The US Air Force will choose its new sixth-generation fighter in 2024.

The US Department of the Air Force has issued a classified industry solicitation for an engineering and manufacturing development contract for the Next Generation Air Dominance Platform (NGAD) program with the intent of awarding a contract in 2024. NGAD will replace the legendary F-22 Raptor as the main air superiority fighter.

“The NGAD platform is a vital element of the family of air domain systems that represents a generational leap in technology from the F-22, which it will replace,” said Frank Kendall, Secretary of the Air Force. 

“NGAD will include attributes such as increased lethality and the ability to survive, persist, interoperate and adapt in the air domain, all in highly contested operating environments.

 No one does it better than the US Air Force, but we will lose that advantage if we don’t move on now,” he added, clearly referencing Chinese technological progress.

This call formally begins the source selection process, providing the industry with the requirements that the DAF (Department of Air Force) expects for the NGAD as a future replacement for the F-22.

The NGAD acquisition strategy will strengthen and expand the industrial base to provide rapid and innovative combat capabilities.

The strategy incorporates lessons learned from recent Air Force acquisition programs and will take advantage of open architecture standards. This approach will enable the government to maximize competition throughout the life cycle, provide a broader and more responsive industry base, and dramatically reduce maintenance and sustaining costs.

The NGAD platform is one of many critical combat capabilities that will enable anti-air missions with the ability to engage air and ground threats to achieve air superiority and support the Joint Force.

Additional information about the technical and programmatic details of the NGAD Platform is classified to protect the operational and technological advantages. The Air Force plans to spend $2.3 billion on the program in fiscal year 2024 and another $595 million to continue engine development for the new fighter.

The Collaborative Combat Aircraft program (a program to develop unmanned combat aircraft equivalent to the Australian Loyal Wingman) is not part of this selection of NGAD Platform sources.

Gaston Dubois