Military Review

New fighter concept for the USAF: NGAD

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New concept from a recent US Air Force report


For several years now, the Air Force and aviation US industry is working on the NGAD (Next-Generation Air Dominance) program, the goal of which is to create the next 6th generation fighter. The appearance of such a machine is still unknown, but the program participants have repeatedly published various concepts. Recently, another similar image has got into free access.

According to known data


The source of the latter News on the NGAD program became the recent biennial procurement report of the Air Department in 2019-2020. called "Building the Digital Force". This document lists all current projects, their main features, cost and deadlines. Along with other programs, the development of a promising fighter is also mentioned.

The NGAD program page contains the most general description of the prerequisites for the emergence of the project and the expected capabilities of the new aircraft. Unlike other developments, information on the timing of the work and on their cost is not provided. At the same time, a previously unpublished image of the aircraft in the air is attached to the note, demonstrating some of the design features and operational capabilities.

The authors of the report remind that the NGAD project uses promising approaches to the design and organization of production. They will help to reduce the cost and complexity of the series and operation, as well as ensure that the required level of performance is achieved and the possibility of regular upgrades.

It should be noted that similar features of the project have been disclosed earlier, and in this regard, the biennial report does not provide any new information. Thus, in the note about the NGAD program, the illustration is of greatest interest. It shows both the proposed and completely new features of the project. However, it is not known which of them will be included in the real project, and which are simply invented by the artist.

Technical solutions


The illustration shows an aircraft of an unusual type of integral layout with features of a flying wing and tailless. The machine has a swept wing, the nodules of which are connected to the nose of the fuselage. The wing consoles are trapezoidal in plan. The broken trailing edge slides under the control surfaces and nozzles. The aircraft has a pair of keels, and they are foldable - in some modes, they must lie in the corresponding niches on the wing.

In the nose of the aircraft there is a rudimentary fuselage of limited length, in which the cockpit is located, probably equipment compartments. On the sides of it are developed engine nacelles. The air intakes are brought out to the upper side of the wing and are protected from irradiation from below. Flat nozzles with lattice deflectors are made in a similar way. The aircraft has a pair of turbojet engines of an unknown type.


Lockheed Martin NGAD Concept

The possibility of carrying air-to-air missiles of the AIM-120 type is shown. The placement of weapons in the internal cargo hold is schematically indicated; it is located under the air intake duct.

Earlier, it was repeatedly stated that the NGAD aircraft will receive all the necessary networking capabilities and will be able to work as part of interspecific groups. This is confirmed by a new illustration - it conventionally shows communication with other aircraft or satellites.

The image of the aircraft from the Building the Digital Force report also demonstrates the proposed approaches to shaping and modernizing the aircraft. The "real" aircraft is supplemented with a virtual copy - it is proposed to use it for early testing and development of new solutions. Also shown are the principles of gradual replacement of various units and weapons in order to constantly increase their characteristics.

The dimensions, weight and performance characteristics of this NGAD version are difficult to estimate. Probably, an aircraft of this appearance will be no less than the modern F-22 and may have a large mass. Accordingly, an increase in the combat load and expansion of operational capabilities should be expected. However, information of this nature has not yet been announced.

Possible benefits


How much the published concept corresponds to the real plans and desires of the US Air Force is unknown. However, it is quite capable of reflecting current views on the development of tactical aviation and showing some ideas from a real project. Accordingly, it becomes possible to evaluate some of the qualities of both the concept itself and the real NGAD.

First of all, the illustration for the report shows that stealth is still the key quality of the new aircraft. The structure and contours of the aircraft are formed taking into account the reduction of the reflected signal; reduced chance of being spotted from the ground. Folding keels are an interesting solution: depending on the current needs, they can lie on the wing and reduce the RCS or rise to the working position, increasing the flight and maneuverability characteristics.

The new concept provides for the preservation of the cockpit. It can be assumed that it also implies the presence of unmanned capabilities. According to various estimates, the next 6th generation fighters should receive remote or autonomous control means. The introduction of artificial intelligence is expected.

