The US military complex plans to crank up the next-gen, hit-to-kill air AIM-260 missile production to overtake China’s PL-15 and tip the Pacific’s balance of air power back in its favor.

This month, The Warzone reported that the US Air Force is laying the groundwork for accelerated production of the next-generation AIM-260 air-to-air missile to arm its envisioned Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) fleet of highly-autonomous drones specialized for air-to-air combat.

Accelerated AIM-260 production comes amid reports that the US air-to-air missile arsenal needs to be updated more quickly to keep pace with US fighter aircraft technology advances.

The F-35 is currently undergoing a massive upgrade in computational power, known as Tech Refresh 3, a prelude to the Block IV series of upgrades that will give the F-35 a 75% increase in combat capability.

US next-generation fighters, such as the NGAD and F/A-XX, will need new weapons to leverage the full extent of their capabilities, especially in BVR combat.

In a September 2021 article for Air & Space Forces Magazine, John Tirpak notes that while the 30-year-old AIM-120 design has been upgraded over the years, it may have already hit its upgrade potential.

Tirpak also notes that China’s People’s Liberation Army-Air Force (PLA-AF) has already fielded the PL-15 missile, which may outclass the AIM-120.

The PL-15’s 200-kilometer range (compared to the 160-180 kilometers of the AIM-120D variant), Mach 5 flight speed, maneuverability and export potential to US adversaries make it a pacing threat for the USA and its allies.

While the introduction of the AIM-260 aims to preserve US air superiority in the Pacific, it is no high-tech silver bullet for the significant systemic challenges faced by US air-power.

The USA suffers from an acute shortage of fighter jets and lags in pilot training, with the US Air Force having only 48 out of 60 fighter squadrons and only 11 out of 13 needed squadrons in the Pacific equipped with aging aircraft that are on average 28.8 years old.

In addition, US pilot training has declined since the 1991 Gulf War, with pilots getting only 9.7 flying hours a month now versus 22.3 hours then.

Those numbers are far short of the 137 modernized, well-trained and well-equipped fighter squadrons envisioned to dissuade any rational opponent from picking an air fight with the USA.

Asia Times / ABC Flash Point News 2023.

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Lady Shadow
Lady Shadow
16-05-23 11:52

USA lagging behind in development and production of weaponry?

Lady Shadow
Lady Shadow
16-05-23 12:45

comment image

Last edited 16 days ago by APB1961Curacao