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THINKING FORWARD ON FIGHTERS TO BETTER UNDERSTAND ALL OF THE “INTERDEPENDENCIES” THAT COULD AFFECT THE FUTURE FIGHTER JET, ALL PROJECTS FIGHTER-RELATED HAVE BEEN BROUGHT UNDER ONE OFFICE, HEADED BY A TWO-STAR GENERAL. BY CHRIS THATCHER A Ask MGen Alain Pelletier how the Fighter Capability Office (FCO) is approaching the integration of next-generation fighter jet technology and you’ll quickly appreciate why the Royal Canadian Air Force has placed all its fighter-related projects under one umbrella and adopted a much broader perspective than simply the replacement of an aging fleet of CF-188 Hornets with newer aircraft. “Our tendency is to focus on the bright shiny object, the capability itself, and we forget about other things that would enable us to do the job in a joint, interoperable manner. I’ve learned from my operator past that we tend to field an aircraft, but what I want is a weapon system I’m able to operate, not as we do today, but as we will need to operate for the next 30 years,” he said. As chief of fighter capability, Pelletier has amassed a growing team of expertise from across the Air Force to understand the capability required to operate in a highly networked future security environment that is marked by the exploitation of big data, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and electronic warfare (EW) against an array of threats, many yet unknown. And he’s challenged himself and the team to “think visionary,” to see beyond today’s operating concepts and imagine how that weapon system might be employed tomorrow. “The fighter operator of aircraft that gets delivered in 2025 will not be the same as (today); they will be a coordinator of assets and manager of information,” he said. “I’m encouraging my staff to think forward. If we can think forward, we can shape it.” The FCO was transformed in 2017 after the Liberal government announced at the end of 2016 a three-pronged approach to replace the legacy CF-188A/B model fleet of 76 54 RCAF Today 2018