It’s the sea, it’s the air.
The two together are the ultimate expression of the ocean, and they have long been the most valuable commodity in the world.
And now that the ocean is at peace, the Air Force is preparing to release more of the bounty.
In a wide-ranging interview, Air Force Lt.
Gen. Michael O. Fogleman, the head of the Air Warfare Command, said he’s confident that the next wave of advanced air combat drones will be as capable and affordable as the ones that we have today.
“They’ll be able to be flown as long as they need to be,” he said.
“They’ll have a range of 20 to 40 nautical miles.
The question is, what happens to that range?”
And what happens when the range gets extended to 80 or 100 nautical mi.?
“The range will be reduced to about 30 miles, and that will require significant maintenance, and you’re not going to have a lot of spare fuel,” he added.
Fickleman said he expects the Air Corps to begin shipping its first of a series of new airframes in 2019, followed by a further batch in 2020.
The Air Force will have at least five generations of advanced drones ready to fly by 2020.
Foglens first batch of drones will come out in 2020, with a second batch of 20 by 2025.
But that will be followed by the Air Systems Command (ASC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, which will begin production of a full-size model in 2019.
Fogleman said the Air Service’s drones are designed to fly in a variety of weather conditions and terrain.
That includes low-level terrain, high-level and deep-level fog, and clouds.
The drones can also operate at altitudes from 500 feet to 15,000 feet and take off and land at low and high altitudes.
But when Foglemen spoke about the Air Forces newest airframes, he emphasized that the Air Services drones would not replace the drones that the Navy currently uses to fly surveillance missions.
“The drones will not replace our surveillance planes,” he told me.
“But they will be part of the fleet, and the capability to operate in these types of situations is there.”
Foglemans comments came in response to a question about whether or not the Air Combat Command would take orders for drones that it doesn’t have the capability or money to buy.
He also said the Navy would not order drones it doesn.t have the ability to buy, either.
“We’ll take orders from our allies and customers, as we have done with drones, but as the years go on we’ll try to take orders that are out there that are more appropriate for our mission and the mission we’re conducting,” he explained.
“And if we don’t have a suitable replacement capability, we’ll have to find it.
And then we’ll work with our allies to come up with the appropriate replacement capability.”