US military aircraft are being given a massive upgrade that could help keep the US air force in a constant state of war, according to a report from The New York Times.
The air-defence system, known as a ‘phosphorous feeder’ or ‘pho’, is being designed to keep aircraft flying by adding anti-air defence devices to the wings and fuselages of the aircraft.
This upgrade, the paper said, will help the US “maintain an air defence force that is capable of defending against multiple threats simultaneously”.
The report said that the plan is part of a “massive US military program that will see the country’s most heavily armed aircraft delivered to key installations in the coming years”.
The US has a large fleet of ageing aircraft, but the upgrades are meant to speed up the rate at which the fleet can be upgraded.
It said the US will be able to fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in 2020, and that the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which is due to enter service in 2022, would also be able be upgraded to the next generation.
But the upgrade program has also been criticised by defence analysts who say the US is still not getting the most out of its new weapons.
“The F-15E, F-16, F/E, and F-18 will not be able do the work they were designed to do,” said retired Air Force Maj Gen Robert Geller, a former senior defence analyst at the Pentagon.
“I am not sure how they will operate against an enemy that is able to jam the F15E’s radar and other electronic warfare systems.”
The US is currently spending $6.7bn (£4.2bn) on the pho system, which includes new radar, radar upgrades, communications systems, missiles, aircraft avionics and communications systems.