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
U.S. Air Force announces designation … and little else by JOSEPH TREVITHICK We still don’t know much about the U.S. Air Force’s upcoming stealth bomber. But at least now, we know what the flying branch is officially calling it and what it might look like. On Feb. 26, Secretary of the Air... Read more
U.S. Air Force Arsenal Plane Could Help Outgun China
The U.S. military is considering developing a so-called “arsenal plane” to accompany stealth fighters into combat, hauling large numbers of munitions in order to significantly boost the stealthy planes’ firepower. The arsenal-plane concept, announced by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in a Feb. 2 speech previewing the Pentagon’s 2017 budget... Read more
JLENS. U.S. Army photo Blame Canada by JOSEPH TREVITHICK On Oct. 28, two F-16 fighter jets from the New Jersey Air National Guard took off and headed for eastern Pennsylvania. Their mission — intercept a rogue U.S. Army missile defense blimp that had broken loose from its moorings. One can only guess... Read more
Argentina Just Can’t Manage to Buy Fighters
In the early 1980s, Argentina’s air force and navy together represented the most powerful air arm in Latin America. Then came the Falklands War, international sanctions and economic recession. From a peak of more than 400 combat aircraft in ’82, today Buenos Aires can muster fewer than 250 warplanes,... Read more
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