The US Air Force (USAF) has created a new office to help with the development of advanced fighter technologies.
“The new office was created to transform the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program into the Air Force’s Digital Century Series initiative, using digital engineering, modular open systems architecture and Agile software development to design advanced airplanes faster and enter production with a significantly lower learning curve,” says the USAF.
“The Digital Century Series aims to improve the speed and flexibility with which aircraft can be fielded by using all-digital design and manufacturing technologies and will not alter the warfighting technologies pursued in NGAD.”
The “Century Series” reference harks back to the 1950s when the US developed a series of fighters such as the North American F-100, McDonnell F-101, Convair F-102, and Lockheed F-104 in a relatively short period of time, pushing the envelope of technology. This is a contrast with existing programmes, which can run for years yet produce just one aircraft.
The new Program Executive Office (PEO) will be led by Col. Dale White, who has experience in the development and acquisition of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms, along with other roles. He was also involved in the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider programme.
“I am turning to this program, and to Dale in particular, to find a way to bring the best technical expertise that we have to bear, to understand industry’s business case – because if it’s not good for industry, it’s not going to happen – to see if there’s a way we can continue innovating, doing things smaller, faster, more agile where you don’t have to necessarily be a company that can build a thousand things to work with us,” said Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics.
“I have the utmost confidence that if there’s a ‘yes’ to be found in this universe (White) will find it.”