April 17, 2015

CNAS Press Note: Secretary of the Navy and the "Last Manned Strike Fighter"

Washington, April 17 – On news that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said that the F-35 would be the Navy’s “last manned strike fighter,” Paul Scharre, Director of the Center for a New American Security’s 20YY Warfare Initiative, has written a new Press Note explaining the context of the secretary’s announcement and the initiatives underway to develop unmanned systems.
The full Press Note is available below:
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus made news this week when he announced that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be the Navy’s “last manned strike fighter.” This announcement fits in with a series of initiatives the Navy has recently undertaken to harness the ongoing robotics revolution. These include the establishment of a deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for unmanned systems and a new Navy staff office – the N99 – to consolidate development of unmanned systems. These organizational shifts will significantly increase the ability of the Navy to capitalize on the advantages of unmanned and autonomous systems by creating senior civilian and military leaders responsible for unmanned systems within the Navy.
The Navy is also putting resources behind its effort to make the F-35 the Navy’s last manned fighter. It is currently investigating potential alternatives for a future strike aircraft, the F/A-XX, which may be manned, unmanned, or optionally manned. Unmanned aircraft have significant cost and operational advantages and could increase the ability of the Navy to project power at long range, standing off from enemy threats in future anti-access environments. Investing in unmanned strike aircraft is essential for the Navy’s ability to remain relevant and effective in a future threat environment characterized by increasingly sophisticated, long-range threats.
20YY Warfare Initiative Director Mr. Scharre is available for interviews. To arrange an interview, please contact Neal Urwitz at nurwitz@cnas.org or call 202-457-9409.


  • Paul Scharre

    Executive Vice President and Director of Studies

    Paul Scharre is the Executive Vice President and Director of Studies at CNAS. He is the award-winning author of Four Battlegrounds: Power in the Age of Artificial Intelligence...