Several pictures released by Lockheed Martin appear to show an as yet-unseen rendering of a sixth-generation fighter jet.
The images portray the Lockheed Martin LMXT tanker – the locally-adapted Airbus A330 MRTT offered for the KC-Y competition – while it refuels a tail-less flying wing-type jet with a sharp nose and diamond-shaped engine nozzles.
The new pictures were released during a media briefing about the LMXT on October 25, 2022. It appears the new fighter was included as an Easter egg, because the company did not add the render to their website, which contains the same image of the LMXT but refueling the F-35 fighter jet.
At a briefing for reporters this morning on its LMXT refueling tanker, Lockheed Martin released two concept art images of LMXT gassing up an NGAD fighter. This isn’t necessarily what NGAD would look like, they said, but an interesting glimpse nevertheless. pic.twitter.com/hgfneG4AL9— Stephen Loose-eye (@StephenLosey) October 25, 2022
The appearance of the aircraft is broadly similar to several previous renderings of the fighter jet Lockheed Martin is reportedly developing as part of the US Air Force Next Generation Air Dominance program.
Two such designs have been unveiled thus far, one of them sporting a V-tail and broadly similar to the Northrop Grumman YF-23 prototype from the 1990s, and another one likely connected to the US Navy’s F/A-XX program from the early 2010s.
The latter bears an uncanny resemblance to the triangular jet seen in Lockheed Martin’s latest image, likely confirming that the company is still working on the design.
NGAD is the name of two programs – one run by the US Air Force, and another one run by the US Navy – that seek to develop a prospective combat aircraft aimed at replacing some of existing fourth- and fifth-generation fighter jets.
The fighter jet itself is considered only part of the NGAD program and it is supposed to be accompanied by a host of semi-autonomous combat drones that would greatly expand its capability.