SecNav: The F-35 Will Be The LAST Manned Fighter For The US
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in a recent speech stated that once the F-35c is in hand, the service should never purchase another manned strike aircraft again.
As Mabus put it at the annual Sea-Air-Space Exposition, the F-35c “should be, and almost certainly will be, the last manned strike fighter aircraft the Department of the Navy will ever buy or fly,” Navy Times reports.
What this means is that while the Navy will still call on aircraft for potential dogfighting, strike missions in the Navy will be assigned to unmanned aircraft. At the event, Mabus announced the creation of a new Navy office for unmanned systems, called N-99, which also entails a new position: Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Unmanned Systems.
“Unmanned systems, particularly autonomous ones, have to be the new normal in ever-increasing areas,” said Mabus, according to Military.com.
Mabus’ speech signals that the Navy is prepared to place a significant amount of stock in the idea that unmanned aircraft will be able to out-compete manned strike fighters in a relatively short period of time.
“The future of the carrier air wing is linked with the development of an unmanned system able to execute long-range, penetrating strike missions in anti-access environments,” House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee chairman Republican Rep. Randy Forbes told USNI News in reaction to the speech.
“I am hopeful that whoever fills this new post will take a holistic, strategic look at the Navy’s unmanned portfolio and be a strong advocate for that vision moving forward.”
Mabus pointed to the advent of 3-D printing as a key driver of innovation in the unmanned systems space, showing the audience a small, GPS-equipped drone that can be manufactured by a 3-D printer. The Close-In Autonomous Disposable Aircraft can quickly ‘seed’ a region and function as a network of sensors, relaying crucial information back to command.
Part of purpose of the new office is an attempt to spur innovation in the unmanned systems arena, which is becoming increasingly necessary in the global technological environment.
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