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Air Force Prepares to Hash Out Future Fighter Requirements

…The Air Force is off to a good start, but still has much work to do in terms of establishing what performance variables will take priority, said Mark Gunzinger, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Like Grynkewich, Gunzinger mentioned payload and range as two key characteristics of the aircraft. “When you consider the kinds of geography that our future fighter aircraft may have to operate in, such as the Western Pacific, overcoming that tyranny of distance means that we probably will need combat aircraft for longer ranges,” he said. A larger payload would also be vital in such scenarios because the jet will likely have to stay in the area of engagement for longer durations and have enough weapons capability to make an impact on enemy assets.… “It won’t help if you come up with a perfect solution but it is so expensive we can’t afford to buy enough of them,” Gunzinger said. “The Air Force needs to start buying new jets as swiftly as it can, and a future Penetrating Counter Air aircraft, a future fighter that isn’t going to deliver until the mid 2030s, isn’t going to help now. So that’s why I think something that can be delivered sooner than the 2030s and certainly is affordable is a very important factor.”...

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