Since his appointment as Assistant Secretary to the U.S. Air Force in charge of acquisitions in February 2018, Will Roper has many times surprised his audience with his bold proposals, and his approaches in perfect opposition to the industrial doxa of Washington. This doctor in applied mathematics from the University of Oxford, who had created in 2012 the Strategic Capability Office at the Pentagon, has indeed brought a radically new vision, and an intellectual agility which has puzzled many. His last appearance was no different from the previous ones, when he announced that faced with the repeated contraction of the American advanced aeronautical industry, the US Air Force could have no other choice than nationalization….
It must be said that the 42-year-old man had already shown his propensity to upset paradigms when he presented, in 2019, his project called Digital Century Series, which proposes no more and no less than abandoning the principles of mass production, as is the case with the F35, to return to more restricted programs of specialized devices with a shorter lifespan, of the order of 15 at 20, for the Next-Generation Air Dominance program, or NGAD. The use of the comparison with the Century Series, from the name of the series of aircraft designed in the 50s from the F100 Super Saber to the F106, which was to bring absolute air supremacy to the United States, was far from being a success. Some of its aircraft, like the F104 Starfighter, even proved to be more than disappointing in operation. On the other hand, the idea underlying the Century Serie remains valid, namely to design and build a series of specialized and complementary devices belonging to the same technological generation.
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