The DAF released a classified solicitation to industry for an engineering and manufacturing development contract for the NGAD Platform with the intent to award a contract in 2024.

The Department of the Air Force (DAF) released a classified solicitation to industry for an engineering and manufacturing development contract for the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) Platform with the intent to award a contract in 2024.

“The NGAD Platform is a vital element of the Air Dominance family of systems which represents a generational leap in technology over the F-22, which it will replace,” said Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. “NGAD will include attributes such as enhanced lethality and the ability to survive, persist, interoperate, and adapt in the air domain, all within highly contested operational environments. No one does this better than the U.S. Air Force, but we will lose that edge if we don’t move forward now.”

According to a Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs news release, this solicitation release formally begins the source selection process providing industry with the requirements the DAF expects for NGAD, as the future replacement of the F-22 Raptor.

The NGAD acquisition strategy will invigorate and broaden the industrial base to deliver rapid and innovative warfighting capabilities.

USAF releases Classified Solicitation where it Starts Process for Selecting the Contractor for NGAD to Replace the F-22 Raptor
Northrop Grumman’s NGAD concept.

The strategy incorporates lessons learned from recent Air Force acquisition programs and will leverage open architecture standards. This approach will enable the government to maximize competition throughout the life cycle, provide a larger, more responsive industry base and drastically reduce maintenance and sustainment costs.

The NGAD Platform is one of many critical combat capabilities that will enable counter-air missions with the ability to strike both airborne and ground-based threats to achieve air superiority and support the Joint Force.

Further information on the NGAD Platform’s technical and programmatic details are classified to protect operational and technological advantages.

The Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program is not part of this NGAD Platform source selection.

As already reported, on Mar. 7 Kendall said in his keynote address at the Air Force Association (AFA) Warfare Symposium that the USAF will field 200 NGAD aircraft and notionally 1,000 CCAs.

Kendall said that the next generation of air dominance will include both the Next-Generation Air Dominance fighter platform “and the introduction of uncrewed collaborative aircraft to provide affordable mass and dramatically increased cost effectiveness.”

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Kendall explained that the “notional” 1,000 CCA figure was derived from “an assumed two CCAs for 200 NGAD platforms, and an additional two for each of 300 F-35s.”

He cautioned that “this isn’t an inventory objective, but a planning assumption to use for analysis of things such as basic organizational structures, training and range requirements, and sustainment concepts.”

Exactly how many NGAD platforms the USAF is planning to buy has been a closely-held secret, and even if it is “notional,” the 200 figure is revealing in that it is greater than the current inventory of F-22 Raptor fighter jets which the NGAD will eventually succeed circa 2030.

As many as five CCAs could collaborate with each crewed fighter and the process of introducing them will be iterative, Kendall previously explained.

As reported by Air & Space Forces Magazine, CCAs will perform missions in electronic warfare, suppression of enemy air defenses, air and ground protection, and communications.

Photo credit: Northrop Grumman

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