Future Combat Air System: Owning the sky with the Next Generation Weapons System

The heart of the NGF will be provided by its extremely capable avionics and sensor suite. The increase in processing power, storage and connectivity will grant the pilot with greatly heightened situational awareness and the ability to rely not only on its own sensors and effectors, but also on other platforms’ ones. Combined with the introduction of artificial intelligence and the ability to team with unmanned platforms, the NGF will become a battlefield management platform capable of operating deep within the enemy airspace.

Powerful engines equipped with thrust-vectoring nozzles combined with high-performance flight control system will ensure the NGF’s manoeuvrability, speed, and range. Innovative effectors will provide the fighter with unprecedented firepower, ranging from stand-off kinetic loads (including hypersonic ones) to directed energy weapons (lasers and microwaves) to electronic warfare capabilities (including cyberattack).

However, more sophistication also means higher development costs leading to a declining number of platforms and/or effectors. Eventually such dangerously low levels result in critical availability levels. This is problematic, as operational studies indicate that penetrating contested environments will require an adequate number of manned platforms. Hence, it is important to set the right level of capabilities for the NGF by taking a holistic approach when right sizing its stealth, velocity, manoeuvrability, range, sensing and effects generation’s capabilities.

The NGF alone will not suffice for the most demanding missions in highly contested environments. To counter such threats, the NGF will team with unmanned platforms called Remote Carriers or RCs acting as force multipliers. Adding capabilities in a scalable and flexible manner will enhance the overall mission effectiveness, efficiency and survivability of the NGWS.

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