First, I hope it's ok to start a new thread.
I'd just like to add my two cents worth about the F-35/modern ACM environment debate as a life-long aviation nut, the son of a Marine jet & helicopter pilot, and (for what it's worth) the grandson of a Battle of Midway B-17 pilot & Pearl Harbor survivor. However, I am not a military pilot or defense sector worker so please pardon me if I sound totally ignorant. I just have a good eye for big picture stuff, and a sense for history. I'm sort of on the outside looking in.
The issue with regards to the Air Force seems to be cultural - not technical. It seems like the Air Force has been trying to prove itself ever since it's birth as an independent branch of the military. That might be wrong, but a habit I've noticed is for the Air Force to always want the most complicated plane possible. Perhaps this is because W.W.II demonstrated the vital importance technology.
The Air Force seems to not like to adhere to the K.I.S.S. principle. Thus, the grudge against the A-10. I remember some bean counters wanting to get rid of the A-10 sometime around 1989 - 90 without a suitable replacement. Just give its missions to the F-16. I thought "bad idea." Thank God that didn't happen because Desert Storm came and the A-10 really shined. A less sophisticated airplane excelled at helping to win a war. It still shines.
Douglas's designer Ed Heinemann adhered to the K.I.S.S. principal and produced great aircraft for the Navy like the SBD Dauntless, the A-1 Skyraider, and the A-4 Skyhawk - less relatively sophisticated planes during their respective time periods. All excelled with (as far as I know) high reliability rates, wonderful performance, and an ability to take damage. I'm not saying we should revert to 1950s/60s technology. I just think the Air Force would be served well if it tried to keep things as simple as possible. The simple Dauntless sank Japanese carriers which my Grandpa's more sophisticated B-17s (with the vaunted Norden bomb sight) completely missed.
To be fair though, I submit what an F4U Corsair veteran and test pilot for the A-37/T-37 program once told me: "What makes an airplane fly? Money."
So ... financial constraints force the military services to still try to make a tactical plane be a jack-of-all-trades. It seems only increases in the military budget will allow for more mission specific designs like the A-10. My Dad flew the F-4 Phantom - an obviously famous multi-role jet. He said it was excellent at what it was originally designed to do: point defense interception. You had to force it to be a dogfighter or attack bird. He also seemed to allude to it's sophistication by saying he never flew a full systems F-4. There was always a squawk of some sort with it's avionics/radar system. He also flew the TA-4F Skyhawk a lot. By comparison, it was trouble free.
I just hope newer jets like the F-22 and the F-35 don't become the "Tiger Tanks" of the modern ACM environment. It just seems like planes that adhere to the K.I.S.S. principle are more reliable & successful.
Do you really need a Surgeon rifle with a Night Force scope ($$$) to shoot that trophy buck, or will a .30-30 do the job? I propose that for attack missions the .30-30 will do just fine. For air superiority, however, you do need the Surgeon rifle. Trouble can come when one mixes the two. Keep a S.E.A.D. /Wild Weasel capability in specialized aircraft. You want a plane to really excel in that role.
I suggest, however, that we continue developing U.C.A.V.s to fulfill the attack and fighter roles so you don't need manned tactical aircraft anymore (or not as many). I also suggest that somehow we develop weapons that can be dropped by satellites onto certain types of targets so we don't need attack planes or drones. Use G.P.S. and miniature M.I.R.V.s.
I sincerely hope my points are valid. Again ... I'm just a layman.