New fighter concept for the USAF: NGAD
A variant of a promising fighter from Boeing

The NGAD program uses a new approach to the design and organization of production, and the disclosed concept fully reflects it. The aircraft becomes a modular complex with the ability to quickly develop and implement new components. This will affect both electronics and weapons, and other systems. In particular, the possibility of regular replacement of engines with newer ones is expected.

It is expected that new development methods will allow the aircraft to remain “at the forefront” at all times, but at the same time will simplify and reduce the cost of all stages of its life cycle. The time for the development and implementation of new modifications will be reduced, incl. the most difficult type of remotorization.

Illustrations and reality


Work on the NGAD topic has been going on for several years and has advanced quite far. In 2019, the Pentagon reviewed the proposed projects and initiated the next phase of development. In September 2020, it was reported that a technology demonstrator already exists and is being tested, repeating the main solutions of the main project. New work of one kind or another should take place right now, the results of which will be announced later.

The presence of a technology demonstrator indicates a fairly high degree of development of the project. Accordingly, a full-fledged fighter project should appear in the coming years, followed by the first prototype. When this will happen is not specified, however, the known pace of work execution allows us to make the most daring estimates.

A prototype may appear as early as 2023-25, and then the Pentagon will have to show it and reveal, at least, basic information and characteristics. Thanks to this, it will be possible to study and evaluate the finished NGAD, as well as compare the real appearance of the fighter with the published concepts - including the last one.
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  1. Aaron Zawi
    Aaron Zawi April 19 2021 18: 08
    +3
    Well, if this car takes off in 10 years, it will be a great achievement.
    1. Andylw
      Andylw April 20 2021 12: 41
      0
      the demonstrator has been flying since last year
    2. AC130 Gunship
      AC130 Gunship 15 June 2021 19: 07
      0
      I think it will take off earlier. Serial deliveries will begin in 10 days
  2. OgnennyiKotik
    OgnennyiKotik April 19 2021 18: 13
    +8
    The conceptual image of NGAD is most similar to the "fat" YF-23. I think the final car will be even closer to him. It is made by the Skunk Works. Folding keels are essential for advanced stealth. Keels increase lateral signature in VHF and longer wavelengths. But without them, it is impossible to conduct a maneuverable battle. This solution allows, depending on the mission, to be less noticeable or more maneuverable.
    They are also developing the 6th generation for the fleet, F / A-XX, in parallel. The requirements are about the same, only the maximum take-off weight is limited to 40 tons, the combat radius is 1400 km +, the engines are probably XA100 / 101. It is to replace the F / A-18E / F. By the way, the program itself is also called NGAD, but most likely the Air Force program is parallel and makes 2 different machines.
    1. TARS_117
      TARS_117 April 19 2021 18: 55
      0
      The Black Widow looks futuristic even nowadays. We were very fortunate to have adopted the F-22, not her.
      1. OgnennyiKotik
        OgnennyiKotik April 19 2021 18: 59
        +3
        Quote: TARS_117
        We were very fortunate to have adopted the F-22, not her.

        Oh, what's the difference? That the F-22 will be written off and not fought, that it would be written off.
        And yes, time has shown that the YF-23 concept has more room to live. But the bone of thought did not allow the generals of the Air Force to choose it, it is worse for them.
        1. TARS_117
          TARS_117 April 19 2021 19: 29
          +1
          Early from the accounts you write off the Raptor, oh early. And it wasn't about the generals either. It was just that Northrob was grungy then already on the stream of B-2 Spirit put, and giving them the F-23, meant leaving Lockheed Martin without orders.
      2. AC130 Gunship
        AC130 Gunship 15 June 2021 19: 11
        0
        What exactly are "you" lucky? They never fought head-on with Russian planes. And it seems that it is not planned yet. Shoot with an F16 missile in pursuit of a Su24 in Syria does not count
    2. NIKN
      NIKN April 19 2021 19: 06
      +2
      Quote: OgnennyiKotik
      But without them, it is impossible to conduct a maneuverable battle.

      Judge from the article
      The air intakes are brought out to the upper side of the wing and are protected from irradiation from below.
      The maneuverable VB is not very well provided for, it is difficult to ensure the normal operation of the control system at high angles of attack with such an arrangement of the air intakes. Rather, the keels still provide longitudinal stability at high speeds.
    3. lucul
      lucul April 19 2021 20: 24
      0
      Keels increase lateral signature in VHF and longer wavelengths.

