SPEED IS LIFE: WHY MACH and MANEUVERABILITY DOMINATE IN 2030
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE MAXWELL AFB United States
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The next generation of fighter aircraft should possess a supersonic capability, maneuverability superior to that of US potential adversary aircraft, and incorporate new directed energy weapons technology. Enemy technology continues to evolve and challenge US stealth technology, and the current medium range air-to-air missiles in service. These capabilities and technology ensure lethality and survivability in counterair operations against these high end-threats. A scenario framework sets the stage for each of four possible future fighters to engage in high-end combat. The thesis then describes the four platforms discusses the tradeoffs in capabilities and the resultant risks and rewards of equipping the next generation fighter with various capabilities. These traits include slownon-maneuverable vs. fastagile aerodynamic traits and the application of kinetic weapons vs. directed energy weapons to each of the two aerodynamic possibilities. A final qualitative scoring of the platforms risks and rewards in lethality, survivability and projection range supports the thesis recommendations on which aircraft best meets these requirements. The thesis concludes with recommendations for US and USAF leadership to bring the best asset to fruition and opportunities for further research.
- Directed Energy Weapons
- Attack and Fighter Aircraft