The Air Force has officially launched its competition for defense contractors to develop a sixth-generation Next Generation Air Dominance fighter jet that will eventually replace the F-22 Raptor in its fleet, the service announced on Thursday. 

Air Force officials released a classified solicitation to members of the U.S. defense industrial base detailing requirements for the proposed next-generation fighter, the details of which are classified “to protect operational and technological advantages,” according to the service. 

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,” Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall said in a statement. “No one does this better than the U.S. Air Force, but we will lose that edge if we don’t move forward now.” 

The aircraft would eventually perform counter-air missions “with the ability to strike both airborne and ground-based threats to achieve air superiority and support the Joint Force,” according to the release.

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