U.S. Defense Department leaders have called for a renewed effort to sustain America’s military technological dominance, but to do so they will have to fight an uphill battle against entrenched bureaucratic interests competing over a shrinking budgetary pie. Whether this initiative will be more than simply Pentagon pabulum depends on the future direction of the Navy’s carrier air wing. The Navy has two next-generation programs on the drawing board, the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) drone and the F/A-XX 6th generation manned fighter. Squeezing two next-gen aircraft programs into the Navy’s budget will be difficult, particularly if, as the Navy currently plans, the UCLASS drone does not replace any manned aircraft on the deck.
Read the full piece at War on the Rocks.