skip to main content

US Air Force wants manned-unmanned teaming for B-21

The US Air Force (USAF) wants its new Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider long-range strike bomber to operate with up to five unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in a manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) concept.

Frank Kendall, service secretary, said on 9 December that these UAVs would operate with, but not necessarily accompany, the B-21 as the operational tactics are to be determined. However, Kendall said the service wants to network the B-21 together with UAVs under the control of a pilot operator to be used in a formation against an enemy.

The USAF has a lot of warfighting analysis to perform for this. Kendall said he moved his analysis shop, which was A9 in the Air Staff, over into the secretariat. A warfighting analysis organisation founded by General John Raymond, US Space Force chief of space operations, is also working on using the B-21 with UAVs in a MUM-T concept.

The USAF is pursuing new programmatic concepts in UAVs, which include the Skyborg autonomous aircraft teaming architecture, and the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) advanced aircraft programme. Kendall said the USAF is principally considering NGAD for MUM-T, but that it could also be done with the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and potentially the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

Kendall's remarks came during a Defense One event.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...