DailyTech – U.S. Navy Starts Search for a Sixth Generation Fighter

The F-35 program is still ongoing and infamously over budget, yet the U.S. Navy is kicking off the early steps in the search for a sixth generation fighter to replace the current F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. This first step in searching for new fighter aircraft is a Request for Information from companies interested in participating with the program.

The document reads, “To support OPNAV N98’s request, this is a Pre-Material Development Decision (MDD) market survey for the purpose of determining market interest, feasibility, and capability of potential sources and does NOT constitute a Request for Proposals. NO SOLICITATION DOCUMENTS EXIST AT THIS TIME.”

via DailyTech – U.S. Navy Starts Search for a Sixth Generation Fighter.


The Navy is never going to buy enough F-35s to replace the SuperHornet fleet. Something is going to have to replace the Supers. As the F-35C enters the fleet (maybe?) the priority will be to replace legacy Hornets that are worn out. How worn out? The Navy has been rebuilding low-time F/A-18As to A++ configuration to replace worn out F/A-18Cs. That’s a pretty expensive, short term solution. And there are only so many low time airframes available.

The Navy is also pretty clearly hedging its bets against the F-35 program getting the axe. I don’t think the C model will get canceled, but the Navy has to have a contingency plan. If the C model does die, the most likely solution is to buy a lot more E/F SuperHornets to replace legacy Hornets, and crank up this program to eventually replace early blocks of SuperHornets.

Ignore the comments at the article. There’s a lot of stupid people there.

4 thoughts on “DailyTech – U.S. Navy Starts Search for a Sixth Generation Fighter”

  1. Forgive me for asking what must be a stupid question, but why don’t we replace our current F/A-18’s with…new F/A-18’s? Swap out the airframes on a FIFO basis, maybe recycle avionics and non-fatigue components to save some money. If the F-35 ever gets un-FUBAR start replacing airframes with them. Once the Russians and/or Chinese start fielding significant numbers of 5th generation fighters we can worry about designing generation 6.

    1. Well, rebuilding C models is almost as expensive as building new E/F models. So the current plan is for a lot of the oldest C models to be replaced by E/F, and the last of the C models to be replaced by F-35C. Not sure if the notional air wing of the future is 3 SH squadrons and one F-35 squadron, or two of each. I guess that depends on how the F-35 program shakes out. Check back in the morning for a briefing on the SuperHornet.

    2. Ditto what Brad said. As a Patriot missile tech I’d like to add two more points. The air threat from China and Russia (they love to sell their tech) makes the teen series outdated. It’s just a matter of time before the new SAMs and their new fighters fly under the colors of nations that hate us.

      Metal fatigue it the biggest part of the cost of rebuilding old aircraft. For naval aircraft it’s the kiss of death since they suffer from stress and added corrosion. Better to build a new plane because 9 times out of 10 you have no choice.

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