U.S. Navy has released new details about the F/A-XX Next Generation Strike Fighter that will replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in the 2030s.
The U.S. Navy published the unclassified version of the “Navy Aviation Vision 2030-2035”. According to the U.S. Navy
The CVW of the 2030s achieves a complementary mix of F-35C Lightning II, F/A-18E/F Block III Super Hornet, and next-generation strike fighter (F/A-XX), with the F/A-18E/F Block III providing the backbone of the CVW through 2035. F/A-18E/F Block III with reduced signature, Infrared Search and Track (IRST) Block II, and increased computing, working in tandem with the capabilities provided by the F-35C and E-2D, will make the entire CSG more lethal and survivable.
The F-35C of 2030 and beyond will serve as an invaluable force multiplier for the CSG. The F-35C’s stealth and passive detection capabilities will allow the platform to gain critical intelligence and share throughout the CSG, significantly aiding the kill chain. Additionally, in the maritime domain, the Block IV F-35C will be the Navy’s strike platform of choice with Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) C1, Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM ER), and Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) II incorporated.
During Fighter Integration (FI) events with the F/A-18E/F Block III the F-35C will allow the F/A-18E/F Block III to be a more survivable and lethal platform leveraging the F-35C’s stealth and passive detection abilities to shape the overall air picture.
The F/A-XX is the strike fighter component within the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) Family of Systems (FoS). It is planned to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in the 2030s. Its specific capabilities and technologies are under development, however, analysis shows it must have a longer range and greater speed, incorporate passive and active
sensor technology, and possess the capability to employ the longer-range weapons programmed for the future.
As the Super Hornets are retired from service, a combination of F-35C and F/A-XX will provide Navy tactical fighter aircraft capability and capacity within the CVW. The advanced carrier-based power projection capabilities resident in F/AXX will maintain CVN relevance in advanced threat environments.
The EA-18G Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) will provide the bulk of the full-spectrum integrated non-kinetic effects for the air wing and joint expeditionary force. The EA-18G will employ Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) and other Non-Kinetic Effects (NKE). The F-35C and its emerging capabilities will complement and augment the EA-18G.
Along with organic tanking, the MQ-25 will pave the way for unmanned air vehicles on the carrier and manned and unmanned teaming (MUM-T) to extend strike range and enhance maneuverability. As unmanned tanking capacity delivers, the manned tanker requirement decreases, making additional service life and capacity available for strike fighter missions. Continued development of MUM-T will enable information sharing across a distributed force, increasing survivability, reducing risk to manned aircraft, and ensuring weapons capacity.
Future unmanned air vehicles with survivable planforms, sensors, and robust autonomy will find, fix, identify, track, engage, and assess the land, sea, and air targets.
The NGAD FoS will include unmanned platforms with F/A-XX as the quarterback. These manned and unmanned aircraft plus attributable assets will be employed across domains to enable integrated kinetic and non-kinetic fires at tactically relevant ranges. As autonomy and ML efforts mature, the appropriate mix of F/A-XX, manned and unmanned platforms will be evaluated to ensure the most lethal and affordable CVW possible.