What will it take to launch a 6th-gen fighter program: “More money”

Please excuse the abrupt drop-off of updates to my live-blog yesterday. I discovered the battery limits of several of my devices. Once I had revived their power sources, I realized I needed a recharge myself.

There are still plenty of blog items left in the queue from the Air Warfare Symposium. I’m readying for a quick trip tonight to Brazil to visit Embraer’s newly-launched, standalone defense business, but I’ll continue to be posting about AWS here after I reach my hotel south of the equator tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, take a look at this exchange with Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and reporters yesterday about the possibility of a sixth generation fighter program developing.



Tirpak: We’ve already seen T-50 and J-20 flight tests but we haven’t seen a 6th gen platform.

Donley: I don’t think you’re going to see a 6th generation fighter program-program any time soon. we do not have the resources available to ramp up and begin a 6th generation fighter while we’re still working on 5th [generation]. But we do continue the R&D in Air Force Research Laboratory and other dimensions of our ongoing R&D work relative to advanced components, avionics, weapons that will eventually support that work. So the early pieces of what would constitute a future program are already out there. What we’ll be looking at is how to focus that work at a relatively low level on an extended timeline so that we understand how those various research programs are developing and might interact.

Tirpak: Well if not flight tests of an adversary airplane what do you think might be the trigger to say now we definitely need to launch a program of record?

Donley: More money.

Trimble: If you had more money does that mean you would launch a program given the threat?

Donley: The broad message I tried to convey to Congress, the chief and I did yesterday, is that we’re living with flat budgets. They may go down a little bit. We don’t know if or when those budgets will increase. We already have a significant challenge in front of us to implement the programs that are on our plate. the tanker, the joint strike fighter, the new bomber, the satellite programs. So we have a very full plate of acquisition priorities today. We can already see the future requirements that are not funded — the T-X, presidential aircraft replacement. We’ve got some other special sort of niche smaller fleet kind of assets that will eventually need to be replaced. Eventually the minuteman system will need to be replaced. I spoke to that earlier. So that’s — those issues are out there beyond the FYDP and beyond the FYDP-FYDP. Out-years beyond the out-years. We have a lot of issues in front of us. But these are all sort of multi-year efforts.

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One Response to What will it take to launch a 6th-gen fighter program: “More money”

  1. para 21 February, 2011 at 5:54 am #

    “More money” is a ridiculous statement. If he is serious about it, he should be fired for incompetence on that ground alone.

    The defence budget is ridiculously large, as it is. The elephant in the room is the fact that the armed forces are nowhere near getting any value for money, and pretty much all parties involved – industry, politics and military – can take their share of responsibility for it. Too many procurements gone disastrously wrong – well, thats the outcome then.

    If they cry for actually increasing spending, the US will go the way of the Soviet Union. Ah the irony…

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