Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr., chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, said the service branch might need sixth-generation fighter jets as part of its future fleet, National Defense Magazine reported Tuesday.
Brown recently told reporters that the Air Force may require a Next-Generation Air Dominance platform along with fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft like the F-35.
Brown, who leads a study on the service’s future fleet to inform fiscal year 2023 budget decisions, noted that his office is also looking into quantifying the amount of unmanned and manned aircraft in the Air Force fighter squadron.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is continuing efforts under its Skyborg “loyal wingman” program that seeks to utilize unmanned platforms for teaming operations with manned aircraft, according to the publication.
Boeing, which is bidding its concept for the Skyborg program, concluded an initial test flight for its Loyal Wingman aircraft intended for the Australian government earlier this month.
Brown noted that AFRL is “making pretty good strides” with the Skyborg program. The Air Force expects to start adding drones to its fleet by 2023.