The sixth-generation fighter jet in the United States Air Force might cost hundreds of millions of dollars per plane, according to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall. According to the Air Force Mag, the plane is expected to cost the entire world around the world.
The F-22 Raptor from the United States was the first fifth-generation fighter aircraft to be used in the United States. However, other countries, such as Russia, the United Kingdom, and Japan, have revealed more about their designs, if not program advancements, than the United States. The Secretary of State spoke during a committee hearing on the fiscal budget for 2023 provided some information.
Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) Program
The NGAD program will feature a sixth-generation fighter, which is expected to replace the older F-22s. While the F-22s will last for more than a decade, the NGAD will include a slew of capabilities that haven''t been seen before.
Key technologies such as propulsion, stealth, advanced weapons, and thermal management of aircraft signature are all expected to make significant improvements in this aircraft. Some argue that the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) may be a feature of the next-generation aircraft.
The NGAD is also being labeled as a "family of systems" that could see a lot of unmanned aircraft equipped with a wide spectrum of sensors and payloads being deployed alongside the manned aircraft. In high-risk situations, the unmanned aircraft would be designated to carry out missions, keeping the aircraft and its pilot out of harm''s way.
How much would it cost?
The F-22s were the most expensive aircraft the United States Air Force developed, while the F-35s were priced at $80 million per tail. However, the service costs of the F-35s have increased dramatically, thereby increasing the program''s lifespan.
The United States Air Force is aware of this development and is taking great care to avoid a repeat of such a scenario with the NGAD. Kendall told Congress that the Air Force was paying close attention during the aircraft''s development to ensure that while the initial manufacturing expenses were high, the upgrades and maintenance could be accomplished in a cost-effective manner.
Kendall stated that the unmanned components of the NGAD would be comparatively cheaper to produce, and that while these aircraft would be attributable to risky tasks, they would not be costly enough to be used during these operations. In an interview, Kendall stated that the Air Force did not have a "hard estimate" yet.