State-of-the-art and (notional) future receiver architectures have increasingly challenging power consumption and power density requirements under the constraints of limited air vehicle resources. In addition, there is a trend to increase functionality requirements by implementing ongoing technology enhancements and realizing more advanced system and processor architectures. These ongoing developments, in turn, require the development of advanced thermal management and analysis techniques in order to address the resulting systems implementation and integration issues. The analysis presented in this paper is motivated by these continual advances in solid state technology that push for evolving specifications in system size reduction, increasing processor speed, and the increased desire to design “smart” or “intelligent” sensors and subsystems that have superior versatility. A number of contemporary system architectures that are under development within the thermal management community are discussed in order to demonstrate the specific trends and relationships between subsystem-level requirements that evolve and generate significant increases in functionality and the resulting thermal management challenges due to the additional power requirements and heat generation issues associated with advanced receiver subsystem technologies. Perspectives with regard to a set of critical trade-offs between current and future thermal management requirements and achievable functionality are provided.