American F-35 pilots are conducting drills in open spaces using computer simulation to better learn how to counter Russian air defences, specifically S-400s, as well as the latest Chinese developments in this sphere, the National Interest reported citing Pentagon officials. As a part of these drills, the pilots are learning to take on aerial targets "off-boresight" with AIM-9X missiles, allowing them to engage such targets at distances outside the direct line of sight, thereby potentially avoiding being detected and shot down by ground defences.
The pilots are reportedly preparing to fight not only modern systems, like S-400s, but also trying to be ready for systems that have yet to be developed in case hostilities against countries possessing such technologies emerge.
"They have got these digital SAMS [surface-to-air-missile-systems] out there that can change frequencies and they are very agile in how they operate. Being able to replicate that [in simulations] is not easy", Jeffrey Harrigian, former Director of the F-35 Integration Office, said.
It doesn't necessarily mean that the US Air Force is expecting hostilities with either Russia or China, as Harrigian explained, but that the Pentagon is more concerned about the buyers of technology from these two countries. In just the past few years, both India and Turkey, a US NATO ally, inked contracts with Russia for S-400 supplies.
The report comes a day after another statement by Harrigian, who claimed that the US Air Force has a plan to penetrate and destroy the Integrated Air Defence System in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow sees such statements as a threat, while the Defence Ministry said that such statements should mainly concern his immediate subordinates.
"The frivolity of Gen. Jeffrey Lee Harrigian and his naive belief in the superiority of some 'plans' for the conquest of Kaliningrad should concern, first of all, his immediate subordinates who seem to know better one of the main commandments of military commanders is 'no battle plan survives contact with the enemy'", the Russian military statement said.
Previously, the Defence Blog reported that the Pentagon is extending the use of computer modelling and even virtual and augmented reality technologies for training purposes. The US Defence Department is eyeing to produce VR training systems for the next generation of its military vehicles, namely for the Future Vertical Lift Helicopter and Next-Generation Combat Vehicle programmes.