The recent appearance of China’s J-20 stealth airplane is a reminder that USAF can’t “take for granted” that it will always have air superiority, said Gen. William Fraser, head of Air Combat Command, in his remarks Thursday at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition in Orlando, Fla. The J-20 has demonstrated that “other countries are pursuing their own fifth generation capabilities,” he said. USAF’s future air superiority efforts will “leverage” manned and unmanned, kinetic and non-kinetic, and standoff and direct-attack capability, all in a mix of new and legacy systems, Fraser said. The F-22 is the only operational fifth generation fighter, “but we must complete the planned upgrades” to make it reach its full potential, he said. But there will be “capacity and capability gaps” elsewhere in the air superiority portfolio, Fraser noted. To fill those, the Air Force must put advanced electronically scanned array radars on its F-15s and get the Dual-Role Air Dominance Missile, “just to name two” important initiatives, he said. ACC continues to “monitor” the F-35 and will make decisions about service-life extensions to older aircraft.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.