Which Upcoming Fighter will replace F-22 Raptor
The F-22 will be replaced by a fighter that has yet to be officially named or a designation but is being developed as part of the US Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) programme.
With the NGAD programme, the US Air Force plans to develop both manned and unmanned systems.
While little is known about the aircraft’s design, we do know that at least one of them (most likely the manned / optionally-manned aircraft) will have a very high range and great stealth, allowing it to accomplish things like escort B-21 bombers past the world’s most modern air defences. We also know that in 2025, a manned, full-scale NGAD demonstrator flew, perhaps operating as a YF-22 or X-35 equivalent to the F-22 / F-35.
The manned NGAD will likely have less manoeuvrability than the F-22 in terms of kinematics other than range but may have the superior speed to the already extremely fast F-22.
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The NGAD will likely have a reduced (like the BAE Tempest or FCAS NGF) or non-existent set of independent tail surfaces to reduce drag and radar signature, and it will use a pair of adaptive cycle engines that can change their bypass ratio mid-air to operate more like an airliner’s engines, or more like an interceptor’s engines. These engines are also expected to be individually as powerful, if not more powerful than the F-35’s, giving it the most thrust ever seen in a fighter.
The F-22’s weapons magazine / air-to-air weapons payload isn’t substantially different from the F-35A’s (with an impending adaptor, an F-35A will carry the same amount of AIM-120 missiles as an F-22, with the exception of the F-22’s extra 2x AIM-9X Sidewinders).
Because of its increased range and powerful engines, the NGAD could be quite large, with an additional 2–4 internal hardpoints for air-to-air weapons.
The unmanned NGAD could probably be larger in size, perhaps more in line with the X-47B that the Navy tested for its ships.