In order to rectify these tipping scales, the U.S. Air Force is developing its Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program. A new Six Generation fighter will be the center of the program, which is expected to enter service sometime in the late 2030s.
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The history of the NGAD program:
The NGAD program was conceptualized nearly one decade ago when DARPA studies were initiated to explore new technologies for air superiority systems for both the Air Force and Navy.
Last year, manufacturer Lockheed Martin released mock-up images for the next-generation program. These images, and the little information that has been released by the Air Force, sum up what we know about the program. The highly classified program will be developed by either Lockheed Martin or Boeing. Northrop Grumman was also a contender, however, reports suggest that the manufacturer took itself out of the bidding process this summer. The mock-up images released by Lockheed depict a sleek and tailless airframe with refueling drawn from the LMXT tanker concept, which enables greater stealth and lower observability.
What (little) we know:
Although we don’t know how fast this new jet will be able to cruise, Lockheed’s rendering appeared on the manufacturer’s Instagram handle alongside images of well-known speedy airframes, including the Raptor, the SR-71 Blackbird and the F-117 Nighthawk. The F-22 can fly at speeds nearing Mach 2.0 (times the speed of sound) at altitudes reaching 60,000 feet. Analysts predict that the NGAD fighter will be able to fly with comparable capabilities.
America has the muscle of finances, technology, and great minds to make new and better models and in the foreseeable future, we wait to see what they have been cooking.