Concept art released by the the Air Force Research Lab in 2018 shows a potential next-generation fighter concept, or F-X. (Air Force Research Laboratory)

The US Air Force is looking to produce a new fighter that would be a radical departure from the current fleet of fighters- and it may be ready to go in less than half a decade.

Known as the Next Generation Air Dominance program (NGAD for short), the USAF is looking to bust out a series of “sample packs” of small fighter batches from different companies, not unlike the Century Series jets of olden times that became so iconic.

“Based on what industry thinks they can do and what my team will tell me, we will need to set a cadence of how fast we think we build a new airplane from scratch. Right now, my estimate is five years. I may be wrong,” said USAF Acquisition Executive Will Roper. “I’m hoping we can get faster than that  -I think that will be insufficient in the long term [to meet future threats]- but five years is so much better than where we are now with normal acquisition.”

The news is a breath of fresh air for those who were so frustrated with the excruciatingly long -and expensive- rollout process of the F-35, which first took to the skies as the X-35 in the year 2000.

The “Digital Century Series,” as it is called, would mimic the Century series, where every few years would see the rollout of new and exciting fighter aircraft.

According to Defense News, Roper believes it will keep the enemy guessing.

“How do you deal with a threat if you don’t know what the future technology is? Be the threat- always have a new airplane coming out.”

Roper notes that the task of obtaining the funding may be a challenge, but that the idea has generated a “good response” from defense committees and lawmakers.

“I think the theory is sound, it’s the funding required and how big of an industry base we can sustain,” he said. “I don’t want to leave companies out, but I also don’t want to go so big that we fail because of funding, not because of the soundness of the idea.”

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