United States is currently working on two Sixth generation Fighter jets program
- Boeing F/A-XX Program: F/A-XX is a development and acquisition program for a future sixth-generation air superiority fighter to replace the United States Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet beginning in the late-2020s. This USN program has also been referred to at different times as NGAD, or the: Next Generation Air Dominance program.
- F-X Program: F-X, also known as Penetrating Counter Air or Next-Generation Air Dominance. The Air Force hasn’t chosen a manufacturer or design for its F-X sixth-generation fighter. However, US Air Force Research Laboratory recently released a video shows a conceptual design of an F-X sixth-generation fighter jet and other futuristic technology. The AFRL video shows a sleek, stealthy design with a laser powerful enough to destroy an enemy fighter.
According to the Congressional Budget Office states a new study the U.S. Air Force F-X Program or Penetrating Counter Air Programcould cost about $300 million in 2018 dollars per plane,
At that price, PCA would be more than three times that of the average F-35A jet, which is set at about $94 million to capture both the expense of early production lots and the decline in cost as the production rate increases, according the report, which predicts the cost of replacing the Air Force’s aircraft inventory from now until 2050.
Related Link: List of All the new Sixth-Generation Fighter jet
This sum, while not an official cost estimate from the Pentagon, represents the first time a government entity has weighed in on the potential price tag for PCA.
The CBO estimates the Air Force will need 414 PCA aircraft to replace existing F-15C/Ds and F-22s, the Air Force’s current fighters geared toward air-to-air combat. It also surmises that the first aircraft will enter service in 2030, based on the service’s stated desire to begin fielding PCA around that time frame.
“The PCA aircraft would probably have a greater range and payload, as well as improved stealth and sensor capabilities, than today’s F-22; those characteristics would help it operate in the presence of the high-end air defenses that DoD believes China, Russia, and other potential adversaries may have in the future,” the CBO states.
The Air Force doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to producing stealth aircraft at the low costs initially envisioned by leadership. Both the B-2 and F-22 programs were truncated in part due to the high price per plane — which in turn contributed to the production rate never accelerating to the point where unit costs begin to decrease. The early years of the F-35 program were also marred by a series of cost overruns that eventually prompted the Pentagon to restructure it.
“Containing costs for the PCA aircraft may be similarly difficult,” the report states.
According to the CBO’s analysis, Air Force procurement of new aircraft could peak at about $26 billion in 2033, as the service buys both the F-35 and PCA. Those two fighters, together with the B-21 bomber, are set to be the largest drivers of cost as procurement reaches its height in the mid-2030s.
“Although the Air Force could probably modify both retirement plans and replacement schedules to smooth out the 2033 peak, the average annual costs of procuring new aircraft would still be higher than in the recent past: $15 billion in the 2020s, $23 billion in the 2030s, and $15 billion in the 2040s,” the report states.
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