The Air Force is moving forward with plans to replace the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter with a more agile, stealthy, and fuel-efficient aircraft.
That’s a big change for the service.
The Joint Strike fighter was the first of several fighter aircraft in the Air Force to be cancelled, and the Air National Guard also received a $5 billion cancellation fee.
The Air National Guardsmen who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are the backbone of the service, but many of them were deployed to the Middle East.
The service has been looking for ways to reduce the reliance on F-16s, F-18s, and F-15s for years.
“The Joint Strike is going to be replaced by an F-22, an F/A-18, an EF-18E/F, an A-10, an AWACS, and an EA-18G, and then the E-2C Hawkeye will be used for the EW,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said at the Air and Space Museum’s annual event in July.
The move to build the next generation of fighters, which have a combat radius of around 1,000 miles, will cost the service $40 billion.
That will be more than $1,200 per F-20 and $8,000 per F/E variant, James said.
The F-21, which was cancelled in 2020, will be replaced with the F/B-21.
The E-6 and E-4 spy planes will also be used, but only as part of the F35 program.
The new fighter will be called the F4A Hawk and will have a maximum takeoff weight of 4,200 pounds, but it will be able to fly at speeds of up to Mach 2.5, James added.
“This will make the fighter more agile than before, and will help it out in combat.
You can do things like have a tail, you can fly at a speed of Mach 1.2 and you’re not going to have a problem, you’re just going to get hit by things,” James said in a press briefing.
James also announced that the Air Forces would be buying $4 billion worth of advanced sensors for the aircraft.
These include infrared sensors for navigation and surveillance, radar and a wide-area sensors suite.
James said the sensors will help the F40F “accelerate and fly more quickly, while also being able to respond to the changes we’re going to see in the battlefield.”
“It will allow the F45 to fly more aggressively and get to high speed at a time when the air defenses are not responding,” she said.
“It’s going to allow the E/C-130 to get more quickly to the ground, and it will allow us to get into low level combat more quickly.”
The F/Es will also get a suite of sensors and communications devices that can be used to track enemy aircraft and help the fighter “better understand the terrain and to respond in a more efficient way,” James added, as well as a radar system to help the fighters “better determine where and when the enemy is, where he’s going, what his position is, and where he wants to be.”
“In addition to these systems, the F43 will be the most capable fighter in the force, with an all-new airframe with a new, advanced avionics package and a new avionics suite,” James explained.
The system will also allow the fighter to fly longer ranges and with greater speed than the F46.
The jets will also have a new airframe and a redesigned avionics pod.
This new system, which is called the “C-3PO,” will also “enable an F43 to fly beyond the radar and airborne threats that are currently facing the F41,” James noted.
The C-3P will also increase the fighter’s range, James explained, as it will have an “advanced stealth capability that allows the fighter, even with the latest technology, to be able outmaneuver the enemy.”
This system will be integrated into the F51.
“We are going to bring a whole new capability to the F1,” James told reporters.
“These are some of the most advanced systems we have ever seen in the combat air vehicle.”
The new F-4E, a new fighter variant, will also carry a stealthy radar that will give it the ability to “spot and identify and track threats with great accuracy,” James continued.
James was also talking about the stealthy F-37, a successor to the Joint Strike F-39 that is being developed by Lockheed Martin.
“I’m pleased to announce that Lockheed Martin is the only company that will be building a stealth fighter for the Air Service,” she added.
Lockheed Martin has built the stealthiest stealth fighter ever.