The development of the US Next Stealth Fighter is making waves with estimated costs soaring as high as $300 million per airframe.
Decoding NGAD Fighter: Technologies and Costs
According to the report published by The National Interest, in October 01, 2023, the development of the US Next Stealth Fighter is raising eyebrows with cost estimates as high as $300 million per airframe. While this US Next Stealth Fighter price may shock some, it’s essential to look beyond the sticker shock. Comparing it to the F-35 Lightning II, the current most expensive military program in history at $1.7 trillion over its service life, makes the US Next Stealth Fighter appear to be a potential bargain. It explores and dives into the factors that justify the price and the unique features of the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program.
The Next Generation Air Dominance program initially focused on advancing aviation technologies such as the US Next Stealth Fighter. These included propulsion, uncrewed systems, materials, and sensors. Propulsion developments promise more power and efficiency, while AI-enabled drone wingmen extend combat capabilities. Materials advancements enhance stealth and performance, and advanced sensors follow the F-35’s methodology for long-range engagement.
While the US Next Stealth Fighter’s per-unit cost is yet to be determined, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall hints at “multiple hundreds of millions of dollars.” It provides insights into the program’s technological innovations and budget considerations.
NGAD: A Paradigm Shift in Air Superiority
In a news released by Sandboxx, the NGAD program signifies a paradigm shift in air superiority. Unlike previous fighters like the F-22 or F-14, NGAD US Next Stealth Fighter is designed to operate alongside AI-enabled drone wingmen. These drones perform complex tasks, extending the NGAD’s sensor range, payload capacity, and survivability. Notably, they allow one crewed NGAD fighter to replace entire formations of older generation jets, reducing the need for a one-to-one replacement ratio. It explores how this approach redefines air combat strategy and its implications for older fighter aircraft like the F-15 and F-22.
In the quest for air superiority, the US military aims to avoid the costly mistakes made during the F-35 program. US Next Stealth Fighter analyzes how the Air Force is reshaping fighter contracts, emphasizing competition, and securing data rights to prevent excessive costs. While the NGAD program may still incur significant expenses, it demonstrates a commitment to responsible budget management. The F-35’s acquisition challenges serve as a cautionary tale, highlighting the importance of cost-consciousness in developing the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft.