No more new US fighter jets?

8 July 2016

It’s not good news for those Tom Cruise fans still hoping for a Top Gun sequel. The US Air Force (USAF) has released its latest official strategy for the next 15 years and it doesn’t include a new fighter jet.

American jets have proved increasingly expensive and difficult to develop, buy and maintain. Each new F-35, currently the USAFs only in-production fighter, costs $150m – tens of millions of dollars more than fighters it has replaced.

The service “must reject thinking focused on ‘next-generation’ platforms”, the new plan advises. “Such focus often creates a desire to push technology limits within the confines of a formal program… Pushing those limits results in cost growth and schedule slips.”

Instead, the strategy recommends the USAF’s separate aeroplane-development from the invention of new electronics. The military could develop new weapons, sensors and communications technologies in the same way commercial firms devise consumer products – quickly and incrementally updating equipment to minimise delays and control costs. In Top Gun 2, Cruise’s flying ace might pilot a drone and never leave the ground.

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