The U.S. Navy is laying the groundwork to field a new fighter jet sometime in the next decade. The Next Generation Air Dominance fighter, meant to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, should start flying off America’s aircraft carriers in the 2030s. But a declining defense budget and short timetable could mean the best candidate is the F-35.
U.S. Navy aircraft carriers typically embark four squadrons of fighter jets as part of the carrier air wing. Right now, all four squadrons fly the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Over the course of the next decade, the Navy will retire older Super Hornets in favor of the carrier-based variant of the F-35, the F-35C. By the 2030s, a carrier air wing should consist of about two squadrons of upgraded Super Hornets, the Block III, and two squadrons of F-35Cs.