NATO’s top general urges “coordination” between US and European 6th generation fighter programs

Cologne, Germany-The commander-in-chief of NATO in Europe states that alliance members developing sixth-generation military aircraft need to ensure that their plans are in sync to avoid duplication.

US Air Force General Tod Walters emphasized the goal of “strategic transparency and integrity” in developing future defense programs, including the development of futuristic aerial weapons in the United States and Europe.

The idea he explained at the June 9th event hosted by the Atlantic Council was to compare notes on the resources needed to complete each plan. “These activities are underway and I’m really looking forward to what’s happening in that dimension,” Walters said.

Three major propulsions are underway within NATO to develop 6th generation aircraft, but how much these weapons will ultimately resemble conventional aircraft is an open question. Common to these efforts are individual activities aimed at introducing new drones, weapons, sensors, and command-and-control architectures.

Walters’ comments reflect the common sense of purpose of the Western allies, which is sometimes lost in the internal conflict of the defense industry. In Europe, top French and German political leaders needed to cover up serious FCAS practical-level disagreements with rosy stories about the French-German defense partnership. All the while, Britain’s Tempest program is proceeding in parallel, despite the widespread recognition that Europe cannot sustain such two developments in the long run.

Walters said the US 5th generation F-35 jet still has its potential in merging the military power of its customers’ countries, as 6th generation aviation weapons are still a few years away. He said he wasn’t fully demonstrating. He predicted that European F-35 users would deploy a total of 450 F-35s by 2030.

In particular, Walters described the aircraft’s combat support features, such as early warning and command and control, as the decisive force multiplier for the entire Air Force, rather than the jet’s advertised combat and stealth capabilities.

“And day by day, we’re finding a better way to unite the countries that own the F-35 to improve speed and attitude in the airspace,” he said.

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