Air superiority will be a mainly defensive exercise as the Air Force makes plans for the next generation of fighters. While fifth-generation fighters are just getting comfortable in their roles, the crystal ballers at the Pentagon have started setting the standards for the sixth-generation aircraft that will make them obsolete. “It has to be able to penetrate the worst potential defenses we could be up against,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in a recent interview with National Defense. That means even more stealth will be required in the next fighter designs.
While the F-35 and F-22 frontline fighters can beat most conventional radars, all potential adversaries are getting better at finding stealthy targets in other ways and that means the future fighter will be cloaked against a variety of emissions. “It has got to try to be stealthier across more of the radar spectrum. It has to be stealthy in the IR spectrum. It has to be stealthy in the electromagnetic spectrum and how much it emits. It has to be stealthy in other ways,” Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the former commander of Air Combat Command and now CEO of the National Defense Industrial Association told National Defense. “When we talk about sixth-gen, it’s multispectral stealth across as many sensor capabilities as exist out there.”