At the forefront of innovation, the United States Air Force is accelerating the development of its formidable next-generation Fighting Eagle: the NGAD.
The War of the Future: Aerial Technology to Overcome the Titans
With unwavering emphasis, America’s sky generals advocate the need for a total government approach to arming their brave airmen with this brand new winged beast, the NGAD, before the dawn of the next decade wakes up.
Thus, the NGAD emerges as an inalienable flagship for the Air Force, without fear of the possible investment of countless millions of dollars, exceeding the budget allocations of its predecessors, such as the F-35.
In light of its significance for the defense of the starry sky, the true weight of this great initiative invites a more careful inspection of its merits and requirements.
NGAD: A Phoenix Ascending from the Ashes of Past Experience
NGAD’s lineage dates back to 2015 when Air Force planners envisioned it as a technology demonstrator, an “X” program, a steel alpha soaring through the clouds of imagination and military acumen.
Today, the vision takes material form, emerging powerfully from its engineering and manufacturing phase of development, says Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall.
With the unstoppable advance of the NGAD, its target is focused on the horizon, where the competition of sixth-generation fighters from China is located. The race for air supremacy has begun.
The Shadow of the Dragon: Air Rivalry with China
China’s great war factory has been giving birth to the J-20, its fifth-generation aerial leviathan, at the rate of 20 to 30 winged beasts annually.
In this theater of high competition, the NGAD aims to succeed the revered F-22 Raptor, overcoming the future operating cost concerns that the Raptor has left in its wake.
The New Era of Drones: From the Family of Systems to Artificial Intelligence
Like an invisible general in the skies, NGAD will also lead the development of drones like the Valkyrie, demonstrating the “Loyal Wingman” network concept.
From its vantage point, NGAD will control unmanned combat ships in a “family of systems.” The Valkyrie, in turn, will be able to deploy swarms of smaller drones and will be a key piece of the Skyborg artificial intelligence program, which will govern these unmanned emissaries of the air.
The Winged Colossus NGAD: Range and Stealth Challenges
Like a steel eagle defying distance, NGAD is faced with the compelling need to spread its wings over the vast Indo-Pacific theater under the ever-lengthening shadow of Chinese power. Strategic sites such as Guam are emerging as a point of deployment, with the urgent need to reach distant targets without the need for aerial resupply.
An optimum horizon of more than 2,000 nautical miles is drawn on the sky, allowing the fighter to trace a line from Guam to Okinawa in a single flight. But this challenge is magnified by the sharp vision of the Chinese dragon, capable of detecting the resupply of a tanker, which could compromise the stealth of the NGAD winged eagle.
The NGAD: The Versatility of a Sky Warrior
With a price tag rivaling its majesty, the NGAD is a titan that must rule the air and the land.
On its wings rests the responsibility for unparalleled effectiveness in air combat and ground attack, with its long-range being a flying fortress in defense of allies such as Japan or South Korea, or even Taiwan in the event of a Chinese siege.
NGAD: The Challenge of High-Flying and Large Fuel Deposits
The NGAD is meant to fly at eagle heights, climbing as high as 70,000 feet to evade radar.
This aerial titan requires unmatched fuel storage capacity to evade the need for external fuel tanks and aerial resupply. It becomes a winged creature of gigantic proportions, surpassing its predecessors, the F-22 and F-35.
The NGAD: Heir to the Legacy of the F-22
According to John Venable of the Heritage Foundation, NGAD represents a historic turning point since F-22 fleet reduction decisions were made in past administrations. In its early days, the F-22 was designed to replace every F-15A/C in the Air Force’s inventory. However, the purchase was slashed, resulting in insufficient F-22s to take on comparable adversaries.
The NGAD now sets out to play that crucial role, re-emerging as the winged colossus that airs superiority demands. In Venable’s words, it is absolutely necessary.
The Value of NGAD: Balancing Cost and Effectiveness
Venable concedes that the NGAD’s price tag, estimated at several hundred million dollars per unit, could be a Damocles sword hanging over the effectiveness of the future fighting bird. In the words of the expert, “Time will be the judge if NGAD is worth its weight in gold, but the astronomical costs will limit the number of these steel birds we can deploy, and in this game of aerial titans, number matters.”
The Loyal Wingman Function: A Force Multiplier
For Venable, NGAD’s Loyal Wingman role looms as a strategic conundrum, promising to multiply the Air Force’s capability potentially. “By placing these unmanned winged companions at the forefront of the areas of greatest threat, this strategy can limit the loss of human life,” says the expert.
Russia and China: Challengers in the Race for Next-Generation Fighters
For the Heritage Foundation analyst, NGAD could be the catalyst that drives Russia and China to take a generational leap in their fighters. With the arms race already underway, Venable notes that “the boundaries that define one generation of fighter from another are usually clear, but I have yet to observe a capability so remarkably advanced that it leaves the current generation in the lurch.”
In a world where Russia and China begin to field their own fifth-generation fighters, these two global giants will no doubt be looking to compete when the United States rolls out its next generation of warbirds.
NGAD: The Imperative Necessity and Economic Viability
The high price of NGAD is a formidable barrier, although mass production if NGAD can be realized by 2030, could reduce unit marginal cost.
If the F-22 begins to give its last legs in the next few years, the NGAD will have to take its place, becoming an unavoidable necessity.
And with China and Russia rushing to deploy 5th generation fighters, the United States may have no choice but to bank on the majesty of NGAD.