BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:00 P.M.) – A few days ago, the U.S. Air Force unveiled a new military fighter jet that successfully bypassed design, manufacturing and covert testing processes.
America secretly tested the prototype of the new fighter, which, according to American media, is still “kept secret, and no one knows detailed information about it.”
The Popular Mechanics publication said that the fighter had already flown, breaking new records during tests.
— Defense News (@defense_news) September 15, 2020
The newspaper noted that the U.S. Air Force must now think about how to purchase the new fighter in its constant pursuit of modern weapons, ICBMs and new bombers.
On Tuesday, U.S. Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper said in an exclusive interview with Defense News, which coincided with the U.S. Air Force’s Aviation and Virtual Space Conference, that the Air Force is building the new fighter as part of the Next Generation Air Domination Program (NGAD).
In June, the Pentagon finalized plans for a “Digital Century Series” program that would introduce a new aircraft every five years, each of which would fit into a larger “family of systems.” The idea is derived from a slew of fighter jets adopted by the Air Force in the 1950s and 1960s beginning with the F-100 Super Sabre, that was called the “Century Series.”
None was ever elevated to being the Air Force’s sole or primary interceptor or attack aircraft, but each worked with several other aircraft with varying roles in the same skies.
U.S. Tactical Air Command fighters of the 1950s, comprising five of the six jets in the “Century Series.” Clockwise from bottom: Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, North American F-100 Super Sabre, Convair F-102 Delta Dagger, McDonnell F-101 Voodoo and Republic F-105 Thunderchief.
Each of the Century Series jets pioneered one or two new technologies, which is one reason they were developed so quickly. The F-100 Super Sabre, for example, was the Air Force’s first fighter capable of breaking the sound barrier in level flight and took just 2.5 years to develop.
By comparison, the Lockheed Martin X-35 tester took seven years to proceed from idea to flying aircraft, including a slew of new and unproven technologies. It then took another five years to become the F-35A, then another 10 years before it actually entered US Air Force service in 2016.
On the other hand, each of the Century Series jets had its shortcomings, too. The F-100, for example, had a nasty problem of crashing just before landing because designers had not included any stabilizing “wing fences” on the aircraft.
“All the Century aircraft weren’t successful,” Roper told Breaking Defense in April 2019, “but enough were.”
The end result was that, by the late 1960s, the Air Force had solidified the technologies new to the 1950s and rapidly advanced them, making it possible to create powerful aircraft like the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon, which are still in use today.
It’s unclear if the demonstrator mentioned by Roper is just a concept aircraft or actually intended to be the first of the Digital Century Series jets, the Drive pointed out, noting a new US fighter prototype hasn’t debuted in 20 years, since the Boeing X-32 and Lockheed Martin X-35 flew in 2000.
Sources: Sputnik, Defense News, Breaking Defense