The Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program, intended to produce a sixth-generation fighter jet for the US Air Force (USAF), has entered engineering, manufacturing, and development (EMD) phase.
The aircraft is now expected to enter production and presumably provide operational capability by the end of the 2020s.
The news was revealed by the USAF Secretary Frank Kendall in a Heritage Foundation talk on June 1, 2022, The War Zone reports.
“We basically had an X-plane program, which was designed to reduce the risk in some of the key technologies that we would need for a production program,” Kendall explained to The War Zone.
He also confirmed that the development of the NGAD concerns not only the manned jet, which is taking the central position, but a whole system of aircraft, weapons and sensors.
The “system of systems” approach is touted as the key concept behind the next generation of fighter jets that are supposed to act as a part of a team of manned, optionally manned and unmanned aircraft, with a set of complex informational infrastructure facilitating unprecedented levels of data sharing and partial autonomy.
Read more: Sketching the 6th generation fighter jet
In 2022, the USAF revealed that they have already flown a full-scale demonstrator for the NGAD program, however, very little information about it has been revealed.
The USAF budget proposal for 2023 saw further steady increase in financing for the NGAD program, adding $1.6 billion to it.