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US Navy accelerates development of Next-Gen carrier fighters.

| 2020

The Navy has started discussing with contractors about a next-generation manned fighter, its first new carrier aircraft in almost 20 years. There is now a program office for the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) initiative, the service’s top acquisitions official, James Geurts, said last week, according to USNI News.

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US Navy accelerates development of Next Gen carrier fighters 925 001 An early rendering of the Boeing F/A-XX proposal. (Picture source: Boeing)

Although the F/A-XX platform will be a sixth-generation fighter aircraft, the service is reluctant to talk about a new aircraft. Indeed, the Navy is at the very start of the Next Generation Air Dominance, or F/A-XX development process, having completed an analysis of alternatives in June 2019, as well as broad requirements and guidance for a concept of operations.

According to USNI News, the Navy plans to seek a wholly new design, rather than a derivative design of aircraft already on the production line, for the sixth-generation fighter.

A range of next-generation technologies may be explored including maximum sensor connectivity, and electronically configured "smart skins." Maximum connectivity refers to massively increased communications and sensor technology, such as having the ability to connect with satellites, other aircraft, and anything providing real-time battlefield information.

The service initially wanted the aircraft ready in the 2030s but will try to accelerate the timeline to replace F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as they reach their maximum flight time.

US Navy accelerates development of Next Gen carrier fighters 925 002 The Navy plans to curtail F/A-18 Super Hornet production in fiscal 2022. It remains unclear, however, whether that effort will be successful. (Picture source: MC3 Kelly M. Agee/U.S. Navy)

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