The U.S. Air Force said on May 18 that it has released a classified solicitation in expectation of an Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) award for the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) manned fighter next year.

“The NGAD platform is a vital element of the air dominance family of systems which represents a generational leap in technology over the F-22, which it will replace,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in a service statement. “NGAD will include attributes such as enhanced lethality and the ability to survive, persist, interoperate, and adapt in the air domain, all within highly contested operational environments. No one does this better than the U.S. Air Force, but we will lose that edge if we don’t move forward now.”

Lockheed Martin

[LMT] builds the F-22 Raptor and the F-35.

“This solicitation release formally begins the source selection process providing industry with the requirements the DAF [Department of the Air Force] expects for NGAD, as the future replacement of the F-22 Raptor,” the Air Force said. “The NGAD acquisition strategy will invigorate and broaden the industrial base to deliver rapid and innovative warfighting capabilities. The strategy incorporates lessons learned from recent Air Force acquisition programs and will leverage open architecture standards. This approach will enable the government to maximize competition throughout the life cycle, provide a larger, more responsive industry base and drastically reduce maintenance and sustainment costs. ”

Air Force plans call for 1,000 Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCAs) to be employed by 200 NGAD manned fighters and 300 F-35As, but the Air Force said on May 18 that CCA is not part of its just announced NGAD source selection for next year’s EMD contract.

The Air Force’s $2.3 billion fiscal 2024 request for NGAD includes $392 million associated with CCA–figures that indicate that almost 17 percent of the NGAD fiscal 2024 request is for CCA (Defense Daily, March 14).