Northrop Grumman Ad Teases 6th-Generation Fighter

A gray wedge of danger with a pilot
6th Generation Fighter Concept

Screenshot by author, from YouTube

If this Northrop Grumman ad is any indication, we haven’t seen the last of the piloted fighter jet. The defense giant is best known for its long line of flying wings, including the iconic B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and the yet-to-be-unveiled Long Range Strike Bomber. Their new 30-second clip doesn’t show us any new details about that bomber, which remains under wraps in ads even after winning a major Air Force contract. Instead, it gives us a trio of arrow-head-shaped grey wedges, all stealthy jet fighters with room for human pilots on board.

A new mystery fighter flies alongside a few of Northrop’s already flying planes, including the B-2 and the unmanned X-47B technology demonstrator. While not a design made for mass production, the X-47B, with its stealth, autonomy, and ability to land on carriers, is seen by many as a precursor to an unmanned era of military aircraft ahead. But the new ad suggests the opposite.

While this commercial just shows off concept art, the cockpit on the potential 6th-generation fighter are clearly visible. Because it takes decades to go from fighter concept to fighter in service, DARPA’s already looking at the future generations. It’s way too soon to say whether the fighter that eventually succeeds the F-35 will have a human in the cockpit, but at the very least, Northrop Grumman thinks it’s important enough to include it as a selling point.

Watch the full spot, entitled “Just Wait,” below: