A laser at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Starfire Optical Range in New Mexico. U.S. Army photo Precision-guided missile swarms are the main threat, and that requires a big rethink by ROBERT BECKHUSEN The U.S. Air Force relies on more than 5,000 aircraft to give it unmatched dominance over every other... Read more
The X-2. Japan Ministry of Defense photo Tokyo hopes the experimental aircraft will become a front-line warplane by RODRIGO UGARTE Mitsubishi’s X-2 stealth demonstrator jet took off on the morning of April 22, propelling Japan into the stealth age. Designed to test new technologies, chief among them low observability, the X-2... Read more
Teams of F-22 Stealth Fighters Troll Russia
In 2013, the U.S. Air Force’s Alaska-based 3rd Wing devised a new way to deploy its F-22 Raptor stealth fighters in order to make them more survivable in a war with China. Now the “Rapid Raptor” concept has a new goal — to deter Russian aggression. The 3rd Wing’s scheme... Read more
Congress wants to restart production of the world’s best stealth fighter, but it’s likely too late by DAVE MAJUMDAR The House Armed Services Committee is directing the U.S. Air Force to look at the possibility of restarting production of the stealthy, supersonically cruising Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter in... Read more
2018: The Year U.S. Fighter Pilots Could Get Drone Wingmen
The U.S. Air Force is developing new computer algorithms to allow fighter pilots to control armed drones from inside their own cockpits. The goal of the so-called “Loyal Wingman” initiative is to pair up manned, fifth-generation stealth fighters with unmanned versions of older jets — in order to boost... Read more
The U.S. Air Force’s Parasite Fighter Was a Bad Idea
Yes, the title sucks. But I love — love — Steve Pace’s The Big Book of X-Bombers and X-Fighters, out now from Zenith Press. “It takes a brave author to write a comprehensive review of every turbojet-powered Air Force fighter and bomber, produced or not,” Walter Boyne, himself a... Read more
How to Make a Vertical-Takeoff Plane That Doesn’t Suck
In early March, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced it was awarding a contract to Virginia-based Aurora Flight Sciences to develop a small robotic demonstrator aircraft as part of phase two of DARPA’s Vertical Takeoff and Landing X-Plane initiative. “For decades, aircraft designers seeking to improve vertical... Read more
Business as usual for the Pentagon by DAN GRAZIER At a recent House Armed Services Committee hearing, Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, a deputy in the U.S. Air Force’s acquisitions office, fielded a question from Guam representative Madeleine Bordallo about the decision to use a riskier cost-plus contract rather than a fixed-price... Read more
Imagine F-16s Deploying Swarms of Tiny Drones
In the middle of June 2015, a U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter took off from an air base in Alaska and flew over a military training range at 430 miles per hour. On command, something burst from the fighter’s flare dispenser — a drone roughly the size of a... Read more
But the expensive prototype did lead to better planes by JOSEPH TREVITHICK The U.S. Air Force has been especially tight-lipped about the specifics of its upcoming Long Range Strike Bomber. The Northrop Grumman-designed plane doesn’t even have an official nickname, yet. But we do know one thing — its designation. The B-21. “The... Read more
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