The U.S. Air Force must adopt new technology to train its pilots to defeat its adversaries as potential threats to U.S. airpower evolve, a top service official said Feb. 28.
“As our threat has evolved, and we have to deal with this threat that moves forward, we have to evolve in our technology, and our tactics, techniques and procedures,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements.
The Distributed Mission Operations-Live Virtual Constructive (DMO-LVC) capability is a classic example of dealing with emerging threats, Carlisle said.
Carlisle said it is almost impossible to build a realistic, challenging training scenario for the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) during real-world exercises.
For example, he said there is no way to replicate the kinds of electronic warfare threats or the sheer scale of enemy opposition that those aircraft might face during a real war except — to certain extent — during some select large-force exercises like Red Flag at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
“To do those routinely is a challenge,” Carlisle said. “So you have to do a lot of that by virtual constructive capability.”
Carlisle said the F-16s and F-15s used by the 64th, 65th and 18th Aggressor Squadrons are perfectly adequate to replicate current generation threat aircraft like the Russian Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker and MiG-29 Fulcrum, those fourth-generation fighters won’t be able to mimic new Russian and Chinese fifth-generation fighters like the Sukhoi PAK-FA or Chengdu J-20.
When those Russian and Chinese threat aircraft emerge — Carlisle stressed that it would take a long while before those jets are fielded — F-22s and F-35s could replicate threat aircraft for each other, the veteran aggressor pilot said. But it might take a “few decades” for F-35s to be used as a dedicated aggressor aircraft, said Carlisle, who during the 1980s flew an assortment of covertly acquired Soviet fighters at a secret desert base in Nevada.
“I think the way that we’re going to do a lot of that is going to be by DMO and live virtual constructive capability,” Carlisle said.