I think people are looking at this NGAD demonstrator a little differently than they should. Technology demonstrators are used to reduce risk and prove various technologies so that they can be incorporated into an operational system down the line. This can include everything 1/X
from sensor systems to propulsion systems to aerodynamic shaping and production methods. Often times, multiple aspects can be rolled into a single demonstrator. We have examples of this, like Have Blue, Tacit Blue, Bird of Prey etc but the reality is that far far more...
Technology demonstrators have existed than we really can imagine. They are built for limited flight time and in some cases in a rapid iteration series. There are dozens of highly classified programs ongoing out A51 and elsewhere at any given time, some do not involve...
Full up unitary test articles/demonstrators, some do. For the few that have been declassified, there are many many more we will probably never know about, some of which are buried in unmarked graves out there. This has been the process for over half a century so...
imagine how fast we can iterate test articles and demonstrators now with modern manufacturing and rapid prototyping. Some of the methods in doing so are closely guarded secrets themselves. Large span composite structures and digital design reduce time and cost in doing so...
Considering the strategic challenges that lay ahead of us, and the fact that the future of air combat will cooperative, leveraging advanced networks and intertwined families of systems, not just a new do all missions/carry all sensors super fighters, it is only logical that...
These new concepts of thinking have been iterated in demonstrators and test articles. In fact, this is the way of the future, not just spending years designing and building a YF anything and then putting into production years later...
What would be far more troubling and surprising is if there was no demonstrator flying, or demonstrator for some of the technologies and concepts behind what will be a family of new air combat systems. We should expect far more demonstrators and test articles now than ever...
And even ones that have existed before the NGAD program came to be could be re-roled to support testing of aspects of that program. As far as I understand it, this type of 'recycling' is not rare. That being said, could a more mature demonstrator...
of a tailess, supercruising, long-range quasi-'fighter' (in name only, like the B-21 is 'bomber') be flying? Yes. That is possible. But it is unlikely to be a prototype as some have called it and other articles likely support other aspects of the program...
... Including for one airframe that will makeup NGAD. Even parts of the B-21 program could have worked to reduce risk for NGAD. So, the bottom line, there is a ton of this happening. We don't see it so it seems new. With modern manufacturing capabilities that should only
accelerate, using rapid iterations of test articles to define requirements and then move to a more complex technology demonstrator. The F-35 saga has taught everyone that the old way of doing things will not work fiscally or strategically. So adopting a Skunk Works model...
for development of these new aircraft is only logical. Even testbed aircraft that would support these programs will likely be less highly modified and costly aircraft, instead their testing functions spread across more platforms. So, the bottom line, if the USAF wasn't testing...
its hunches and different aspects to support new technologies surrounding air dominance with flying demonstrators, that would be highly troubling. But it's still nice to get a confirmation of what we should already know.

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More from @Aviation_Intel

16 Aug
Love how half of this episode of Unidentified was based on all my & my team’s painstaking research without 1 bit of credit. Would i do their show when asked? No, i don’t do UFO shows, but jesus at least mention where all that came from. Sickening. Couldn’t believe what I watched
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