Next Fighter Plan

The Air Force is deliberately waiting to launch a next-generation fighter program, until it considers all the ways that air superiority will be achieved in 20 years, Air Combat Command chief Gen. Hawk Carlisle said Thursday. The “capabilities of some potential adversaries has grown pretty rapidly” and is a “huge challenge … especially when you get out to 2020-2025,” Carlisle told reporters at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando. “Instead of just talking ‘F-X,’” or starting yet another analysis of alternatives, Carlisle said USAF is going back to “capability developmental planning,” something the service “kind of got out of” with the demise of Air Force Systems Command. The first capability collaboration team, or CCT, that will explore “cross-spectrum, cross-domain” approaches to defeating future threats “is going to be Air Superiority 2030,” Carlisle reported. A sixth-generation fighter “will be part of that discussion,” as will “multi-domain access.” The review will include cyber, stealth, lasers, high-powered microwaves, and new weapons; especially longer-ranged missiles with the ability to function in heavy electronic warfare conditions. “Air dominance in that timeframe may not solely be an aircraft. It’s a family of systems,” Carlisle said.