The U.S. Air Force has secretly designed, built and flown at least one prototype of its enigmatic next-generation fighter jet, the service’s top acquisition official confirmed.
“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it,” Will Roper said. “We are ready to go and build the next-generation aircraft in a way that has never happened before.”
Almost every detail about the aircraft itself will remain a mystery due to the classification of the Next Generation Air Dominance program. Roper declined to comment on how many prototype aircraft have been flown or which defence contractors manufactured them. He wouldn’t say when or where the first flight occurred. And he refused to divulge any aspect of the aircraft’s design — its mission, whether it was uncrewed or optionally crewed, whether it could fly at hypersonic speeds or if it has stealth characteristics. The service announced recently that any weapon made using digital concepts will have the “e-” prefix in an effort to display these innovative operations.