The US Air Force is setting out a radical new acquisition strategy for its Next Generation Air Dominance fighter — but what will it look like?

The Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, issued this image of a possible configuration for a future fighter. AFRL

DR WILL ROPER, the assistant secretary of the US Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, has confirmed that the service’s next fighter program, known as NGAD (Next Generation Air Dominance), will be developed and acquired using a new strategy that is intended to produce relatively small numbers of aircraft in a record-breaking timescale. This strategy has been compared with the process used in the late 1950s, which saw the rapid development and deployment of six new fighter types (the so-called ‘Century Series’) from five different manufacturers in the space of just five years — most of them went from first flight to operational service in less than three years.

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