Wednesday, September 16, 2020

What a shock USAF reveals it's built and flown a 6th Gen stealth fighter.


The U.S. Air Force revealed this week that it has secretly designed, built, and tested a new prototype fighter jet. The fighter, about which we know virtually nothing, has already flown and “broken records.” (The image above is Air Force concept art from 2018). The Air Force must now consider how it will buy the new fighter as it struggles to acquire everything from intercontinental ballistic missiles to bombers.

The Air Force’s head of acquisition, Will Roper, made the announcement yesterday in an exclusive interview with Defense News, in conjunction with the Air Force Association’s virtual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference.

according to Defense News, the Air Force developed the new fighter in about a year—a staggeringly short amount of time by modern standards. The Air Force first developed a virtual version of the jet, and then proceeded to build and fly a full-sized prototype, complete with mission systems. This is in stark contrast to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The X-35, an early technology demonstrator, first flew in 2000, four years after Lockheed Martin signed the contract to build it. It might be better, however to compare this new mystery jet to the first actual F-35 fighter, which flew in 2006.

The Air Force designed the NGAD to ensure the service’s “air dominance” in future conflicts versus the fighters of potential adversaries. The new fighter, then, is almost certainly optimized for air-to-air combat. It’s a safe bet the fighter uses off-the-shelf avionics, engines, and weapons borrowed from other aircraft, such as the F-35 and F/A-18E/F. In fact, NGAD may look a lot like one of these fighters, though if the Air Force wanted a stealthy design to riff off, there’s only one (F-35) currently in production.

Noteworthy the author of this blog, and another photographer photographed 3 aircraft looking remarkably like the NGAD concept flying south of Amarillo, Texas LINK in 2014.  A Kansas photographer also photographed a single jet in February of 2014. LINK

When asked the USAF said no B-2s were flying on the dates in question either from their home base at Whiteman AFB or at Edwards in California. 

After Aviation Week and Space Technology ran the photos and story on the unidentified aircraft, the USAF responded with a very expensive and open display on April9, of 2014 B-2s flying several B-2 sorties over Kansas and Texas,  LINK  and then later stating the mystery aircraft were B-2s - in an attempt to discredit the sightings and photographs. 

The most interesting thing the  Air Force has claimed that it had built and flown the NGAD prototype in just one year. The world hasn’t seen such a short development time since World War II. In fact, the trend has been for fighters to require longer, more expensive development times as technology becomes more complex—particularly with the adoption of stealth.

China’s Chengdu J-20 fighter, for example, broke cover in 2011 after at least 10 years of development time, while Russia's Sukhoi Su-57 “Felon” fighter still hasn't entered production, despite the fact that we first saw it in 2010.

The possibility that a 10-year development cycle has been shortened to just one year seems highly unlikely unless the NGAD  design is based on other unacknowledged secret aircraft that may have been the trio sighted in 2014. 


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