U.S. Naval Aviation begins work on a successor to the F-35 fighter jet
WASHINGTON, (BM) – With an enviable frequency, a kind of war flares up in the United States – some kind of the country’s armed forces stutters about the need to make a new plane and serious showdowns begin between the military, sailors or marines and those who are responsible for the distribution of taxpayers’ funds [and manufacturers, too, sometimes “Connect”].
This time the fuse was set on fire by the fleet aviation, without any fanfare, which began work on the project of a promising deck-based multifunctional fighter.
In terms of the intensity of passions, all these stories about programs for the development of fighters, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, helicopters and other expensive military “toys” often surpass the highest grossing blockbusters.
That there is only one epic on the creation of a single strike fighter [Joint Strike Fighter, JSF], the result of which was not one F-35, but three very different aircraft at once [options A, B and C].
In short, in order to save money and maximize unification, a single multifunctional platform for the Air Force, Navy and Marines should have been obtained.
Instead of unification between the three versions of the fighter at the level of 70% of parts, it was possible to achieve the share of common components in the design of only about 25%. As a result, the cost of the program skyrocketed [pardon the pun], and the number of technical problems that engineers had to solve nearly exceeded those for three separate development programs. For all its merits, the F-35 turned out to be a shining example of why making a single aircraft for very different types of aviation is a bad idea.
Apparently, the sailors have learned their lesson and are now going to make a sixth generation combat aircraft separately from the Air Force and the Marine Corps. As it became known to the USNI News portal, at the moment the office of the program has already been formed and its leaders have been appointed. The Navy expects to complete all preparations in FY2020 because FY2021 will be the last time it still has a chance to budget for such large spending as fighter development.
The appearance of the platform has not yet been fully formed, it is only known that it will have to replace the entire family of “Hornets”, which now form the basis of carrier-based aviation. Namely – the Boeing F / A-18 Super Hornet of modifications E and F, plus EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft created on its basis.
Comparing the promising fighter with the fifth generation coming to the decks of aircraft carriers in the person of the F-35C, representatives of the naval aviation describe it as “the same cabbage soup, but thicker.”
In other words, NGAD (Next Generation Air Dominance – [fighter] for conquering air supremacy of the next generation F / A-XX) will have a larger range without refueling [the fleet wants at least a thousand nautical miles], have low visibility and all the “chips” F-35, but at the same time perform the tasks of the “Hornets”.
And these are very ambitious plans. Moreover, they must be implemented before the beginning of the 2030s, so that the sailors are not left without aircraft, when the rapidly depleting F / A-18E / F will have to be finally written off.
According to USNI News, the project is under discussion with representatives of the aviation industry. Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman will be the likely bidders. It should be borne in mind that in the near future only the first corporation will not be engaged in a large multi-year defense contract, which can play into its hands when choosing an executor for NGAD.
Little is known about additional details on the promising program. This will definitely not be the modernization of existing aircraft, since in the fourth decade of the 21st century, a promising platform with a “zeroed” margin will already be required for further development. Among other things, the F / A-XX is likely to be a two-seater (or have such a modification) to expand the ability to work with a large number of unmanned slave aircraft [for example, based on Loyal Wingman, currently being tested in Australia].
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