Russia Wants America To Know That Its F-35s "Will Never Be Alone" In Europe

Mark Episkopos

Key point: Russia has plans for the F-35.

In a move that would raise eyebrows even by Cold War standards of political saber-rattling, the Russian Embassy in Washington seemed to threaten America’s F-35 fighter with Vietnam-era propaganda footage.

Back in February, the official handle of the Russian Embassy in the US tweeted the following update:

'If a Russia... ever was to see an F-35 inside its airspace', we would love to send Chief of Staff of the @usairforce Gen. David L. Goldfein 'message with two words' — ‘remember Vietnam'
'An F-35 will never be alone'

As observed by Foxtrot Alpha, the tweet is a direct reference to a recent Brookings Institution lecture given by Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein. During his talk, General Goldfein gave this assessment of the F-35’s capabilities:

“If a China or a Russia or another adversary on the globe ever were to see an F-35 inside their airspace,” Goldfein said. “I would love to send them all messages with two words — ‘we’re here. “It’s not ‘I’m here,’” he said. “An F-35 will never be alone.”

Several outlets have offered important insight into Goldfein’s speech, noting that his comments came on the heels of a successful F-35s performance at the annual Red Flag exercise in Nevada. At the same Brookings event, Goldfein stressed  that the F-35 exceeded “our expectations when it comes to not only being able to survive, but to prosecute targets."

Less covered, however, is the context behind the Russian response. On the surface, it’s clearly a play-on-words intended as a dig at the F-35’s stealth capabilities; that is, an F-35 “will never be alone” in Russian airspace because Russian anti-air systems will detect it.

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