The Air Force is launching a study “to look at air superiority” in the 2030 timeframe, said Lt. Gen. Mike Holmes, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements. There’s “a lot of work that’s already been done that we’ll bring together” under the study, to determine what control of the air looks like 15 years hence, Holmes told defense reporters at a Pentagon briefing on Feb. 6. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has made investments in underlying technologies and so has DOD, writ large, said Holmes. “We just don’t want to jump straight to the [analysis of alternatives] on the next airplane before we’ve looked across the range of ways to do, it,” he said. It’s hard to say how much the Air Force is spending on potential sixth generation fighter technologies because “there are things that might be applied” to more than one area, such as hypersonics, directed energy, and a new adaptive engine, said Holmes. “That’s part of why we haven’t lumped it together in a program,” he said. (See also Ahead of the New Offset Strategy and Defining Sixth Generation Fighters.)
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