• US Next-Generation Air Dominance: Transformational Strategies Unveil New Growth Avenues
    Digital engineering, modular systems, and hypersonic and directed-weapon technologies will give the air force the tools it needs to win on a new type of battlefield

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    This study provides insights about the state of the US Air Force-managed Next Generation Air Defense (NGAD) program, which is a proposed family of air platforms that would include a 6th-generation fighter, wingman drones capable of combat autonomy, and support drones that can carry a combination of fuel, ammunition, and sensors. One of the more disruptive capabilities would be to fight at “machine speed” thanks to the Internet of Military Things. War at machine speed (searching, identifying, targeting, and destroying automatically) would accelerate and overwhelm the enemy’s decision-making capabilities.

    On Sept. 15, 2020, then USAF acquisition chief Will Roper announced that the service had flown a full-scale flight demonstrator as part of the NGAD program. On May 14, 2021, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Integration, and Requirements Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote stated that a second demonstrator might be in some stage of production now.

    Roper also introduced a new defense concept that he called “the digital trinity,” saying that it is the true successor to stealth technology and the biggest paradigm shift for military technology dominance. The study looks at the concept in more detail.


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