The future fighter of the US Air Force NGAD will cost "several hundred million dollars" the unit

Launched in the early 2010s as the last F-22 rolled off the production lines, the Next Generation Air Dominance program aimed to design and produce the replacement for Lockheed Martin's air superiority fighter by 2030. From 2018, under the impulse of very dynamic Will Roper, then director of acquisitions of the USAF, the program evolved to become the pillar of a new industrial approach to the design and production of combat aircraft, represented by the famous Digital Century Series, which promised to design specialized, inexpensive devices, in short series and equipped withrelatively short operational life, taking the absolute opposite of the drifts that gave birth to pharaonic programs like the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lighting II. After Joe Biden's victory in 2020, Will Roper was however dismissed, and the arrival of Franck Kendall as political director of the USAF put an end to this ambitious approach which, however, had the endorsement of the General Staff of the US Air Force itself, and of its chief of staff, General Brown.

Asked about the future price of the future NGAD, Air Force Secretary Franck Kendall indicated on April 28 that the program would undoubtedly be the most expensive ever developed by the US Air Force, and that each device would cost “several hundred million dollars” for a sixth-generation combat aircraft that will provide unprecedented capabilities with very high operational added value. In fact, and without the slightest doubt, all the original aspects that were to make the NGAD program a program of programs, giving birth to a family of specialized devices, have been eliminated to return to traditional programmatic management for the US Air Force but especially for the American industrialists, based on disproportionate technological ambitions fed by the important appropriations which Washington devotes to its defense.

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NGAD program to replace F-22 Raptor in early 2030s

It is true that for the big American industrialists, the paradigms developed by Will Roper in his time were far from being popular. Like their European counterparts, American aircraft manufacturers have indeed adapted perfectly to the constraints resulting from the budgetary tensions of the post-Cold War period, favoring the realization of margins on research and development work rather than on industrial production. inherently uncertain. In addition, technologist excesses, which nevertheless have created significant budgetary but also operational excesses for many American military programs, continue to have significant support at the Pentagon. In fact, the arrival of Franck Kendall at the Air Force Secretariat, known for his conservative positions in this area, left little hope of seeing Will Roper's original ideas continue after his ousting.

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