Keeping the Edge

It’s going to be a long time before the US military faces an operational stealth fighter, said Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander. Russia, India, and China may be working on “first concepts,” but an operational platform is still “a long way off,” said North Thursday during an Air Force Association-sponsored Air Force Breakfast Series presentation in Arlington, Va. The F-22, he said, is the perfect example. Lockheed Martin first flew the Raptor in the early 1990s, the Air Force declared the F-22 ready for combat in 2005, and the service just purchased its final four Raptors in Fiscal 2010. Air forces around the world are going to continue modernizing their fleets and increasing weapons capabilities and integration, so the United States needs to make sure it doesn’t get left behind, said North. “If we are called to fight, we don’t ever want to go into an environment where we aren’t at equality with an adversary. We always want that technological and human edge,” he said.