Posted BY: | NwoReport

On May 18, the United States Department of the Air Force announced that it is looking to award a contract for the Next Generation Air Dominance Platform in 2024. The name, shortened to NGAD, is a jumble of Pentagon concepts, obscuring what is actually sought: a novel fighter jet representing the newest era of military aircraft—a sixth-generation fighter.

“The NGAD Platform is a vital element of the Air Dominance family of systems which represents a generational leap in technology over the F-22, which it will replace,” Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall said in a release. “NGAD will include attributes such as enhanced lethality and the ability to survive, persist, interoperate, and adapt in the air domain, all within highly contested operational environments. No one does this better than the U.S. Air Force, but we will lose that edge if we don’t move forward now.”

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The solicitation to industry for the NGAD is classified, making the details of what, exactly, the Air Force wants hard to know at this time. But jet fighters have, for decades, been classified into generations. So what makes a fighter generation, and what makes a sixth-generation fighter?

“In calling NGAD a sixth-generation fighter, that’s an important signal that it’s moving into a new level of capability, and it has to because the threats are really evolving,” says Caitlin Lee, a senior fellow at Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

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