The US Air Force claims to have tested and flown a ‘new prototype fighter jet’. According to analysts, this could be part of the sixth-generation fighter jet program called Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD).
“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it. We are ready to go and build the next-generation aircraft in a way that has never happened before,” Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (SAF AQ), was quoted as saying by Defense News.
In September 2019, the US Air Force reportedly said that the NGAD program could field a jet within 5 years, and a year later in September 2020, the USAF officially acknowledged the first NGAD prototype has been built and test-flown.
Despite such claims, details about the aircraft will remain a mystery as the NGAD program is classified. The development of a new fighter jet could make sense for the United States as it keeps preparing its soldiers for future warfare, and devising new strategies and SOPs for the same.
According to the sources, the USAF had achieved the first flight from the design phase in the record time of about a year. While no information was given about the manufacturer or the aircraft’s design, what is important is that the Air Force has proven it can wield advanced manufacturing techniques to build and test a virtual version of its next fighter, followed up by the construction of a full-scale prototype which can be flown with mission systems onboard, a US physicist and foreign policy strategist says.
“This is not just something that you can apply to things that are simple systems,” he said, referring to Boeing’s T-7 Red Hawk trainer jet, the first Air Force aircraft to be built using ‘digital engineering, software development and open architecture’, said Roper.
“We’re going after the most complicated systems that have ever been built, and checked all the boxes with this digital technology. In fact, (we’ve) not just checked the boxes, (but also) demonstrated something that’s truly magical,” he was quoted as saying by Sputnik.