Will Roper the boss of the US Airforce Acquisitions is trying to turn the traditional procurement process on it's head. Whether he will be successful is anyone guess. But his advocacy of a modern present day digital version of the Century Fighter Series should maintain if not increase the number of prime contractors, the consolidation of these contractors is a worry for the Pentagon. Given that I am re-producing below a quote from the defenseone link posted above:
[BEGIN QUOTE]And because the advanced manufacturing techniques that are critical for building NGAD were pioneered by the commercial sector, the program could open the door for new prime contractors for the aircraft to emerge —
“I have to imagine there will be a lot of engineers — maybe famous ones with well-known household names with billions of dollars to invest — that will decide starting the world’s greatest aircraft company to build the world’s greatest aircraft with the Air Force is exactly the kind of inspiring thing they want to do as a hobby or even a main gig,” Roper said.[/END QUOTE]
He is referring to Elon Musk above. As you know Musk was invited to speak at an Airforce symposium recently where he flatly stated that the future of air combat is drone warfare and that manned aircraft will soon become extinct much to the consternation of the many fighter pilot types who were present at that symposium. But the way that Musk has upended the space launch business and put long time veterans like Boeing and ULA on the defensive has impressed the Pentagon. So it is possible that the NGAD may not turn out to be one single fighter like the F-22 or F-35, but will become a series of fighters like the, F-101, F-102, F-104, F-106, some manned and other un-manned. And the Airforce believes that digital engineering and 3D printing, one of the reasons for the shockingly quick 1 year time frame to build and fly the NGAD from a design frozen stage, will enable a rapid churn of modern aircraft built by different prime contractors including maybe Musk. The basic IP will vest with the Airforce and the add-ons for each fighter in the series will provided by each prime contractor.