US Air Force formally kicks-off competition for sixth-generation fighter

By Defence Industry Europe

The US Air Force has officially launched the competition for its highly classified Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) fighter aircraft. The service recently issued a contract solicitation for the engineering and manufacturing phase of the program, marking the commencement of the source selection process.

While the requirements for the sixth-generation aircraft development have been provided to interested vendors, the specific details of the solicitation remain undisclosed to safeguard operational and technological advantages.

“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,” Secretary of the US Air Force Frank Kendall said. “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.”

Leading American aerospace companies, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing, are anticipated to be the frontrunners in this fierce competition.

The NGAD fighter aircraft, once developed, will serve as a replacement for Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor. As a next-generation tactical combat aircraft, it will possess the ability to operate in conjunction with drones, offering the air force a crucial combat capability for counter-air operations.

The fighter jet is expected to excel in achieving air superiority, with the capability to effectively engage both airborne and ground-based threats. US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall emphasized that the NGAD will incorporate enhanced lethality, survivability, interoperability, and adaptability in the air domain.

The NGAD competition represents a pivotal milestone in the development of cutting-edge fighter aircraft, highlighting the US Air Force’s commitment to ensuring the nation’s air superiority in an increasingly complex and dynamic global security landscape.



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