An interesting mention in the interview which I believe underscores the potential role of either the B-21 or the RQ-180 as a communications relay node in the system of systems approach in a 5th generation F-35 CONOPs.
If they ever do see an F-35, which is highly unlikely, it will never be alone. We’re going be there in space — we’ve been there for a while; we’re going to be there with high altitude, ISR; we’re going be there with the B-21.
As I mentioned before, the F-35 is central in delivering the common operating picture (COP) but that live data stream cannot be integrated to C2 without some kind of communications relay node.
A 5th generation battlespace requires a whole new generation of eco system build around it that would change tactics, decision making and command and control. When Germany due to politics opted not to buy the F-35, it is missing out not only the capabilities of a 5th generation asset but will fall behind a generation in how modern warfare will be conducted. It will have difficulty leaping from 4th to 6th generation without the foundation so necessary in the 5th. .