An F-35 can trash half a dozen 80’s-era planes without difficulty and fly back unharmed. What it can’t do is fight 200 P-51 Mustangs.
.. Swarms of cheap unmanned planes are a different matter: you can construct a military-grade drone capable of carrying a grenade-sized warhead for $1500, so the choice is between one F-35 or a swarm of 100,000 drones.
.. Now, the swarm can’t beat the F-35 in air-to-air combat – it’s way too slow – but the F-35 does not dare getting close to what is in effect a flying minefield of lethal kamikaze obstacles all eager to collide with it. And thanks to solar power, the small drones have long range and endurance, and can simply form a killer cloud around airfields, waiting for anything to emerge so they can blow it up on the tarmac.
The Navy is already building its first drone swarms in a project called LOCUST:
.. The Chinese or Russians may be the first to take advantage of the new technology.