The intent of the U.S.A.F. is to use the Lockheed F-35 Lightning II at high
altitudes, where it will be out of the range of small arms fire, to
provide ground support. It will not be defending our ground troops by
attacking enemy tanks, armor, or fortified positions, like the A-10
that it is supposed to be replacing, unless it can be safe from surface
to air missiles, anti aircraft, and small arms which may be used against
it. Rather, from its high altitude position, it will gather
intelligence about battlefield conditions that will be downloaded upon landing.
F-35 and F-22 Fighters
The U.S. Air Force says that, when flying over enemy territory, up to eight
Lockheed F-35 aircraft would operate in support of each other with two
F-22 air superiority fighters providing top cover. Each aircraft would
be equipped for a specific duty, such as intelligence gathering,
electronic counter measures, air to air defense, and ground attack.
The USAF believes that the overall capabilities of the eight F-35
aircraft along with two air superiority fighters working together will
make up for the F-35's lack of abilities while operating separately.