US Next Generation Air Dominance Growth Opportunities
This study provides insights about the state of the US Air Force-managed Next Generation Air Defense (NGAD) program, which is a proposed family of air platforms that would include a 6th-generation fighter, wingman drones capable of combat autonomy, and support drones that can carry a combination of fuel, ammunition, and sensors. One of the more disruptive capabilities would be to fight at “machine speed” thanks to the Internet of Military Things. War at machine speed (searching, identifying, targeting, and destroying automatically) would accelerate and overwhelm the enemy’s decision-making capabilities.
On Sept. 15, 2020, then USAF acquisition chief Will Roper announced that the service had flown a full-scale flight demonstrator as part of the NGAD program. On May 14, 2021, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Integration, and Requirements Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote stated that a second demonstrator might be in some stage of production now.
Roper also introduced a new defense concept that he called “the digital trinity,” saying that it is the true successor to stealth technology and the biggest paradigm shift for military technology dominance. The study looks at the concept in more detail.
Because of delays in the release of the 2022 President’s Budget, all NGAD program budget information in this research product is derived from 2021 budget. Detailed competitor data associated with the NGAD program is unavailable (much of the information is either classified or not releasable to the public). Growth drivers, restraints, and opportunities are based on available data obtained from both primary and secondary resources.
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