The Air Force’s fiscal year 2023 budget submission will herald two new classified drone programs — one unmanned counterpart for a stealth bomber, as well as a “loyal wingman”-style complement for advanced fighters. But much is still to be decided about the shape of both efforts, a source told Breaking Defense.
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall first disclosed to Politico earlier this month that the service would insert funding in its fiscal 2023 budget request for two new classified combat drones, but no further detail was available at the time.
Days later at a public appearance, however, Kendall spoke more specifically about a drone counterpart for the B-21 and a “loyal wingman”-style drone that would fight alongside the F-35, F-22 and future sixth generation fighter. A spokesman for Kendall confirmed later to Breaking Defense that those two unmanned aircraft are the ones the Air Force will seek to fund in FY23.
Here’s what we know about each aircraft:
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