General wants ‘Manhattan-Project’ to engage as next-generation hunter

AFA NEWS: General wants ‘Manhattan Project’ like pledge to next-generation hunter

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NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland – The Chief of Air Combat Command of the Air Force would like to see more funding and a national approach to developing a sixth generation jet fighter.

General Mark Kelly said on September 22 that coming in second behind an opponent in the development of a fifth-generation fighter jet such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was not a good place to be. .

“We don’t want to be on the other side of second place when it comes to air superiority,” he told reporters in a briefing at the Air, Space and Cyber ​​Air conference. Force Association.

Opponents such as Russia and China are presumably working on sixth generation fighters, as are American allies such as the UK with its Tempest program, which is being carried out in partnership with Italy, Sweden and possibly Japan.

The US Air Force is continuing its covert next-generation air domination program, also known as NGAD, which would involve two or more aircraft models in a family of systems. A year ago, former Air Force chief Will Roper said a prototype of an NGAD platform had already flown.

But Kelly said he would like to see the development “go faster”.

“I wish I had more of a sense of urgency and a nationwide effort in this regard,” he said, something akin to the Manhattan Project that developed the first nuclear weapons during the Second World War.

He continued the comparison with the atomic bomb, saying the developers of the Manhattan Project knew coming in second “would be a terrible place to be.”

“We are dusting enemy planes or scaring them so much that they bury themselves,” he said.

Assuming adversaries will eventually deploy their own next-gen aircraft, Kelly said he wants at least a wide margin between the US coming first and them behind.

“Do I think we’re going to put him on the pitch?” Yes. Do I think we will build it before our opponents? Yes. Do I know that we will build it before them? … I would like to sleep comfortably knowing that we have a very good margin, ”he said.

When asked if he would like to see more funding, Kelly replied “yes”.

The army pivots towards competition from the great powers. Resources should follow, he added. “You will only pivot to high-powered competition when you pivot resources to high-powered abilities. It is a great capacity of power.

When asked how it would feel if an ally’s sixth generation system, like the UK’s Tempest, was deployed first, Kelly replied that this was something he didn’t have. thought a lot. The Tempest program aims to field its first aircraft in the mid-2030s. In a September 21 meeting with reporters at the conference, US Lt. Gen. Duke Richardson, military assistant in the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics declined to say when the service plans to start deploying NGAD systems, but said the program “is progressing according to plan.”

“Coming second to an ally is head and shoulders above coming second to an opponent,” Kelly said. “But I would also say, if you ask [six] people their definition of a sixth generation, you can get six answers. “

The subjects: Air Power, Air Force News

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