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The Navy Kicks off the Search for Its Next Fighter

by John Reed on April 16, 2012

Speaking of F/A-XX, the Navy’s planned 6th generation fighter that will replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, below you’ll find the Navy’s brand new Request for Information on the aircraft. By Brand new, I mean it just dropped on Friday.

Whatever jet is selected will hopefully replace the Super Hornets around 2030, said Rear Adm. Donald Gaddis this afternoon at the Navy League’s annual Sea, Air, Space conference in National Harbor, Md. Before the Navy can settle on the final capabilities such a plane will have, it needs to know what types of technology the defense  industry can bring to the table for a brand new fighter that will be fielded in less than two decades, said Gaddis. The new jet must be able to survive in anti-access environment, have next-gen sensors and maybe even the ability to ‘buddy’ refuel other fighters and perform airborne early warning (AEW) duties, according to Gaddis.

Here’s what the actual RfI says the service wants in the new jet:

The intent of this research is to solicit Industry inputs on candidate solutions for CVN based aircraft to provide multi-role capability in an A2AD operational environment. Primary missions include, but are not limited to, air warfare (AW), strike warfare (STW), surface warfare (SUW), and close air support (CAS). Also consider the ability of your concept to provide other capabilities currently provided by strike fighter aircraft, such as organic air-to-air refueling (AAR), Tactical Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (RSTA), and airborne electronic attack (AEA). The trade space refinement activity will characterize a broad tradespace, to include unmanned, optionally manned and manned aircraft. System attributes and system capabilities will be considered in the context of cost and affordability. Concepts that are derived from legacy aircraft, “clean sheet” new design aircraft, as well as innovative technology concepts specifically tailored for the operational context are all relevant. Please provide a separate white paper for each technology concept or family of related and complementary technology concepts; multiple white papers may be provided.

In any case, the Navy’s going to be studying the available technologies to build the Super Hornet replacement — that may well still be manned — for years since it will have such a big impact on the makeup of the 21st Century carrier air wing, according to Gaddis.

Click through the jump for the RfI.

Navy FA-XX_RFI[1]

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