Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: Loyal Wingman and PCA
Origin: United States of America
Parent System: Penetrating Counter-Air
Initial Operational Capability (IOC): 2030
Total Production: 414
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Description: The United States Air Force (USAF) Penetrating Counter-Air (PCA) program aimed at developing a high-end unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) to support manned fifth generation fighter aircrafts beginning in the 2030s. The manned aircraft will take control over a swarm of unmanned jets (up to six) carrying out a variety of missions. The drones may be equipped with a variety of weapons and sensors including high energy lasers. The PCA drone will be a tailless, high-speed, single-engine, low observable aircraft with internal weapons bay for a variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface bombs and missiles. Besides, these drones would be able to carry out high risk or suicide missions testing the enemy's air defenses and other capabilities. The Penetrating Counter-Air will be deployed along upgraded F-22 Raptors and F-35 stealth jets beginning in 2030.
In December 2018 the program scope was for an initial operational capability (IOC) in 2030 with 414 jets to be procured as the replacement for the F-15C/D and F-22 air superiority fighters. The unitary cost of a PCA was estimated at $300 million apiece. The PCA is intended to engage high end adversaries such as Russia and China featuring improved stealth, range, payload and sensors. The new jet may feature the ability to fly at extremely high altitudes allowing for highly supersonic speeds.
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