innovation for our customers facing equally challenging environments and as Chief Executive Officer, I am proud to set the strategic direction of our company, but I would not be where I am today without my fourteen years of service in the United States Air Force.  My military experience as a B-52 aircraft maintenance technician taught me invaluable lessons that I carry with me every day.  I am forever grateful to the Air Force for the investment they made in me, so it is troubling to hear that America’s air superiority is in jeopardy.

“The Air Force lacks the force capacity, lethality, and survivability needed to fight a major war with China,” is how the Mitchell Institute described our defense readiness in a detailed report last year. Equipping our soldiers with the technology needed to defend us starts with making the right investments. As a former airman, the choice could not be clearer to me: the Air Force needs more F-35 Lightning II fighters.  The F-35 delivers unmatched air power that, as adversaries advance and legacy aircraft age, is critical to maintaining air dominance now and for decades to come. The F-35 also enhances global partnerships and powers economic growth at home. It is the most lethal, survivable, and connected fighter aircraft in the world, giving airmen an advantage against any adversary so they can execute their mission and come home safe. 

Since I joined Radiance Technologies in 2001, it has been my privilege to provide our armed services with the most advanced technology we can offer. Our employees are constantly innovating and refining to bring our very best to the table. The same is true of every supply chain company building the F-35, making it the pinnacle of warfighter technology. It is the cornerstone of our Air Force, delivering an unrivaled advantage to our pilots while at the same time creating and sustaining jobs at home. There is not a smarter investment. The United States needs more F-35 Lightning II fighters.

Bill Bailey is Chief Executive Officer of Radiance Technologies.

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