SAN DIEGO — The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) head said he does not expect the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) aircraft to take as long as the multi-decade F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Here at the 2020 annual AFCEA West conference on Tuesday NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm. G. Dean Peters was asked if the NGAD will take decades to develop and produce like F-35 did, whose origin dates back to the 1990s.

“So will it take as long as the F-35? I don’t think so. And because I just don’t think we can afford to take that long anymore. But we’re looking at right now, mid-2030s,” Peters said.

“F-35 is an amazing capability and it did take a long time to develop and in some ways we’re still refining that design and it is a tremendous platform that is going to fly for many years,” he added.

In contrast, Peters underscored NGAD “is already underway. We’ve completed an analysis of alternatives for that platform. And depending on the platform itself, I think, will determine the timeline. We’re still looking at the 2030s or that timeframe.”

Peters noted some of the timeline is budget-dependent “but, again, some of it is really the approach that’s taking. But we haven’t started in earnest on the program yet.”

The Navy’s FY 2021 budget request ends production for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet after FY ’21 and redirects $4.5 billion in spending to the NGAD work (Defense Daily, Feb. 13).

The budget documents said the planned Super Hornet production will keep up with Navy’s carrier air wing needs through the 2030s.

The Navy has been reluctant to say what capabilities NGAD may have but has mentioned incorporating longer ranges, propulsion, high speed, stealth, artificial intelligence, and unmanned systems.