Gen. Holmes: Air Force To Consider Whether To Replace F-16s With UAVs At End Of Service Life Written 28 February 2020


XQ-58A Valkyrie photographed during its second test flight, June 11, 2019. | 2nd Lt. Randolph Abaya/USAF

FlightGlobal reports that the Air Force is considering replacing older Lockheed Martin F-16s with UAVs when the aircraft reach the “end of their service life in five to eight years.” The Air Force “wants to rethink the way it does aerial combat using new technology, including attritable UAVs, says General James Michael Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, on 27 February at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium.” Holmes said, “Sometime in the next five, six, seven or eight years, depending on budgets and capability, we’ll have to decide what we’re going to do about those airplanes. And so, there’s an opportunity there if we want to cut in something new – low-cost attritable loyal wingman, the different things that we’re looking at and experimenting with.” Holmes is particularly concerned with Pacific operations. Holmes said, “The idea of what is a fighter, the equation and kind of the math that we use to for a fighter still works pretty well in the European environment. The range and payload and distance problem is still a pretty effective solution. It’s not as effective as [a] solution in the Pacific because of the great distances.” The Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II “has been criticized for having a limited combat range of 600nm.” As a result, the “Air Force Research Laboratory and Kratos Defense Security Solutions have been developing the XQ-58A Valkyrie, a low-cost UAV with a 1,500nm combat radius.”
Full Story (FlightGlobal)