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An F-35 assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB, Ariz., accelerates through the evening sky. Air Force photo by A1C Shan Ridge.

​Critics have to stop thinking of the F-35 as merely the new fighter that replaces the worn-out 1980​s-vintage F-16, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said Wednesday. Speaking at an AFA Mitchell Institute event, Work said the F-35  is “not a fighter. It is a ‘BN-35,’ a Battle Network-35. It is a sensor computer node in the  distributed campaign battle network that causes the decisions of the pilots to be so much better than [that of] the adversary and also provides enormous benefit to the battle network” by distributing vast amounts of information to the joint force.