NGAD: the new stealth fighter that could transform the Air Force


NGAD, the US Air Force’s new sixth-generation fighter project, will clearly have to pass some pretty high standards to become a reality. Above all, it will have to massively outperform the F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters and already looks quite expensive. Can all this happen? We asked an expert to explain where this is all heading: The US Air Force’s sixth-generation fighter continued to take shape, and it was recently reported that the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program has entered the critical engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) phase. ). The highly classified fighter program began early experimental prototyping in 2015 and has made steady progress.

“We have now launched a [engineering, manufacturing and development] program to make the development aircraft that we will put into production,” Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall said at an event at the Heritage Foundation. “We believe we will have the capability by the end of the decade.”

However, due to the classified nature of the design efforts, the senior Air Force civilian official could provide few details about the sixth-generation manned fighter, which is expected to be the centerpiece of the family of systems. NGAD. What has been publicly acknowledged about the aircraft is that it will be fitted with a variety of new weapons and sensors; and that he will be supported by a variety of drones – called “Loyal Wingmen”.

The Air Force had flown a prototype version of the NGAD fighter in 2020 but released little information about the aircraft or even its manufacturer.

“What we did was an experimental prototype,” Kendall said. “We basically had an X aircraft program designed to de-risk some of the key technologies that we would need for a production program.”

On track for late 2020 IOC

Kendall also confirmed this week that the development of the NGAD is more than the manned jet, which is the core component, but will include “systems of systems” of aircraft, weapons and sensors. The program’s goal has been to field the new aircraft and other systems by the end of the 2020s.

“The clock didn’t really start in 2015; it starts pretty much now,” Kendall continued. “We believe we will have the capability by the end of the decade.”

It typically takes about seven years for U.S. Air Force acquisition programs to reach initial operating capability (IOC) from the start of the EMD phase, Defense News reported.

Expensive effort

The NGAD is also on track to become the most expensive aircraft program in history, and Kendall even told lawmakers in April that each of the sixth-generation manned aircraft would likely cost several hundred million dollars.

“The key to NGAD’s success is ensuring that costs are in line with expectations and that Washington is getting the most out of the deficit dollars it will surely spend,” said Harry J. Kazianis, President and CEO. from the Rogue States Project. “What the Air Force needs to do is manage the narrative of the project now before it reaches the wider public consciousness. They need to explain that, yes, it will be expensive and be transparent about it. However, that cost is balanced by the abilities he will bring to the table as well as the fact that he can take on Russia and China in any future conflict.

The Air Force has already taken to Capitol Hill to ask lawmakers about $1.7 billion to fund the NGAD program in its fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget. This included $133 million for research, development, testing and evaluation funding.

Kendal also made it clear that he expects Air Force acquisition programs to move into production sooner, and in his remarks this week he suggested that past development efforts had been too slow.

“I’m not interested in demos and experiments unless they’re a necessary step on the road to real capability,” Kendall said. “What we tend to do is do a quick demo and then we have to start an EMD or development program and wait for several more years because we haven’t started the development function. If we don’t need it to reduce risk, we need to go straight to development for production and get there as fast as possible.

Today’s editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He writes regularly on military hardware and is the author of several books on military headgear, including A gallery of military hairstyles, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing author for Forbes.

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