Operating a mixed fleet of legacy aircraft and stealth platforms places a premium on finding the optimal integration of those assets in order to succeed in operations in a highly contested battlespace, said Col. Michael Fantini, division chief for combat force application in USAF headquarters, Thursday. Since it’s simply not affordable for the Air Force to pursue an all-stealth force right now, it will possess that mixed force. “The key then is going to be to integrate that,” Fantini told attendees at the Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies’ discussion of stealth in Arlington, Va. Fantini said work at Red Flag exercises to develop the concept of operations and tactics, techniques, and procedures for such integrated force packages has been fruitful. “We are learning a lot of lessons on how that goes and we will continue to,” he said. This event coincided with the release of the Mitchell Study, The Radar Game: Understanding Stealth and Aircraft Survivability (caution, large-sized file), by Rebecca Grant, Mitchell Institute director. This study is a republication of an essay that Grant wrote back in 1998.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.