The Navy plans next year to provide the Pentagon materiel investment recommendations for its Next Generation Air Dominance initiative, set to determine the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler replacement.
The service began conducting an analysis of alternatives for its sixth-generation fighter in May 2016. The Super Hornet and Growler will both retire in the 2030s.
At the time, the Navy anticipated the study would last about 18 months. Concepts under review include a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft with advanced propulsion technologies, varying stealth characteristics, advanced standoff weapons, sensors and networks, according to the Pentagon's annual aviation and inventory plan submitted to Congress April 19.
"The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment USD (A&S), as well as the Office of Cost Assessment and Performance Evaluation, directed the Navy and the Air Force to conduct separate but coordinated examinations of [materiel] solution options," the report reads.
Additionally, the Navy completed a capability based assessment to inform replacing two adversary aircraft, the F-5F IN Tiger II and the F-16A/B Fighting Falcon. The service continues studying various operating concepts, including live, virtual and constructive solutions, to recapitalize capabilities in the current platforms.
"This effort will describe air combat training requirements for Naval Aviators so that they can achieve operational goals, given training requirements of more capable and integrated systems, expected tactical situations and assessed threats," the report reads.
In April, Navy and Marine Corps senior service officials told Congress the service is still working to identify options for the F/A-XX, also called NGAD.
"The Joint Chiefs of Staff approved the Initial Capabilities Document that frames NGAD study requirements to support the full range of military operations from carrier-based platforms," according to the written testimony. "The AOA is considering the widest possible range of materiel concepts while balancing capability, cost/affordability, schedule, and supportability."
The Navy's FY-19 budget request seeks more than $25 million across the five-year spending plan in research and development funding for management support.
Further, the report notes the Air Force began its AOA for NGAD after achieving a materiel development decision in January 2017. The service anticipates the AOA will wrap up this summer.