NGAD Deadline: The Air Force’s Next Generation Fighter Will Be Selected in 2024 – Breaking Defense

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Northrop NGAD sixth generation fighter concept (1)

The Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program envisions various types of unmanned aircraft in collaboration with a sixth generation fighter. (Nortrop Grumman)

Updated 5/18/23 at 3:00 PM ET with details of Milestone B fighter’s decision.

WASHINGTON — The Air Force has officially begun soliciting proposals for its secretive next-generation fighter, according to a press release from the service, with the goal of awarding a contract for the aircraft next year.

“The Department of the Air Force has issued a confidential request to industry for the engineering and manufacturing development contract for the Next Generation Air Dominance Platform with intent to award a contract in 2024,” the statement reads, which does not say specifically when the notice was posted. “This issuance of solicitation formally begins the source selection process to provide industry with the requirements DAF anticipates for the NGAD, as a future replacement for the F-22.”

“The NGAD platform is a vital member of the family of air control systems that represents a leap in technology compared to the F-22, which it will replace.” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in the statement. The NGAD will include attributes such as enhanced lethality and the ability to survive, persist, interact and adapt in airspace, all within highly competitive operational environments. Nobody does this better than the US Air Force, but we will lose that advantage if we don’t step up now.”

According to the release, the NGAD program will leverage “open engineering standards” to ensure contractors can compete to maintain the aircraft throughout its life cycle, which will help reduce costs to keep the aircraft flying. The pool of vendors vying to build the plane is unclear, though defense giants Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman are presumably in the mix.

air Force They ask for billions of dollars Over the next five years of NGAD’s research and development efforts, with Initial purchase of 200 planned, although the price of the fighter is currently unclear. However, Kendall hinted that it would be incredibly expensive, being “multiples of the F-35”, potentially totaling several hundred million per tail.

Separately, the fighter will be fitted with an adaptive engine developed through the Next Generation Adaptive Propulsion Program (NGAP), building on work done by an adaptive engine transmission program that officials are seeking to shut down in fiscal 2024. General Electric and Pratt & Whitney are both vying to build NGAD Power Plant, where a GE official recently suggested that increased funding for NGAP could carry both vendors through the prototyping stage.

According to the statement, the Cooperative Combat Air Force’s UAVs that will join NGAD in combat will be separate from the fighter solicitation operation.

At least one prototype of NGAD is It is known that he flew in 2020, but the show’s high levels of ratings have mostly shrouded its status in secrecy. Last year, Kendall said the software had entered the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) stage of the fighter, though he later backtracked to clarify that the software hadn’t passed the B-mark that officially marks EMD, according to A report in Defense News.

Following Kendall’s remarks, the Department of Defense’s Inspector General launched a review of NGAD “to determine the extent to which the Air Force demonstrated that critical technologies used in Next Generation Air Control (NGAD) combat aircraft were mature enough to support entry into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of NGAD Program Acquisition Timeline,” according to the Sept. 26 memo [PDF].

The results of that review have not been made public, though Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanik told Breaking Defense in a statement that “at the end of source selection, the program will go to the Service Acquisition Officer (SAE) to decide on the Milestone B award of the bidder’s EMD contract.” winner.”

According to Kendall, the Air Force plans to field the fighter by the end of the decade.

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