May 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy's next generation of fighter planes will not be jointly developed with the U.S. Air Force, a Navy official said.
Unlike the F-35, which has variants for each military branch, the Navy does not intend to use the Next Generation Air Dominance aircraft in penetration missions of highly contested airspace. The strategy differs from that of the Air Force.
"A penetrating fighter, the Navy doesn't have to do that. So some of that inherent design of the aircraft, it does drive costs, and if you don't need that for our mission area, then you don't necessarily want to pay for it," Angie Knappenberger, the Navy's deputy director of air warfare, told the Navy League Sea-Air-Space conference Tuesday in National Harbor, Md.
The Navy's NGAD will likely share some systems with current F-35s, she added, as well as with the plane the Air Force develops.
"Some of those systems are going to be very complementary and we are looking forward to what the Air Force is going to be doing, as I'm sure they're going to be looking hard at what we're going to be doing in that system development," Knappenberger said.
The decision comes after the Navy and Air Force collaborated for three decades to develop the F-35. In a money-saving attempt, it was hoped that the F-35s of the Navy, Air Force and Marines would share about 70 percent of common parts. The planes today only share about 20 percent.
The annual conference and trade show is billed as "the largest maritime exposition in the U.S."
The cost of the F-35, as well as incidents of parts inavailability, prompted a $90 million contract awarded in February to Lockheed Martin to reduce the cost of the aircraft. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, a former executive of Lockheed Martin competitor Boeing, has been critical of the F-35's price, which now comes in three variants, costing between $89 million and $115.5 million each.