Air Force may build a 4.5-generation fighter to replace the F-16

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As the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter continues to drag its heels into commonplace use, the US Air Force is looking to replace the F-16 Viper with something that hasn’t even been designed yet.

The venerable F-16 Fighting Falcon (which is more commonly known as the “Viper”) is growing long in the tooth, forcing the USAF to look at a new “clean sheet design” for a “four-and-a-half-gen or fifth-gen-minus” aircraft that can fill the role.

Such an idea sounds like potential for a revival of the “Century Series” of aircraft concept that graced the skies during the Cold War, which ultimately proved to be rather successful and efficient.

It is unknown if the USAF’s new plane will be steathy, thus keeping in line with their promise to only invest in fighters with low radar signatures.

According to Popular Mechanics, the F-35 was originally designed to take over the F-16’s role but has become something of a disastrous boondoggle.

Despite there being significantly more advanced variants of the F-16 already in production, Air Force Chief of Staff C.Q. Brown recently stated that he wants to test the USAF’s new engineering abilities.

I want to be able to build something new and different, that’s not the F-16—that has some of those capabilities, but gets there faster and uses some of our digital approach,” Brown said.

The F-35, despite its problems, is not going anywhere, as its role as a sensor suite, data relay and deep-penetrator will still be needed.

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