The U.S. has announced plans to develop a 4.5 generation light fighter jet to replace the F-16 months after Russia made known its plans for a single engine light fighter jet.
The U.S. Air Force is launching a study on future aircraft mix which will include a clean sheet design for a new “four-and-a-half-gen or fifth-gen-minus” fighter to replace the F-16, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown said last week.
“I want to be able to build something new and different, that’s not the F 16 — that has some of those capabilities, but gets there faster and uses some of our digital approach,” he said.
He said he would like to see F-16 replacement sporting “open-mission systems” to allow near-real-time software updates. The idea of the tactical aircraft (TacAir) study is “to look at what is the right force mix,” he added, explaining that the service needs fifth-generation fighters such as the F-35; it needs NGAD “to remain competitive against our adversaries;” and, it needs capabilities for the “low-end fight.”
In December 2020, Rostec, the holding company of most of Russia’s Aerospace enterprises, had announced the development of a concept single-engine fifth generation fighter jet in manned and unmanned versions.
“Indeed, the creation of a combat aviation system of the future in the light and middle class is being worked out. According to the plan, it can be a universal platform, in manned and unmanned versions. The concept and tactical and technical requirements for such a complex are being worked out,” Sergey Viktorovich Chemezov, CEO of Rostec Corporation, said.
The new tactical aviation platform could complement Russia’s Su-57 stealth jet. Russian industry sources had told defenseword.net during the MAKS-2019 event that a possible light fighter, which could be called the MiG-XX for now, was on the table. This aircraft would borrow certain characteristics of the Su-57 such as an internal weapons bay, lightweight materials and stealth characteristics. Its engine would be more powerful than seen on the MiG-35.