      And what about the visibility of the aircraft from above (perpendicular) or from below? ))))
  3. OgnennyiKotik
    OgnennyiKotik April 19 2021 18: 19
    +2
    So far, we know about 3 competitors in the 6th generation of the air superiority fighter.

    Franco-German-Spanish NGF (FCAS)

    British-Italian-Swedish Tempest

    Japanese F-3


    They all have a more classic design, closer to the F-22. I think they will have to seriously modify the fighters.
  4. knn54
    knn54 April 19 2021 18: 26
    0
    I'm not an expert, Speed, range, yes, but stealth, I'm not sure.
    1. Jacket in stock
      Jacket in stock April 19 2021 19: 20
      +5
      Quote: knn54
      but stealth. I'm not sure.

      Previously, soldiers were dressed in bright, beautiful outfits, built in tight squares and taught to walk in formation with flags and drums.
      But with the increase in the range and accuracy of the rifles, the soldiers were dressed in khakis and forced to crawl.
      It's the same with airplanes.
      Now whoever saw whom first killed him.
      1. lucul
        lucul April 19 2021 20: 30
        -8
        It's the same with airplanes.
        Now whoever saw whom first killed him.

        So it was in the 20th century, in the 21st century stealth missiles are much more promising than an airplane. Gave target designation to the rocket and that's all - the plane is not really needed.
        1. Jacket in stock
          Jacket in stock April 20 2021 05: 03
          0
          Quote: lucul
          Stealth missiles are much more promising than airplanes. Gave target designation to the rocket and that's all - the plane is not really needed.

          That's right, first you need to issue target designation, but how to issue it if the target is not visible?
          Yes, and without an airplane, how to deliver a rocket to the launch site, well, or it itself will become the size of an airplane and cease to be stealth.
    2. ironic
      ironic April 19 2021 19: 50
      +4
      Speed ​​is mainly needed today only by interceptors. Cruising speed is more important than the maximum afterburner.
    3. Outsider
      Outsider 8 October 2021 12: 40
      0
      - Without stealth, there is not something like the 6th generation, but even the 5th does not exist.
  5. Peaceful SEO
    Peaceful SEO April 19 2021 18: 34
    +1
    This is fertile ground ... Take any computer game about the war of the future and you have concepts on it, already in 3D and even move :)
    1. Avior
      Avior April 19 2021 19: 08
      +7
      It is possible from the past

      smile
      1. Castro Ruiz
        Castro Ruiz April 19 2021 19: 35
        -1
        Ochen udachnoe krilo.
      2. Gato
        Gato April 19 2021 20: 51
        +2
        It is possible from the past

        But why be ashamed:
        1. Avior
          Avior April 19 2021 21: 01
          +2
          Yes, I was here like this :)
          https://topwar.ru/116341-horten-ho-ix-poslednyaya-vozdushnaya-nadezhda-gitlera.html
          1. Gato
            Gato April 19 2021 21: 09
            0
            Yes, uncontrollable associations. I saw the picture at the beginning of the article and for some reason immediately remembered about Horten IX
  6. Jacket in stock
    Jacket in stock April 19 2021 18: 37
    0
    Air intakes above the wing?
    I read somewhere that for some critical stages of the flight, this solution is not very successful.
    Again, they are straight, but everywhere they write that they must be s-shaped.
    1. OgnennyiKotik
      OgnennyiKotik April 19 2021 18: 47
      +2
      This is an illustration of the concept, the real car will be different. The air intakes will be like the B-2/3 or YF-23, S-shape is a prerequisite for stealth.

      1. Thrifty
        Thrifty April 19 2021 19: 00
        +1
        Fiery cat - that's it, this is a concept, this is a collection of ideas, which may not shoot due to excessive complexity and exorbitant high cost. The air intakes can be in the wing itself, flat in shape, but wider, so that there is enough incoming air flow for the engine to operate in all modes. Now we are just discussing pictures, real prototypes may not take off in five years.
  7. Prisoner
    Prisoner April 19 2021 19: 15
    +2
    "The aircraft has a pair of turbojet engines of an unknown type." (from) what My youngest loved to draw such pictures. It used to depict an airplane, and then "weight" it with various pribludes and something fantastic is obtained. It looks like someone has learned to make money on it.
  8. K-50
    K-50 April 19 2021 19: 17
    0
    The air intakes are brought out to the upper side of the wing and are protected from irradiation from below.

