Future Strike Fighter Options … Concepts and Technologies 811099
Numerous recent studies have identified critical capability and technology needs for the next generation of manned tactical attack fighters. Weapon system concepts evolved in these studies postulated improved survivability and cost effectiveness over current operational systems in the severe Central European scenarios of the 1990s. However, cost effectiveness, gains of these concepts were strongly influenced by forecasted capability and cost improvements in advanced conceptual weapons. Even if the appropriate weapon technology were developed, highly advanced weapons would likely constitute only a small portion of the available weapon inventory in that time frame. Consequently, the Tactical Fighter Technology Alternatives (TAFTA) Investigation was formulated by AFWAL to identify technologies and capabilities that promote survivable, effective, and affordable weapon systems while acknowledging tactical weapons inventories realistically projected to be available in the early 1990s.
This paper highlights results from Grumman’s effort on that program, focusing on concepts of operation and their attendant technologies for the air interdiction of second echelon armor. Five distinct concept options emerged for this mission area, differentiated by fundamental issues including penetration mode, weapon delivery requirements, and threat state. Low threat state “seed” concepts - dedicated simply to efficient weapon delivery in a benign environment - provided “affordability” benchmarks for more complex and capable weapon systems. This study feature, in concert with numerous parametric investigations driven by survivability and effectiveness issues, provided quantitative insight into the cost of introducing various weapon system capability levels. While no single concept option proved to be uniformly optimum, mandates for technology development and integration which support quantum improvements in mission effectiveness were clearly identified.