- Feb 7, 2023 Date of publishing
- 8 Pages
Air superiority is a prerequisite for successful joint combat operations. Without control of the airspace in a contested theatre of operations, military objectives on the ground can never be fully realized.
Today, the United States Air Force is operating a fighter fleet perched on the brink of disaster. Most of the service’s air superiority aircraft were designed at the conclusion of the Vietnam War, produced in the 1980s, and are ill-suited to meet future threats. With only 186 F-22 air superiority fighters (versus 750 planned) and about 200 F-35 multi-role aircraft to complement its aging 4th generation fighters, America has too few fighters to defend its territory, and the territory of its allies in the face of 21st century threats. The National Defense Strategy Commission recently concluded that America’s hard military power has eroded “to a dangerous degree.” America’s ability to defend its allies, partners, and its own vital interests against a modern combat threat is increasingly in doubt, the commission stated, and if the US does not act promptly, the consequences will be “grave and lasting.”
The modern threat environment is defined by 5th generation (soon to be AI-enabled 6th gen) adversaries in the air and on the ground, which require exponential improvements in combat capabilities over 4th generation fighters, even though 4th generation fighters comprise over 85% of our combat aircraft.