US Air Force Has Secretly Flown Next-Gen Combat Aircraft

(Source: Air Force Magazine; posted Sept. 15, 2020)

By John A. Tirpak

The Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance combat aircraft, intended to complement or succeed the F-22 and F-35 in the air superiority role, has already flown, having been rapidly prototyped through modern digital design, Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper revealed Sept. 15.

Roper made the revelation at the end of a talk at AFA’s virtual Air, Space & Cyber Conference in which he said the Air Force is at an inflection point in how it will master future uncertainty.

Making an analogy to the choice facing the main character in the movie “The Matrix,” the Air Force can “choose the red pill” and accept a new reality and new ways of buying the equipment it needs, or do things the old-fashioned way—taking the “blue pill”—and “lose,” Roper said. In the movie, the main character can choose to “wake up” from an elaborate illusion to a harsh reality, or continue in the illusion, which is comforting but false and self-defeating.

He declined to give further details about the NGAD flights, except to say the aircraft has “broken a lot of records.”

In a press conference after his presentation, Roper said he was able to win approval only to reveal the flights, without giving away program details or discussing the aircraft’s performance, in order to reassure stakeholders inside and outside the Air Force that digital engineering is producing “real things…in the real world.” He declined to say, for example, whether the aircraft was competitively developed, what companies were involved, or whether it will be produced in its present form. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Air Force Magazine website.


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