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originally posted by: OccamsRazor04
a reply to: nwtrucker
Joy stick has latency. Would be a huge failure. You need true autonomous, or pilots that are close enough to avoid latency.
We will require fresh thinking to control the skies of the future. Gaining and maintaining air superiority in 2030 will require new concepts of operation. It will require a rejection of platform-based thinking that yearns for a “silver bullet” solution. And it will require airmen and joint leaders able to apply operational art across domains. While these intellectual foundations are certainly the most critical aspects of success in 2030, it is also true that concepts of operation dependent on outdated technology will fail. Any family of capabilities able to solve the 2030 problem will ultimately be comprised of platforms across all domains and from all services. If airmen and joint leaders in 2030 lack key capabilities, it will not matter how skilled they are in warfighting or operational art. The most brilliant commander today, equipped only with the technologies of yesterday, is doomed to fail in combat.
The other word we avoided in the discussion of PCA was “fighter.” While to some this is sacrilege, the rationale is sound. When we hear the word “car,” most people envision a four-wheeled enclosed vehicle, typically propelled by an internal combustion engine with a range of 200 to 400 miles and top speeds of around 120 to 150 miles per hour. We all possess mental models that define a car in that way. The same is true of “fighter.” In the modern context, most people have a mental model of a short-range, highly maneuverable, supersonic, manned aircraft, typically armed with a limited number of missiles and a gun. A future PCA may not fit this model. Part III of this series highlighted the importance of increased range. Payload is also important, as increasing magazine depth allows for greater persistence and improved lethality. Maneuverability and speed will be important, too, but may not fit our traditional definition of a fighter, either. In the end, I fully expect we will call PCA a fighter and give it an F-designation. But we need to be willing to challenge our assumptions and expand our thinking about how we balance the tradespace of any platform in the air superiority family of capabilities.
Done correctly with consistent funding and focus, parallel development can significantly reduce the technical risk found in any program. The F-117 is a good example of this technique in action. Effort on stealth technology had progressed in one line of development, advanced flight controls in another, and various other subcomponents came from yet others. Once the technology was mature across all of the required systems, it was brought together into the F-117 program. This allowed the Air Force to more easily manage the risk. As technical risk had been decreased outside the program, what remained was integration risk. While non-trivial, the program brought no unnecessary risks into integration by using mature and in some cases fielded subcomponents.
Third, the Air Force should manage integration risk. Again, this is not a trivial task on a complex weapons system. However, prototyping and experimentation provide an elegant solution. The F-117 did this correctly by building an essentially fieldable prototype before entering its limited production run. More recently, the F-22 program began with a flyoff between the YF-22 and YF-23 prototypes. In truth, these aircraft were mere technology demonstrators rather than true prototypes, similar to the X-planes developed at the outset of the F-35 program. They did not contain all of the systems and sub-systems the final versions of their planes would need. For prototyping to truly work, we must move beyond the technology demonstrators these program used, and instead truly integrate the subsystems onto the capability we are trying to field. Only then can we evaluate whether or not it does what we need it to do.