    Then the "pictures" don't match! request fellow lol
  9. Pavel57
    Pavel57 April 19 2021 19: 46
    0
    Quote: TARS_117
    The Black Widow looks futuristic even nowadays. We were very fortunate to have adopted the F-22, not her.

    F 23 was better, but did not pass in terms of operational parameters. Although there could have been a political decision.
    1. Outsider
      Outsider 8 October 2021 12: 55
      +1
      - The F-23 was aerodynamically better in terms of layout than the F-22, because its creators abandoned the traditional tail unit, there are no keels, - due to this, its wing area was increased to 88 m² (for F-22 - 78 mXNUMX), - this is important, this is essential, therefore, with a similar total area of ​​the washed surface it has the best aerodynamic quality, with the same engines, it has:
      - bоthe greatest cruising. speed;
      - larger ceiling;
      - bоlonger flight range;
      - the best rate of climb;
      - the best maneuverability in terms of maximum thrust.
      Naturally, when creating an aircraft of the 6th generation, all this will be taken into account, it will be even closer to the "flying wing" scheme, there will be no vertical tail in the form of keels at all, or (most likely) it will be combined with stabilizers, as on the YF-23 ...
  10. Fedorovich
    Fedorovich April 19 2021 19: 52
    +4

    grow ...
  11. Basarev
    Basarev April 19 2021 21: 10
    +1
    I suspect that when this sixth generation aircraft is released in marketable quantities, our main will still be another not so distant descendant of the Su-27 (or even the lighter MiG-29). And there will be propaganda that 4 +++++ is almost no worse than a full-fledged sixth.
    1. spectr
      spectr 26 June 2021 01: 19
      0
      Most likely, AI will play a significant role, which should replace the pilot. And when using it, "4 +++++" may be slightly inferior to the 6th generation. And the air defense system can equalize this lag.
  12. Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I April 20 2021 03: 32
    0
    Interesting movie! Regarding the placement of weapons ... it is located in the internal compartment ... but at the first second, when looking at the illustration, it "seemed" that it was on top of the glider ... I remembered that at the end of the last century, the proposal to "arrange" an external suspension of weapons on the glider was seriously considered from above! I don’t remember now what was the name of such an arrangement (maybe “superconvenient”? ...); but, for some reason, later this idea was not discussed ... why?
    1. Jacket in stock
      Jacket in stock April 20 2021 05: 07
      +1
      Quote: Nikolaevich I
      but, for some reason, later they stopped discussing this idea ... why?

      Because it's harder to shoot.
      I just threw it off from under the wing, and it flew further on its own. Yes, and the exhaust from the rocket will not damage the plane. And when placed on top, such crap gets out, which is easier to forget.
      1. Nikolaevich I
        Nikolaevich I April 20 2021 05: 27
        0
        Quote: Jacket in stock
        when placed on top, such crap comes out, which is easier to forget.

        Hemorrhoids can be treated! With the upper external "suspension", the ammunition is "fired" to the top ... and truncated!
        1. Jacket in stock
          Jacket in stock April 20 2021 05: 29
          0
          Quote: Nikolaevich I
          ammunition "shoots" to the top ... and truncated!

          And how do you see it?
          I'm not very good.
          1. Nikolaevich I
            Nikolaevich I April 20 2021 05: 54
            -1
            Quote: Jacket in stock
            And how do you see it?
            I'm not very good.

            Why do we need to present? belay "There are no fools in the Central Committee ..."! yes This technical solution was proposed by the developers of the concept ... bully
  13. GoraN
    GoraN April 20 2021 07: 46
    -1
    They draw well, I wonder how it will fly
  14. kig
    kig 4 June 2021 15: 45
    0
    The fighters are becoming more and more like the UFOs from the movie Independence Day. Looks like Hangar-12 is still working.