The Air Force Wants Hypersonic Weapons and Even More Deadly F-35s

    Kris Osborn


    How fast will it happen? 

    Speeding up software upgrades for large platforms like the F-22 and F-35, Roper said, could mean the difference between winning and losing wars. New software applications, which can often emerge within days instead of years other systems may require, brings a need for what the Air Force calls “agile acquisition.” This involves a decided push to quickly “spiral in” new software as it becomes available. Hardware systems such as radar warning receivers, sensors, avionics and weapons systems can all change measurably in nearly real-time by virtue of the current pace of technological change.

    The Air Force is now massively speeding up development for hypersonic weapons, missile warning systems and F-35 upgrades as key parts of an emerging new strategy emphasizing risk taking, prototyping and experimentation early in the acquisition process.

    The service is now accelerating a plan to speed up delivery of new missile warning satellites, push the arrival of hypersonic weapons forward several years and more rapidly cycle in F-35 software upgrades to keep pace with new challenges.

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    “Do not be afraid to be aggressive. Sow reasonable prototyping early into your program,” Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, told a group of reporters about his message to service weapons developers.

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