The US Air Force’s (USAF) Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) programme has achieved e-Series designation, making it the service’s next e-aircraft.

The news was announced by USAF acquisition, technology and logistics assistant secretary William Roper in an essay that serves as a guidebook for digitally engineered programmes.

As stated in the guidebook, the application of 14 digital engineering principles has allowed the USAF’s first e-aircraft, eT-7A Red Hawk, to be designed and built in just three years.

This has enabled the service’s ‘most advanced sixth-generation flight demonstrator’ to fly in the real-world much ahead of expected timelines.

In his ‘Bending the Spoon’ essay, Roper stated: “Digital engineering takes computer creation technology to the next level, rendering not just the design of complex systems, but their assembly, environment and even physical performance in high-powered virtual reality.”

Though computer-aided design (CAD) has existed for more than six decades, he states that new virtual reality (VR) technology is more superior due to its computing power.

Roper wrote: “A trillion-fold boost in computer processing has morphed those early blueprint tools into today’s powerful digital engineering models, called digital threads and digital twins, that replace real-world prototyping and testing with authoritative virtual sources of truth.”

NGAD is not the first programme to have achieved e-Series status.

Roper added: “A-10 re-wing programme, B-52 commercial engine replacement programme, and Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent have all met the e-Series bar.”

In April, the USAF 36th Wing was set to construct an Expeditionary Medical Support System (EMEDS) at the US Naval Hospital Guam.