The Navy this week issued a formal request for information from aerospace companies regarding their ideas for building a sixth-generation fighter/attack aircraft to replace Boeing’s F/A 18 Super Hornet beginning 15 years from now.
Boeing so far has been the only company that has shown strong interest in the plane, which the Navy has been talking about for at least five years.
Boeing’s initial concept for the plane shows a stealthy twin-engine tailless plane made of advanced materials.
Boeing needs to win the contract for that aircraft if the company hopes to continue in the fighter business. Boeing lost the competition to Lockheed-Martin for the U.S. fifth-generation fighter, the F-35. It now produces two aging fighter designs, the F-15 and the F/A-18E/F at its former McDonnell Douglas plant in St. Louis.
The new aircraft may be designed to operate with a human pilot and as a remote-controlled aircraft sans a conventional pilot.
Lockheed/Martin has built the two most recent U.S. fighters, the F-22 Raptor and the F-35. The F-35 is still encountering problems, particularly with the Navy version. Boeing is selling Super Hornets to both the U.S. Navy and to Australia to fill the gap caused by late deliveries of the F-35.