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Navy Quietly Starts Development of Next-Generation Carrier Fighter; Plans Call for Manned, Long-Range Aircraft

After nearly a decade of fits and starts, the Navy has quietly initiated work to develop its first new carrier-based fighter in almost 20 years, standing up a new program office and holding early discussions with industry, USNI News has learned.

The multi-billion-dollar effort to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and electronic attack EA-18G Growlers beginning in the 2030s is taking early steps to quickly develop a new manned fighter to extend the reach of the carrier air wing and bring new relevance to the Navy’s fleet of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

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The Navy Is Finally Creating America’s Next Fighter Jet

The U.S. Navy is laying the groundwork to field a new fighter jet sometime in the next decade. The Next Generation Air Dominance fighter, meant to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, should start flying off America’s aircraft carriers in the 2030s. But a declining defense budget and short timetable could mean the best candidate is … the F-35.

U.S. Navy aircraft carriers typically embark four squadrons of fighter jets as part of the carrier air wing. Right now, all four squadrons fly the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Over the course of the next decade, the Navy will retire older Super Hornets in favor of the carrier-based variant of the F-35, the F-35C. By the 2030s, a carrier air wing should consist of about two squadrons of upgraded Super Hornets, the Block III, and two squadrons of F-35Cs.

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Visiting the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC): July 2020

The US Navy is in the throes of reworking its capability to prevail in the high-end fight while ensuring its ability to engage in full spectrum crisis management.There is no clearer proof of this judgment than the latest efforts at the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC).

Most people know this as TOPGUN and envisage Tom Cruise-type characters preparing for air combat somewhere in global conflict.

But today’s NAWDC is focused not simply on training for the integrated air wing, but the integratable air wing engaging in leveraging and enhancing fleet-wide operations and working closely with joint and coalition force partners.

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Blue Angels receives first F/A-18E Super Hornet

The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, has received first Blue Angels F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft.

On Tuesday, the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron press release said that the first F/A-18E Super Hornet for the US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (USNFDS) “Blue Angels” arrived at home base NAS Pensacola (FL).

The Blue Angels are slated to transition to the F/A-18 Super Hornet later this year after using the F/A-18 Hornet for 34 years.

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An Update on the Integratable Air Wing: A Discussion with the US Navy’s Air Boss

Last February, I visited San Diego and met with Vice Admiral Miller, the US Navy’s Air Boss. During that meeting, we discussed a shift from what I call the integrated to the integratable air wing and its impact on innovation for the fleet and the joint force.

During that discussion, I learned about the introduction of the MISR WTIs or the Maritime ISR Weapons and Tactics Instructors (WTIs), who are specially trained officers and enlisted, to the ranks as well as of the coming of the Osprey to the carrier force in the near term and the MQ-25 unmanned air tanker to the fleet in the mid-term.

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If the US Navy isn’t careful, its new unmanned tanker drone could face a 3-year delay

WASHINGTON — The US Navy could face a three-year delay in testing of the MQ-25 Stingray carrier-based tanking drone if it doesn’t get its designated test ships through the required modernizations on time, a possibility the Navy said was remote.

Two carriers — Carl Vinson and George H.W. Bush — have limited windows to complete the installation of unmanned aircraft control stations, and if operational commitments intervene it could create significant issues for the program, according to Navy officials and a government watchdog report.

“Program officials stated that, among other things, the Navy’s potential inability to maintain its schedule commitments could require modifications to the contract that would impact the fixed-price terms,” the Government Accountability Office reported. “Specifically, the Navy faces limited flexibility to install MQ-25 control centers on aircraft carriers.

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At a budgetary crossroads, the US Navy’s aviation wing must choose between old and new

WASHINGTON — In the coming years, the U.S. Navy will be faced with a decision that will radically shape the carrier air wing: Is the service willing to sacrifice dozens of new Super Hornet jets for the promise of a sixth-generation fighter in the 2030s?

The Navy is opting to buy a final 24 F/A-18E/Fs in fiscal 2021, slashing a planned purchase of at least 36 Super Hornets that would have spanned FY22 through FY24. The move will save $4.5 billion, which the service plans to redirect to its sixth-generation fighter program, known as Next Generation Air Dominance, or F/A-XX.

However, the decision may not be as clear cut — or final — as budget documents make it seem.

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With China gunning for aircraft carriers, US Navy says it has to change how it fights

WASHINGTON ? Just because China might be able to hit US Navy aircraft carriers with long-range anti-ship missiles doesn’t mean carriers are worthless, the service’s top officer said December 5.

The chorus of doom and gloom over China’s anti-access weapons is too simplistic, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said, but that doesn’t mean the Navy should refrain from adjusting the way it fights.

“Let’s look at this like a physics problem,” Gilday proposed. “[People will say]: ‘Hypersonics go really fast and they travel at long ranges. Carriers can only travel [‘X’ distance], so carriers are going to have to go away.’ That’s a very simplistic way to look at the problem.

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The new seal for the Navy’s next aircraft carrier contains a hint about big changes coming to naval aviation

This month, the US Navy unveiled the official seal for the future aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy, which was officially launched on October 29, three months ahead of schedule.

The Kennedy will be christened in Newport News, Virginia, on December 7, and even though it likely won’t be commissioned into service until 2020, the carrier’s seal reveals what naval aviation will look like aboard the Kennedy in the decades to come.

The seal ? meant to honor Kennedy, his Navy service, and his vision for space exploration ? depicts several aircraft that will operate on the carrier.

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Navy, Air Force Reach Handshake Agreement to Develop Joint Battle Network

NORFOLK, Va. ? The Navy and the Air Force are taking the first tentative steps to create a joint battle network that would allow Navy ships and aircraft to share targeting information with Air Force aircraft, Navy and Air Force officials confirmed to USNI News on Wednesday.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein have hatched an informal agreement to develop the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) network, Air Force and Navy officials told USNI News this week.

?There was an agreement between the Chief of Naval Operations and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force regarding the Navy?s support to the Air Force on the Joint All Domain Command and Control concept,? Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Nate Christensen told USNI News on Wednesday.

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