The Air Force is considering adding sense-and-avoid capabilities to some of its remotely piloted aircraft. In a request for information posted Jan. 12, the Air Force notes that federal aviation rules require pilots to “see and avoid” other air traffic, but RPAs do not have pilots on board. Sense and avoid capabilities would allow RPAs “to maintain safe separation, to include avoiding collisions, as well as safely integrate with other airspace users,” according to the RFI. The request seeks information about existing and emerging technology that could fill the sense-and-avoid capability gap, but a question-and-answer document attached to the request stresses that there is no formal requirement or request for proposals yet. The purpose of the request is just for information and planning purposes, according to the document.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.