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    Lockheed Martin and Boeing Compete for Air Force’s Next-Generation Contract in 2024 Fighter Jet Showdown

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    Lockheed Martin and Boeing are poised for a head-to-head competition as the service prepares to award the contract for the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) platform. The NGAD is envisioned as a family of systems comprising a crewed sixth-generation fighter aircraft, drone wingmen also referred to as Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA), advanced sensor capabilities, and superior network connectivity to satellites and other assets.

    The classified solicitation for NGAD’s engineering and manufacturing development contract was initiated in May 2023, signaling the formal commencement of the selection process. As a futuristic endeavor intended to replace the venerable F-22 Raptor, the Air Force aims for the NGAD to be operational by the decade’s end. Emphasizing on open-architecture standards, the NGAD is designed to exploit competitive dynamics over its life cycle and curtail maintenance and support expenditures.

    Leeuwarden Netherlands Oct. 4 2021 Weapon Instructor Course F-35 Lightning II landing

    The NGAD program’s intricate details have been tightly guarded due to security concerns. Notably, in a significant industry shift, Northrop Grumman withdrew from the NGAD competition in 2023, focusing instead on the Navy’s variant, dubbed the F/A-XX. Northrop’s CEO, Kathy Warden, indicated the company’s strategy in a July earnings call. Consequently, the Air Force’s procurement path is projected to see Lockheed Martin and Boeing as the main contenders.

    The NGAD’s propulsion technology, referred to as Next Generation Adaptive Propulsion (NGAP), is another focal area with the Air Force planning a substantial budgetary injection in 2024. NGAP, with its adaptive capabilities, is positioned to transition rapidly to the optimal engine configuration for varied flight conditions. Featuring advanced composites capable of enduring high temperatures, NGAP draws on research initially considered for the F-35. The substantial investment increase in NGAP, to the tune of $595 million requested for the fiscal year 2024, underscores its centrality to NGAD’s performance.

    U.S. Air Force forward area refueling point (FARP) specialists assigned to the 26th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron provide fuel to an MQ-9 Reaper from a HC-130J Combat King II aircraft, enabling a rapid, combat turnaround and launch at an undisclosed location within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, Dec. 11, 2022. FARP specialists provide a unique refueling capability, extending the reach and combat effectiveness, while reducing turnaround times for a variety of aircraft in austere locations across the CENTCOM AOR. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Daniel Asselta)

    In parallel, Pratt & Whitney, an RTX subsidiary, has achieved a milestone with the Air Force’s critical design review for its NGAD engine. The prototypical XA103 engine is on track for ground testing in the late 2020s, showcasing Pratt & Whitney’s commitment to advancing sixth-generation propulsion. The propulsion innovation entailed in NGAD reflects a broader trend toward maintaining air superiority and ensuring the U.S. maintains its competitive edge in aerospace and defense technology.

    related images you might be interested.

    OVER THE ATLANTIC OCEAN — An F-15 Eagle banks left while an F/A-22 Raptor flies in formation en route to a training area off the coastline of Virginia on April 5. The 27th Fighter Squadron is performing regular operations with two Raptors on loan from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. The first Langley Air Force Base, Va., F-22 is due to arrive within the next month. The F-15 is assigned to the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ben Bloker)
    Three F-22 fighter jets with supersonic twin-engines cruise over the cloud layer on their mission.
    Pictured on day one (on Friday 8th July) of the 2016 Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, the largest military airshow in the world.
    NEW WINDSOR, NY – JULY 2, 2017: The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II from Stewart International Airport during the New York Airshow.
    Boeing Manufacturing Facility and Logo
    Boeing Manufacturing Facility and Logo
    Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor’s” by aeroman3 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

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