With the increasing importance of fifth generation aircraft, such as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II, two experienced? Raptor pilots have drafted a preliminary concept of employment to help US and allied warfighters make better use of the advanced capabilities they bring. The authors, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian and Col. Max Marosko, at an AFA Mitchell Institute forum on Thursday. Harrigian, director of the Air Force F-35A Integration Office, emphasized the vast amounts of information the fifth gen aircraft can collect about the combat environment and the importance sharing that data with others, particularly US and allied fourth generation aircraft. “When we fly together, if I see red [aircraft], it’s important that the other guy also sees red,” he said, referring to allied aircraft. “If you look at the plans we’re likely to be executing in the future, we’re going to need these guys.” Because the stealthy F-22 and F-35s are “the only ones that can go deep,” it is vital that they can get that data out, said Harrigian. To make that data exchange work, Marosko added, it’s important to get fifth generation pilots on key air staffs. (Read the Mitchell Forum paper.)
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.