It’s appears our “president” doesn’t understand that the stealth capabilities of an F-35 fighter jet aren’t the same thing as a cloaking device.
Donald Trump gave a speech from the White House on Thursday in which he spoke about providing support for veterans and military families. But at one point, Trump went on a tangent about his admiration for America’s military aircraft, especially the F-35.
“Just gave out a tremendous order for brand new F-35’s. They are stealth. You can’t see them, other than this, they are easy to beat. I said to one of the pilots, ‘how good are these?’ He said, ‘sir, the problem is you can’t see them when you fight them.’ I said ‘that sounds like a big advantage.’ They said ‘it’s an awfully big advantage.’ Incredible equipment.”
Now of course, the F-35 is not invisible, and this isn’t even the first time Trump has spoken of F-35s as if they cannot be seen with the naked eye.
In a visit with Coast Guardsmen in Puerto Rico last November, Trump said the F-35 was “almost like an invisible fighter…You can’t see it. You literally can’t see it. It’s hard to fight a plane you can’t see.”
Technically speaking, the F-35 is a low observable stealth aircraft. As the F-35 program’s own website points out, “Stealth is not invisibility. Rather, stealth gives the F-35 the ability to elude or greatly complicate an enemy’s ability to find and destroy an aircraft using a combination of design, tactics, and technology.”
These sorts of statements are both worrying and embarrassing, not least of which because they could easily send the wrong message to our allies, enemies, and the general public. It’s even more concerning given Trump’s propensity to make casual offhand threats of military action in public settings without any clear indication of how serious he might be or other useful context.
If he is basing those kind of statements, and potentially policy decisions, on an inaccurate view of America’s actual military capabilities or other misreadings of events, he might unintentionally put the country in unnecessarily risky situations. It also hurts the United States’ credibility for other, more knowledgeable senior officials to have to later clarify or walk back these statements, which might also lead to dangerous confusion about what the actual facts are further down the line.
🚨 Trump still hasn't figured out that stealth planes aren't literally invisible 🚨 pic.twitter.com/VTWbAIhqdV
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 15, 2018