Designed to complement the F-35, F-22 joint and partner forces in the Air Superiority role, Next Generation Air Dominance is an advanced aircraft program for development of penetrating counter air platforms with multi-domain situational awareness.
As noted by Alert5, the US Air Force (USAF) has published its biennial report for acquisition last week and the concept art for the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) can be found on page 28.
According to the report “A highly advanced dynamic threat demands a different way of doing business. The Next Generation Air Dominance is a family of capabilities that enable Air Superiority in the most challenging operational environments by enforcing the development pillars of digital engineering, agile software development, and open architectures. By executing shorter technology development cycles, the program matures technology and reduces risk through prototyping and operational experimentation. This delivers enhancements in survivability, lethality and persistence for a highly-contested environment.
“Designed to complement the F-35, F-22 joint and partner forces in the Air Superiority role, Next Generation Air Dominance is an advanced aircraft program for development of penetrating counter air platforms with multi-domain situational awareness, agile resilient communications, and an integrated family of capabilities. The program uses a non-traditional acquisition approach to avoid traditional monolithic program schedules and exorbitant life-cycle sustainment costs. This strategy, called the Digital Century Series approach, creates a realistic business case for industry to adopt commercial best practices for key design activities – before a part is even manufactured.”
As already reported, a new fighter jet prototype that could become the USAF top combat aircraft has been secretly built and flown by the service, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics Dr. Will Roper revealed on Sep. 15, 2020 during the virtual 2020 Air, Space and Cyber conference. On Sep. 18 the US Air Force Material Command (AFMC) revealed the (delta) shape of a new aircraft thought to be that of USAF NGAD in a tweet that celebrated the 73rd birthday of the service. As it can be noted by looking at the following picture, that rendering had some resemblance with the concept art just released in USAF biennial report for acquisition.
According to Roper the NGAD 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.
He said: “NGAD right now is designing, assembling, testing in the digital world, exploring things that would have cost time and money to wait for physical world results. NGAD has come so far that the full-scale flight demonstrator has already flown in the physical world. It’s broken a lot of records in the doing.”
Roper did not provide specifics on the project. He only said 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. The USAF announced on Sep. 14, 2020 that any weapon made using digital concepts will have an “e-” prefix in an effort to showcase these innovative processes.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force