Since his appointment to the post of Assistant Secretary to the US Air Force in charge of acquisitions in February 2018, Will Roper has surprised his audience many times with his daring proposals, and his approaches in perfect opposition to Washington's industrial doxa. This doctor in applied mathematics from the University of Oxford, who had created in 2012 the Strategic Capability Office at the Pentagon, indeed brought a radically new vision, and an intellectual agility which disconcerted many. His last appearance was no different from the previous ones, when he announced that in the face of the repeated contraction of the advanced American aviation industry, the US Air Force might 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 neither more nor less than to abandon the principles of large series, as is the case of the F35, to return to more restricted programs of specialized devices with a shorter lifespan, of the order of 15 at age 20, concerning the Next-Generation Air Dominance program, or NGAD. The use of the comparison with the Century Series, named after the series of aircraft designed in the 50s ranging from the F100 Super Saber to the F106, and which was to bring the United States absolute air supremacy, was far from being a success. Some of its aircraft, like the F104 Starfighter, were even more than disappointing in operation. On the other hand, the idea underlying the Century Series remains valid, namely to design and build a series of specialized and complementary devices belonging to the same technological generation.
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