The new sixth-generation fighter jet of the US Air Force has now entered the development phase, confirmed Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall. He revealed that the Air Force has started the engineering and manufacturing phase of the state-of-the-art aircraft.
New weapons and sensor systems shall be fitted in the top-secret aircraft, which will be accompanied by several drones on air missions.
Aircraft Could Enter The Service By 2030
The secretary ensured that these aircraft could enter the service by the end of the decade.
The jet will be equipped with key technologies such as propulsion, stealth, advanced weapons, and thermal management of aircraft signatures are all set to see major upgrades in this aircraft. The Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP), which some believe is unaffordable for the F-35s, could possibly be a part of the next-generation aircraft, according to Interesting Engineering.
The sixth-generation aircraft is expected to cost almost twice of an F-35 fighter jet.
"What we did was an experimental prototype, we basically had an X plane program which was designed to reduce the risk of some of the key technologies that we would need for a production program," revealed Kendall during an event at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday.
Fighter Jet is Centerpiece of NGAD Programme
But he didn't disclose more details about the program as it's one of the most secret weapon development missions of the US.
It's believed that the development of the next-generation fighter jet is the centerpiece of the US Air Force's Next Generation Air Dominance systems.
Lockheed Martin Could Become a Manufacturer
A full-scale prototype of the sixth-generation fighter jet for testing and evolution was developed in 2020, according to the US Air Force.
Lockheed Martin is the main contender to build the NGAD fighter jet while Boeing and Northrop Grumman are also in the queue.
But Lockheed has an advantage as it has previously built F-22 and F-35, stealth-capable fifth-generation aircraft.