Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said the service branch is “not all that far away” when it comes to the final downselect process for the sixth-generation fighter aircraft as part of the Next-Generation Air Dominance program, Breaking Defense reported Sunday.
“It’s not imminent but it’s not all that far away,” Kendall, a three-time Wash100 Award winner, told the publication in an exclusive interview at an event in London.
In addition to the manned fighter platform, NGAD has two other components and these are the set of drones and the AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile.
Kendall said each of the NGAD elements will have separate acquisition initiatives and that there will be no single prime in the program’s “systems integrator.”
“The overarching integrator will probably be the government, with probably some industry help,” he said. “The NGAD platform itself will have a traditional prime [contractor].”
In June, Kendall said that engineering and manufacturing development efforts were underway for the NGAD program and that the service plans to deploy the fighter jet and associated systems by the end of 2030.
Although Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin have emerged as possible candidates to build the next-gen fighter jet, the service has yet to disclose the companies participating in the NGAD competition.