WASHINGTON — A U.S. Air Force general is interested in retrofitting tankers with technology that will alter the radar image of the plane, making it appear to be "either in a different location" or "reduced [in size] or disappears altogether: Now you see me, now you don't."
Gen. Carlton Everhart, the head of the Air Mobility Command, has spoken about this to technology companies, defense contractors, military service laboratories and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, according to Bloomberg Politics. His request stems from his concern that "the enemy doesn't have to look for the fighter" but merely needs to find the tankers that are refueling them.
Everhart said industry members wondered if he'd been watching too much science fiction, but he stood firm in his request. "I said: 'Listen to me — this is what I want — something that would be able to change the waveform."
In the meantime, the Air Force commander is focused on the threat of a pilot shortage, which threatens to get worse. There is a shortage of 300 pilots within Air Mobility Command; however, this number threatens to increase as an estimated 1,600 more pilots will become eligible to leave the service in 2021.
Everhart will attend a conference at the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on May 18. The conference will host representatives of 23 civilian airlines, top service officials, and representatives of the National Guard and Air Force Reserve to discuss joint efforts for training and recruiting pilots.
Everhart said he is unable to "outspend the airlines" and therefore must "be complementary" with the competition.