Next Generation Air Dominance

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An early design concept of the Boeing F/A-XX.

Next Generation Air Dominance, previously called F/A-XX, is a development and acquisition program for a future sixth-generation air superiority fighter to replace the United States Navy's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet beginning in 2025. A requirement was first identified in June 2008.[1]


In April 2012, the Navy issued a formal request for information for the F/A-XX. It calls for an air superiority fighter with multi-role capabilities to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft in the 2030s, while complementing the F-35C Lightning II and UCLASS unmanned aircraft, that can operate in anti-access/area-denial environments. The aircraft must be capable of operating from Navy Nimitz-class and Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers. Primary missions include air combat, ground attack, surface warfare, and close air support. Other missions can include air-to-air refueling, reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA), and electronic attack. There is consideration for manned, unmanned, and optionally manned platforms.[2]

The F/A-XX is being pursued as F/A-18 Super Hornets will reach the end of their 9,000 hours of service life by the early 2030s. Aside from the option of buying more F-35Cs, the F/A-XX is seeking to create a new aircraft to replace the Super Hornet's capability and mission set. An open architecture design is desired, so different sensors, payloads, and weapons can be plugged in for a specific mission, and be able to be moved around for multiple different missions on different days or different sorties. Building everything into one plane can become expensive. The resulting open architecture design is likely to take shape depending on which style of new propulsion system is presented by the aircraft industry. Unmanned, manned, and optionally manned systems are being considered. An Analysis of Alternatives (AOA) is expected to begin in 2014, with a fighter to be introduced around 2030. Just as the F-35C will replace aging F/A-18 Hornets and complement Super Hornets, the F/A-XX will replace aging Super Hornets in the 2030s and complement the F-35C.[3]


The Boeing F/A-XX concept design as of 2013.

In July 2009, Boeing unveiled a sixth-generation fighter concept the F/A-XX requirement. It was a two-seat, twin-engined tailless jet with a blended wing. Although it has a tandem cockpit, Boeing said it can be manned or unmanned depending on the mission. The fighter concept is in the 40,000 lb (18,000 kg) weight class. The Northrop Grumman X-47B that was chosen for the UCAS-D program has also been proposed for the F/A-XX effort.[1][4]

In a 31 May 2011 disclosure to Congress, the Department of Defense revealed that they were considering buying more F-35C fighters to replace 556 Super Hornets. The DOD plans to replace the older F/A-18C/D Hornets with 220 Lightning IIs. In March 2011, a Navy analysis of alternatives showed that they may buy more F-35C aircraft, develop a new platform, or do both for their NGAD fighter program.[5]

Boeing unveiled an updated F/A-XX sixth-generation fighter concept in April 2013. The concept is a tailless twin-engine stealth fighter available in manned and unmanned configurations. It has canards, which usually compromises the frontal radar cross-section, but the lack of a tail shows an emphasis on all-aspect stealth. It also has diverterless supersonic inlets similar to the F-35. The manned version seems to have restricted rearward visibility without the aid of a sensor.[6]


  1. ^ a b Trimble, Stephen (2010-5), "Boeing plots return to next-generation fighter market", The Dewline, Flight Global 
  2. ^ Majumdar, Dave. "US Navy issues F/A-XX RfI." Flight Global. April 17, 2012.
  3. ^ USN, Industry Seek New Concepts For 6th-generation Fighter -, 10 July 2013
  4. ^ Boeing displays manned F/A-XX concept jet, Flight Global, 2009-07-09 
  5. ^ Lockheed F-35C emerges as candidate for future US Navy contract -, 2 June 2011
  6. ^ Boeing unveils updated F/A-XX sixth-gen fighter concept -, 8 April 2013