New Aviation Technologies are high on the radar of the Air Force. They have long made clear the fact they feel it’s vital to rapidly research and test bleeding edge aviation technologies that can give them a competitive edge against near-peer adversaries. The two biggest that come to mind are China and Russia. This needs to be accomplished while also prototyping new weapons for advanced fight.
They plan to start investing heavily in these newly emerging aviation technologies, its new budget request for Fiscal 2019 show how seriously they are taking this task. They have requested $504 million next year for its next-generation air dominance research, development, test and evaluation program, according to documents filed.
Something else not to be overlooked is In its Future Years Defense Program [FYDP for short], which shows the next five years of planned expenditures, the Air Force plans an investment of roughly $11 billion over the course of five years for RTD&E on next-gen aviation technologies.
What will massive investments in aviation technologies provide product wise?
“Under next-generation air dominance, we’re investing in a family of systems,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek stated in a recent interview “We’re going through the analysis of alternatives now, and that will help define the capabilities of the future.”
This service first made it’s debut in 2016’s Air Superiority 2030 road-map. This includes the sustainment of old fighters and new jets such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, all important issues to address. But it also outlines next-gen air dominance, defined as advanced fighter aircraft, sensors and/or weapons or all of the above. It’s important to keep in mind there is a growing and unpredictable threat environment across the globe today.
The Air Force’s next-gen Aviation Technologies may defy traditional labels.
As the Air Force powers that be went through the study, they specifically refrained from using the word “fighter”. The lead chief of strategic planning for the Air Superiority 2030 Enterprise Capabilities Collaboration Team, stated it’s important to let go of traditional terms when planning for the changes coming via new technologically.
Air combat has very little to do with fighter aircraft “dogfighting” in today’s modern era. It’s more about bringing a coordinated network to bear upon our opponents, and the attributes needed in terms of range, persistence, survivability, lethality.
Next-generation air dominance was once considered to be one in the same with penetrating counter air. To many people the concept of an advanced, stealthy and hypersonic fighter aircraft is the first thing that comes to mind.
The Air Force is determined to move away from the old “one-size-fits-all” thinking that dominated their programs in the past. They plan to move toward a family of systems approach.
Everything including munitions, lasers, sensors and speed are all on the table. A spokesperson for the Air Force said this week the air superiority focus coincides with a renewed emphasis on electronic warfare, networked capabilities, and control of the electromagnetic spectrum. Aviation Technologies need to be leading the pack, not playing catch up.
China is pushing to modernize
China is modernizing very quickly, they’re modernizing on every front. Not just restricted to their air defenses, also their air-to-air capability has really been modernized across the board. The speed in which China is modernizing is what is a threat for the U.S. Air Force, because the pace of their modernization is unlike anything we’ve seen in the past.
There has been clear recognition of the re-emergence of a power competition between the US and China.
For the Air Force, the effort now is across-the-board modernization to be able to operate in a highly contested environment. We must be vigilant and make sure our push into these new and emerging aviation technologies continue on a fast track to avoid falling behind other nations.