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The Air Force is making progress with its sixth-generation aircraft initiative, called Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD). It had been largely conceptual for years, but Air Force officials now say current “prototyping” and “demonstrations” are informing which technologies the service will invest in for the future.

Senior Air Force officials have said that an analysis of alternatives has been completed and that work on requirements is underway. Work includes various modeling and efforts to explore crucial hardware and software technologies. 

Digital engineering continues to be a significant element of the current progress, as explained last year by Air Force Acquisition Executive William Roper. As he explains it, it brings what could be called a two-fold advantage. It enables weapons developers to assess technologies, material configurations, and aircraft models without needing to build all of them—all while paradoxically enabling builders to “bend metal” and start building prototypes earlier than would otherwise be possible.

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Category: Science