The U.S. Air Force has published a report featuring concept art for the ‘Next Generation Air Dominance’ fighter.
Most details about the aircraft itself,beyond a rough idea of how it might look, remains a mystery due to the programme largely being classified.
According to USNI here, the U.S. Air Force has said that NGAD exists to examine five major technologies that are likely to appear on next generation aircraft, with the goal of enhancements in survivability, lethality, and persistence. It has not specified what four of those technologies are.
“The one acknowledged NGAD-related technology is propulsion. Over the past few years, the Air Force has invested substantially in variable cycle engines. Other likely candidates include new forms of stealth; advanced weapons, including directed energy; and thermal management. The current engine on the F-35 and its variants expected to be on the B-21 produce a tremendous amount of electrical power that can enable new weapons. That could require advanced techniques to manage generated heat, so that it does not become part of the aircraft signatures and make the plane easier to detect.”
Describing the programme, the report says:
“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.”
In September 2020, U.S. Air Force acquisition executive Dr. Will Roper announced that the Air Force had flown a full-scale flight demonstrator as part of the Next-Generation Air Dominance programme.
The announcement came as a surprise to many observers, both as the NGAD program was believed to be an early-phase technology development program unlikely to yield hardware in the near term, and because funding began two years ago, which is unusually fast to design and build a military aircraft.
Additionally, you can read more about the UK’s own next generation fighter by following the link below.