Generational Talk

The Air Force is “not backing away” from the challenge posed by the Russian T-50 and Chinese J-20 fifth generation fighters, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told the Daily Report. “We have extensive [research and development] underway” in technology areas applicable to a sixth generation fighter, he said during an interview in his Pentagon office. These activities include work in the areas of propulsion, sensors, materials, manufacturing, datalinks, apertures, and high-resolution radar, he explained. And “while they’re not specific to a mission yet, [these technologies] certainly will lead to such an effort, if we chose to move out on one,” Schwartz said. The Air Force has more than “$2 billion in R&D” for these activities, he noted. Plus, the Air Force is investing substantial funds in making the F-22 “all that we can make it be,” he emphasized. That initiative is a multi-billion-dollar effort, he said, and one of USAF’s “half a dozen or so largest programs.” The money is in the service’s Fiscal 2012 budget request and “we’re committed to that,” said Schwartz.