US secret “super fighter” has competition launched

US Air Force (USAF) has sent an application to aircraft manufacturers to formalize proposals for the NGAD program, a 6th generation fighter that will replace the F-22 Raptor

The US Air Force (USAF) has revealed that it has sent a classified solicitation to the nation’s aircraft manufacturers to receive proposals for engineering and manufacturing development for the Next Generation Air Domain Platform (NGAD).

The aircraft is the 6th gen fighter that is expected to replace the Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor as the USAF’s main stealth fighter aircraft.

According to the service, the plan is to close a contract as early as 2024. The request is the formal start of the supplier selection process thanks to the definition of the aircraft’s requirements, obtained in secret tests carried out in recent years.

The Air Force even flew a conceptual aircraft that incorporates the elements studied for the future fighter. It is not yet known which manufacturers participated in this phase.

“The NGAD Platform is a vital element of the Air Dominance family of systems which represents a generational leap in technology over the F-22, which it will replace,” said Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall.

NGAD will include attributes such as enhanced lethality and the ability to survive, persist, interoperate, and adapt in the air domain, all within highly contested operational environments. No one does this better than the U.S. Air Force, but we will lose that edge if we don’t move forward now.”

USAF alleged artwork of the NGAD program (USAF)

Ground attack capability

The future 6th generation super fighter will be designed and manufactured using digital tools and an open architecture platform capable of being updated with innovative technologies.

Although the statement does not mention which companies the application was sent to, it is natural that they are Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, manufacturers that supplied the latest US fighter planes.

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In parallel, the USAF is also studying a new engine under the Next Generation Adaptive Propulsion program, with the participation of Pratt & Whitney and General Electric.

F-22 Raptor (USAF)

An interesting aspect of the NGAD has been confirmed by the air force, the ground attack capability since the inception of the concept.

“The NGAD Platform is one of many critical combat capabilities that will enable counter-air missions with the ability to strike both airborne and ground-based threats to achieve air superiority and support the Joint Force,” the USAF said.

It is believed that the fighter that emerged from the NGAD program should enter service by the end of the decade.


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