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Monday, May 23, 2011

Boeing unveils next gen fighter concepts ...


By Stephen Trimble
THE DEW LINE


Boeing graciously heeded my pleas to interview someone about their 1/16th scale model and poster (above) at Navy League displaying two concepts for an all-new fighter jet that would appear after 2025.

I admit the idea of launching a development program for a new, at least optionally-manned fighter seems ludicrous after the early termination of F-22 production -- not to mention the ongoing concerns about F-35 cost and performance.

But a Boeing official told me the acquisition process for a new fighter for the US Navy and US Air Force has already begun. The navy has renamed its program from F/A-XX to next generation air dominance (NGAD) as it enters the analysis of alternatives stage. The air force, meanwhile, also is starting an alternatives study for an F-22 replacement.

As far-fetched as the idea seams, there is a real need. After the F-35 replaces the navy's F/A-18Cs and the air force's F-16s and A-10s, something has to replace the F/A-18E/F and F-22.

Boeing is betting that something will be a clean-sheet, tailless fighter design. Concepts displayed at Navy League show off a 40,000lb-class fighter for carrier decks. The air force would likely need an airframe at least 50% larger to replace the 60,000lb-class F-22. If the airframes are not common, the air force and navy would likely be pressured to share the cockpit avionics and -- possibly -- engines.

READ MORE AT THE DEWLINE

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