The new US Air Force strategy calls for a 15-year lifecycle for its fighters

While leading the acquisitions and developments of the US Air Force under the Trump administration, Dr. Will Roper had personified a dynamic of radical change in the management of the USAF's industrial programs, but also in its very conception. of the life cycle of combat aircraft. Presented under the name of " Digital Century Series“, This paradigm was based on the intensive use of digital modeling and testing, on an Agile design approach, and on the use of an open architecture allowing great flexibility in the modular design of the assembly. Several recent programs have implemented this doctrine, referred to by the term of e-Program by the military authorities, including the modernization of the B52 (re-engine) and A10 (new wings), as well as the new T- advanced training device. 7A later designated eT-7A.

After the departure of Will Roper from the Pentagon with the change of Administration, one would have thought that this dynamic would have waned by losing its most charismatic promoter. It is clear that this is not the case, and USAF's new Acting Director of Acquisitions Darlene Costello, recently demonstrated that the axes, objectives and methods presented by its predecessor remained at the heart of the industrial and technological strategy of the US Air Force. During'a presentation to the officers of the Potomac Club, she thus detailed with precision the way in which she intended to develop the industrial practices of her army, and presented the strategic vision of this one about the new industrial and technological rhythm which results from the competition with Beijing and, to a lesser extent. measure, with Moscow.

The Boeing and Saab eT-7A Red Hawk is one of the first e-Programs recognized as such by the US Air Force

This doctrine is based on two categories of programs. The e-Programs are designed respecting the technological triptych previously presented (digital modeling and tests, Agile and open architecture), allowing developments that are at the same time faster, less expensive and risky. In addition to the B52, A10 and e-T7A already mentioned, we also find the F15EX and the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD, which should replace the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles currently in service. Although not mentioned as such, the B-21 Raider Next Generation Strategic Bomber Program also appears to meet the criteria of an e-Program in a number of areas.

The e-Series programs are e-Programs designed on the basis of a complete modeling of its industrial, economic and operational life cycle over its entire lifespan. This classification is obviously very close to that presented previously under the term "Digital Century Series", without however the uninviting reference to the Century Series of the 50s which was, in many points, an operational and industrial failure, and without the spirit of systematic complementary global series that it implies. For now, only one program is part of this ultimate paradigm, the Next Generation Air Dominance, or NGAD, which should make it possible to replace, before the end of the decade, the F22 Raptors of the uSAF, but which could well , at the same time, produce an alternative to the F35A, less expensive to acquire and especially to use, and more suited to the specific needs of the USAF between 2030 and 2040, in particular in the Pacific theater.

The replacement for the F22 may well only fly 12 to 15 years before being replaced by an aircraft more suited to the new operational and technological demands facing China, according to Darlene Costello

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