For the head of the US hunt, the added value of the 5th Generation is far from obvious

With more than 6000 hours recorded on his logbook On F-15C, F-15E, F-16, F-35A and even F / A-18 during his passage in Australia, General Mark D. Kelly, who Command the US Air Force Fighter, is what is commonly called in this environment, "a Mustachu". In fact, when giving his opinion on the performance of the F-15EX after taking control of the aircraft, it is relevant to pay attention to what he has to say. A fervent supporter of the new Boeing fighter within the US Air Force, even when the latter was more than reluctant to arrive, the officer was full of praise for the aircraft, and all the more so. that he spent most of his pilot career at the controls of his big brothers, the F-15C for air superiority, and the F-15E Strike Eagle for strike missions.

Being one of the few pilots to have flown the F-35A and the F-15EX and to be qualified on the 2 fighters, he was naturally asked about the differences between the two aircraft which, according to one of the journalists present, do not belong to the same generation. "What are we talking about exactly? Stealth, sensors and data fusion, weaponry, avionics? " the general asked the journalist, "because there is no doubt that a 4th generation avoin which will have received (like the F-15EX) the sensors, avionics and weaponry of the 5th generation, will bring very great operational added value against its adversaries ”. And to remember thatThe F-15EX was part of the 4 + 1 aircraft models, with the F-35A, the replacement for the F-22 from the NGAD program, the F-16 (and its potential replacement also from the NGAD program) and the A-10, which will form the US Air Force's fighter fleet in 2030.

To cope with the rise of Chinese power, the US Air Force knows that it must quickly acquire new operational capabilities.

In fact, the very definition of a 5th generation aircraft is, to say the least, imprecise. Initially, this was a classification designating the F-22 and its innovative capabilities, namely multi-aspect stealth, super-cruising, or the ability to maintain supersonic flight without resorting to afterburner, the hyper-maneuverability and advanced data detection and fusion capabilities. But with the arrival of the F-35, which could not be other than the archetype of the 5th generation, it was necessary to change this definition, since if the device was certainly stealthy, but not in a multi-aspect way, it was not was neither super-maneuvering, on the contrary, nor equipped with super-cruise, even struggling to maintain supersonic flight at full level afterburning without rapidly deteriorating its anti-radar coating. From then on, the 5th generation became a kind of abstract concept in which only recently designed devices, equipped with a minimum of stealth, and modern sensors entered. This is how the Su-57 and the J-20 appeared, also designated 5th generation, because they more or less meet these criteria. However, for many, the simple designation of 5th generation device was enough to demonstrate its absolute superiority over older devices.


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