Leaner and Meaner fighters

While at the Dubai Airshow this year I had a chance to check out the latest in military aviation technology. Well not really the latest but about the closest that was available for people to see. Anyway, from the B1 bombers with the awesome “Master of disaster” B1 bomber to the latest fourth generation F22 stealth fighter everything was there to be scrutinised by press and end users alike. The flying and stationary displays of the aircrafts were not only the displays that were there. It was more and that included in the airshow. The technology display pavilions were amazing as well.

But after a long and exhaustive day at the airshow, I really began to wonder the relevance of the aircrafts. I mean considering the last few years where more than countries going on full blown wars, we have seen smaller gueirella terrorist outfits that make use of imilar technologies as field american personnel. There is a bit of a level playing field considering that in order to engage in combat with these guys one would need to be on the ground and in their lairs. It is definately not as simple as two aircrafts going head to head in open air for a full blown dogfight. In these circumstances is the military fighter aircraft kind of loosing its relevance ?

Fighter aircraft are increasingly required to justify their expense by adapting to new roles and capabilities. Even so, fleet sizes continue to decrease. Despite still forming the backbone of advanced air forces, the size of many global fighter aircraft fleets is on a steady downward trajectory. Simultaneously, this reduction in the physical numbers of combat aircraft coupled with emerging operational requirements has necessitated an expansion in the mission set they are capable of undertaking. Aside from traditional tasks such as defensive and offensive counter air missions, today’s fighters are increasingly required to be accomplished at providing close air support and strike capabilities as well as contributing to intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance efforts.
The future structure of the USAF’s fighter fleet is currently one of the key issues facing the Pentagon and the new administration of US President Barack Obama, with the White House looking to reduce its defence budget while simultaneously remaining engaged in two foreign theatres. As a result of these dual demands, the USAF has been placed under increasing pressure by the Pentagon to focus upon providing capabilities relevant to continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, this mentality appears to have shifted attention from the air-superiority mission if current fighter procurement plans are examined. Moreover, the geography of future fighter programmes seems likely to change over the coming years. Despite European, Russian and US dominance in the current global fighter market in terms of market share, a shift away from these traditional centres of fighter technology, although minimal over the next 15 years, does appear to be taking place.
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So, I think the airshows in the next few years is going to consistently move towards civilian aviation technologies and not military technologies. So the last few goldern years of military aviation technology is available for us to view through the air shows. Lets make the most of the airshows then.
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