The US Air Force has already secretly designed, built and flown at least one prototype of a next-generation fighter to replace the long-troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a senior Pentagon official said in an interview published by Defense News on Tuesday.
“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it,” Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Will Roper said an exclusive interview conducted on Monday and published on Tuesday.
Defense News commented that Roper’s revelation was certain to shock the enormous US defense contracting community. It was the first development of any experimental combat fighter since the F-35 was first unveiled 20 years ago, the publication said.
Roper said the new aircraft’s development program broke all previous records in its speed to completion. He was speaking before the beginning of the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference.
The Air Force and its defense contractor are already prepared to go ahead start working on building new aircraft, designated the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) project. The first flight of a next generation fighter was not expected for years, Defense News added.