The Pentagon’s Air Superiority 2030 Study isn’t meant to lead directly to a plan for replacing the F-22, Air Force acquisition executive William LaPlante said Tuesday. Speaking at a McAleese Associates/Credit Suisse symposium in Washington, D.C., LaPlante said the study—formally, the Air Superiority 2030 Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team—is best viewed like the “family of systems” study in 2010 that led to the requirements for the Long-Range Strike Bomber. “I’m not smart enough, yet” to know what an F-22 replacement will have to be, LaPlante said, noting the group will start producing results in about a year, on everything from how fourth and fifth generation fighters will work collaboratively to the impact of offboard electronic warfare to directed energy’s contribution. “I have not thought of the air dominance initiative as to how it segues into replacing any one platform or acquisition,” he said, though “it may dovetail very nicely.” An Air Force spokesman said later that the ECCT will develop a “master plan” for “all concept exploration, integration studies, and technology maturation and risk-reduction activities associated with quantifying capability gaps and identifying potential solutions.” The analytic results derived through Fiscal 2017 will influence the F?iscal 2018 “Strategic Planning Choices and FY ’18 POM, with actionable choices” for the Air Force leadership, he said. LaPlante told Air Force Magazine he doesn’t think an F-22 replacement plan is urgent because he expects the type to remain in service “into the 2040s,” meaning “there is time” to develop a replacement scheme.
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.