A new "tactical aircraft" to replace the F-22 could enter service in 2030. The aircraft must be ready to move beyond prototype stage by 2020. It could be optionally manned or remotely piloted. Its primary mission will remain shooting down enemy aircraft, although it "may" also need to jam communications and electronics and spy.
That's a quick summary of a capabilities request for information issued today by the USAF's next generation tactical aircraft technology program, which is being led by the capability development and planning division of the Aeronautical Systems Center.
We've known that the USAF has been looking at F-22 replacement options for a few years. The process has now entered the stage where the USAF asks industry to submit information. Earlier this year, Boeing revealed concepts for a next-generation F-22 replacement (pictured above). We haven't seen anything new from Lockheed Martin, but that could quickly change as the process moves forward.