The U.S. Air Force is testing a new fighter jet prototype designed and built under its Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program. The mystery aircraft has already been flown, although it has not been made public how many prototypes have been built or how much flight time the design has accrued. Details about the fighter’s potential performance and capabilities are also being kept classified.
“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 told Defense News. “We are ready to go and build the next-generation aircraft in a way that has never happened before.”
It has been reported that the demonstrator was engineered and tested digitally before the physical prototype was constructed, allowing the design to take flight much more quickly than seen with previous fighter programs. NGAD funding for fiscal year 2021 comes in at around $1 billion. How a sixth-generation fighter program might affect fifth-generation jets like the F-35 is not yet clear.