LtCol Joshua "CATA" Arki, 4th Fighter Squadron Commander, Hill Air Force Base, Utah
LtCol Di Nardo: Could you explain the new generation fighter integration?
Lt Col Arki: Advances in datalink, sensors, weapons, and the iterative evolution of tactics developed through exercises like Red Flag and Atlantic Trident have dramatically improved our interoperability. Instead of operating "near" one-another during a mission as in days past, we can now fly and fight "with" each other in the same portions of the sky. This enables us to mass firepower at the time and place of our choosing, as well as adapt quickly to a rapidly changing battle space. Additionally, we no longer require in-person planning in most cases, as we can now "see" each other in the air through advanced datalink, communications, and sensors, and therefore coordinate in real time by falling back on our shared experiences in combined exercises. We must continue to train together to retain this perishable skill as new generations of pilots, maintainers, and support personnel enter our services.
What are the differences between yesterday (without 5th Generation) and today? What do you expect for the upcoming years?
5th Generation aircraft bring game-changing situational awareness to the aerial battle space. The pilots that fly these aircraft have the tools and training to act as "quarterbacks" in the sky, thus enabling mission command and decentralized execution where it is needed the most: at the point of attack. However, 5th Generation aircraft must work in concert with other 4th Generation aircraft as well as joint ground and naval forces to win. Stealth does not equal invisibility, nor are there enough 5th Generation aircraft in the inventory to execute air campaigns autonomously. Rather, 5th Generation aircraft must utilize their transformational strengths to act as a force multiplier during the aerial conflicts of tomorrow.