The upcoming sixth generation fighter aircraft is presumed to be the USAF’s successor to the fifth-gen F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, but details about the new jet are completely unknown.
As already reported the US Air Force (USAF) revealed on Sep. 15, 2020 that a new fighter jet prototype that could become its top combat aircraft has been secretly built and flown.
According to Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD, as the project is currently named) features a network of advanced fighter aircraft, sensors and weapons in a growing and unpredictable threat environment, defying the traditional categorization of a single platform.
In fact, besides saying that the new aircraft was conceived using digital engineering, which allows the service to bypass the regular manufacturing process for parts and gives developers more flexibility to design and change blueprints, Roper did not provide specifics on the project.
‘If I were to speculate (and I will), I would guess that there is a VERY healthy dose of F-35 DNA in this thing. Avionics and engines most likely, stealth coating systems probably,’ says Alex Jauch, author of The Kidd Incident, on Quora.
‘The critical piece of information here is, who built the thing? The DoD doesn’t build aircraft. It’s most likely from Boeing, Northrop Grumman or L-M.
‘If the aircraft was built by L-M, then it almost certainly has F-35 guts. They make the F-35. They also built the F-22 and the F-117 so they have decades of experience building stealth fighters.
‘But Boeing? What do they have?
‘They’ve got this:
‘Yes, the YF-23 was built by Northrop and McDonnell Douglas, but M-D was then acquired by Boeing. I think this means that Boeing (too) has access to the YF-23 plans and details now. Many say that the YF-23 was MORE stealthy than the F-22 but was considered “too risky” and the F-22 ultimately won the competition. Now that L-M owns the only stealth fighter program in the US, there may be some incentive for the DoD to give Boeing a contract just to be sure that L-M is not the only game in town.’
‘I would dearly love to hear that Boeing has built this prototype.
‘I find this prospect FASCINATING because I wrote about this in my book, The Kidd Incident. The novel is really a tribute to the Tom Clancy novel “Red Storm Rising” which is a similar work about a theoretical war between the USA and Russia in the North Atlantic. In that book, Clancy mostly kept himself to known and existing technology. With one major exception. He introduced a secret “Stealth Fighter” called the F-19A and nicknamed “The Frisbee.” This was a completely unknown concept at the time.
‘A few years later, it was revealed that the USAF did in fact have a secret stealth aircraft called the F-117 which saw action in Kosovo and in Iraq. There was speculation that he had access to secret information when he wrote the book but he insisted that he was merely speculating based on known research.
<<<SPOILER ALERT: STOP READING IF YOU DON”T WANT TO HEAR THE ENDING OF THE KIDD INCIDENT>>>
‘In my book, I also restrict myself to known and existing systems, aircraft, and ships.
‘I wanted some sort of ending that had a bit of a “wow” moment. I decided to indulge myself and invent a “black” program that didn’t really exist. In the book, I made up the idea that the USAF has a “black” aircraft flying at Groom Lake that is designed to be the successor to the F-22. One of the characters in the book is assigned to be the first squadron leader for this new, secret aircraft. I decided to base this aircraft on the YF-23 “Black Widow” and the storyline in the book is that YF-23 development didn’t really stop, it just became a black program resulting in an F-111 sized two engine interceptor.
‘At the time, it was known that the USAF was working on a program called “Next Generation Air Dominance” or NGAD. It was believed that this aircraft was AT LEAST five years from actual flight. So, I just made some guesses and made up the story that the plane is real and flying.’
And then, as we have explained, this happened.
‘To be clear, I had no idea that the USAF had an actual black aircraft flying at groom lake. It’s not a massive gap of the imagination because the F-22 is getting old and we know that the USAF has various “black” programs running there but I didn’t “know” it was true.
‘However, I find it strangely pleasing that both my book and Clancy’s book diverted from real and known programs in exactly the same way and that we both predicted actual USAF programs prior to their public disclosure.’
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force