Behold Northrop Grumman’s Next-Generation Fighter Jet

Rudderless, kite-shaped, and definitely not a drone.

byWill Sabel Courtney|
Behold Northrop Grumman’s Next-Generation Fighter Jet

America’s fifth generation of jet fighters has turned out to be, shall we say...problematic. The F-22A Raptor can run rings around nearly every other fighter jet on the planet, when it’s not asphyxiating its pilot or shedding its precious radar-absorbing skin. And the jack-of-all-trades F-35 program has wound up being FUBAR, wasting billions of dollars with a development timeline that makes Tesla look responsible.

But the clock doesn’t stop, and new military aircraft need to be planned out decades in advance. So while the nation’s other defense contractors (cough cough, Lockheed Martin) try to sort out the problems with the fifth-gen planes, Northrop Grumman has just released its vision for a sixth-generation fighter in a promotional video.

It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo, six seconds of aircraft frolicking with afterburners alight in a half-minute video teasing Northrop Grumman’s future. If you didn’t know what you are looking for, you might mistake the sixth-generation fighter’s flat, rudderless form and cranked kite planform for a drone like the X-47B that shows up in the next shot…

...except for the cockpit bubbles glimmering near the front of each jet.