The US Air Force has officially christened its latest X-Plane, the XQ-67A Off-Board Sensing Station, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI).
The XQ-67A is an uncrewed aircraft that aims to augment human-piloted fighters such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II with a fleet of unmanned wingmen, offering expanded surveillance capabilities and enhanced operational efficiency without the need for additional complex, crewed aircraft.
The XQ-67A test platform will enable experimentation and evaluation by test pilots and operations planners. Despite its designation, its role will extend beyond mere reconnaissance, offering insights into operational tactics and strategic planning that could shape the future of aerial warfare. According to GA-ASI, uninhabited systems are comparatively cheaper and can be built in large quantities, generating mass, which is critical for combat tacticians.
In response to China’s military expansion in the Indo-Pacific, the US Department of Defense recently launched Replicator, an initiative meant to oppose the “mass” of the People’s Liberation Army by relying on “innovation, strategic thinking, and technology,” including the use of attritable autonomous systems.