Glitzy Northrop Grumman Ad Teases Totally Notional New Long-Range Stealth Fighter (Updated)

While it doesn’t give away sensitive details, the ad points to Northrop Grumman’s ambition to build the next-generation air dominance tactical jet.

byTyler Rogoway|
NGAD photo


When it comes to glitzy ads, nobody is a bigger tease than Northrop Grumman. Who can blame them? With so much intellectual property and hardware hiding in the shadows, there is no better way to garner interest than to play all that up. I mean, who can forget the company's Superbowl ad prior to winning the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) contract that would morph into the B-21 Raider? Now a new ad gives us a hangar full of types to examine, and then some. Of course, this is all in good fun. The company is not going to out their most sensitive designs for marketing's sake. Still, it is fun to see what they put forward for our enjoyment and as a bit of a 'hint-hint.'

The new ad, which plays on their past 'hangar' settings, is set around an elevator opening into a bustling hangar with its bay door open. The space is filled with Northrop Grumman aircraft — from the present and the not-so-distant future. It definitely offers a lot to look at in a very short time. In fact, it looks a bit like a scene from a Michael Bay movie. Check it out below:

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So, what do we have to look at here? the hangar seems to be divided into the future and now. You can also look at it possibly as Navy on the right and Air Force on the left, although this doesn't hold up perfectly. Let's break it down from the left front to right front:

  • This looks like a notional Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) manned platform. The Air Force and the Navy have parallel programs to develop their own NGAD concepts, which will be a family of systems, including unmanned aircraft and a long-range manned tactical type. This fits the bill. It's very big, stealthy, and has no vertical tails. It also has a hell of a chine line that wraps around the airframe. Its dorsal intake is also a very stealthy attribute. It is hard to tell, but if there is just one and not another intake on the other side, with the spine behind the cockpit flowing into it, it looks a bit similar to the Model 401 'Son of ARES' demonstrators that were built by Northrop Grumman's subsidiary Scaled Composites and are currently undergoing secretive test work. Still, it is likely the design has two intakes, one on each side. An NGAD demonstrator of some sort is already flying. It could be Northrop Grumman's for all we know, but there are likely to be major opportunities surrounding NGAD as the program spins up. Clearly, if they aren't involved now, they really want to be. 
  • Next, we have the pointy white nose that looks like one of Northrop Grumman's new affordable loyal wingman and unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) concepts. One of these is derived from — you guessed it — the Model 401, while the other is directly based on it. You can read about this family of airframes that Northrop Grumman wants to build for the Pentagon and possibly allied nations in this past post of ours.
  • Farthest back on the left is a flying-wing unmanned combat air vehicle very similar to the company's promising X-47B demonstrators that were painfully passed over by the Navy for a tanker and surveillance drone known today as MQ-25 Stingray. Boeing ended up winning that tender. Northrop Grumman recently told The War Zone that they are doing something new with the two X-47B airframes that were in storage. Hopefully, this is an indication of a second chance at life for the type or an offshoot of its cranked-kite flying wing design, as well as the procurement of a proper high-end, low-observable UCAV. More on this puzzling saga here. Northrop Grumman's concept art for the Air Force's MQ-Next initiative for what will replace the MQ-9 Reaper looked just like an X-47B. Regardless, the one shown in the video is carrier-capable, at least based on its nose bear launch bar.
  • In the dead center, we have the B-2 Spirit, seemingly bridging the gap between tomorrow and today. Oh and far in the background appears to be a B-21 Raider or an RQ-180 taking off — they share a similar planform. Almost certainly this is to indicate the B-21 — it is not like the very real and still highly classified RQ-180's attendance is mandatory for a fun television spot! They look similar anyway, at least as far as we know.
  • Then on the rear right, we have the EA-18G Growler. Northrop Grumman is a major player in its electronic warfare systems. 
  • Next in line, we have an E-2D Hawkeye, the extremely capable latest variation of the Navy's venerable airborne early warning and control aircraft that Northrop Grumman builds and the Navy buys.
  • And finally, the MQ-4C Triton, the maritime surveillance derivative of the Q-4 Global Hawk. 

So there you have it! Northrop Grumman having a bit of fun showing off some of their future works in progress, even in just a notional manner, as well as what they have got going on now. 

There are plenty of other initiatives not indicated here, but regardless, it provides some expected eye candy for yet another quintessential Northrop Grumman ad.

They always leave us wanting more, don't they?


Northrop Grumman has posted a high-definition extended version of the ad. Check it out:

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