It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
A secret air war is being waged in clear California skies and in dreary Pentagon briefing rooms. It is the battle of the X-planes--some so secret they have never been photographed. The outcome of this quiet conflict will determine where and how the nation fights its future wars: in air or space, with humans or silicon chips in the cockpit.
All wars simmer before they erupt. The battle of the X-planes began in the early 1990s with advances in microelectronics, completion of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the success of cruise missiles during Operation Desert Storm. Together, those developments convinced even the most conservative defense planners that it was time to change the technology of aerial combat. With this objective in mind, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) began exploring new ways to fight from space. At the same time, AFRL and DARPA also embarked upon a program to alter close combat. The name of that program is Future Aircraft Technology Enhancements (FATE).