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Sixth Generation Fighter

Discussion in 'Air Force & Aviation' started by Ozzy Blizzard, Mar 1, 2008.

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  1. Ozzy Blizzard

    Ozzy Blizzard New Member

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    Boeing has described its "6th Gen" fighter in combination with a planned F/A-18E/F Block III:


    Aviation Week


    One has to beg the question as to wether this is just a ploy to sell some more Rhino's. Would the 6th gen fighter be ready by 2024, considering we know virtually nothing of its design goals or capabilities? Although 16 years is plenty.

    What would be the criteria for the 6th gen fighter to distinguish it from 5th gen? I thought an interesting comment was "It could be unmanned, but I think you will see a combination of missions -- some manned, some unmanned." Perhaps fitted for but not with a Pilot? It seems the F-35A~C may not be the USAF's last maned fighter after all?

    I would love to hear some opinions on this project.
     
  2. Atilla [TR]

    Atilla [TR] New Member

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    I like the sounds of this only if the American congress allows the external sales of this airplane. I also like the F-18 but it is sowing it's age and an upgraded version would be ideal to nations like Australia and Canada. But you cannot just keep on pumping more juice to a dead horse once it's charm has rubbed off you can never get the charm back. Kinda like trying to modernize a F-111 to the brink of where a new plane would make more sense. :nutkick
     
  3. Grand Danois

    Grand Danois Entertainer

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    It's not easy for Boeing these days... As soon as slots in the F-35 programme becomes available for export customers, hard times will fall upon the sales prospects of "4 3/4 Gen" jets.

    And now the KC-X.
     
  4. Dr Freud

    Dr Freud New Member

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    I never really did like the F18 all that much, coz low speed, low payload and short range. A6E was better bombtruck, F14 was better interceptor. F18 is multirole tho...
    If they improve in these areas OK. I think "It could be unmanned" is a brilliant move, and is what will define a 6th gen fighter, together with all aspect stealth.

    What i think is especially appealing is 1: to send the aircraft on a suicidemission like take out AWACs.(its hard work convincing a pilot he's the right man for the task) and 2: just loitering around on the flanks and triangle everything that radiates. You just need a handful of these planes.
    7th gen is getting more interesting, mach 6, long range, cloaking, laser, who knows..
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2008
  5. Ozzy Blizzard

    Ozzy Blizzard New Member

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    Yeah, this is why i'm slightly scheptical of wether the 6th gen fighter will be ready as a replacement for the 5th gen by 2024. F/A-18E/F & F-15K/SG are boeings only real military export oportunities and they'll dry up one F-35A/C hits the scene. All in all it sounds like a good deal but if your relying on 4.5th gen alone and this magic 6th gen fighter is either delayed or denied export and the threat has evolved to 5th gen, well you'd probably buy late build F-35's, which means you will be annother 10-15 years behind 6th gen. Kind of a catch 22 if that one occurs.
     
  6. windscorpion

    windscorpion New Member

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    Forget 6th, 7th, wait for the 8th. :p:

    I think people are taking these "generations" too seriously, they are largely just marketing aids.
     
  7. Falstaff

    Falstaff New Member

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    Well, indeed most nations leave out one or two generations, jumping from 2nd to 4th gen or so called 4.5 or even 5th gen. Perhaps Boeing's statement is more or less directed towards those who are inducting 3+ or 4+ generation fighters at the moment, saying don't panic, the JSF isn't the end of all times. Staying with the 4.5 generation fighters probably won't be too much of a problem compared to rushing into a JSF-buy for most countries' needs.

    Most of these fighters like the SH or EF will be phased out in the 2030-2040 timeframe. By the time the (evolved) JSF will still be on the market I guess and perhaps first 6th gen designs will be mature enough.

    For me as a specialist in production technology rather than aircraft design a revolutionary step is hard to imagine.
    I guess that besides the all-aspect stealth and better network capabilities the defining stuff will be:
    - an all black airframe
    - a significantly enhanced MMI
    - further enhanced "all-around-sensor-suite" utilizing parts of the hull as sensor arrays
    - much better self-defence suite perhaps based on directed energy weapons
    - significantly increased operational speed (with the accordant engine technology)

    Unlike many others I don't believe the next generation will be unmanned. Especially in the very tight and populated European air space that'll not be an option. And I don't think DEW's will serve as primary weapons so soon.

    Just my 2 (€-) cents...
     
  8. SlyDog

    SlyDog New Member

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    Bigger? :D hmmmm

    Add: on the other hand...with some improvment of fuel efficency and behaps ability to combine realy good aerodynamics together with stealht, its mayby not need to increase the size that much
     
  9. Dr Freud

    Dr Freud New Member

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    I'm having a hard time believing DEW will serve as the primary weapon on such a small aircraft too, allthough i can't fully dismiss it.
    Perhaps jumbojets will serve as the primary fighter, they will have the capability to use DEW, indeed they allready have.
    I do belive technological breakthroughs is going to come faster and faster. (perhaps a combination of historical fact and wishful thinking)
    I see a really useful niche for unmanned aircrafts tho.
     
  10. nevidimka

    nevidimka New Member

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    This is what happen's when a civilian jet company enters a defence jet market.

    Anyways, this will not only try to hamper JSF sales, i will also hamper current SH sales.
     
  11. BilalK

    BilalK New Member

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    Perhaps 6th generation's defining capability may not necessarily be the fighter being unmanned...but rather its capability to operate closely and "naturally" with a range of unmanned aircraft. Perhaps develop a concept that could be very closely linked many assets...manage to direct control on UAV/UCAVs?
     
  12. nevidimka

    nevidimka New Member

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    Actually who is boeing to say what defines 6th gen or not? If generations are to be followed strictly, then JSF wouldnt be 5th gen coz it doesnt have supercruise.
     
  13. Gryphon

    Gryphon New Member

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    F/A-18L (light)

    Boeing (MacD) offered an export version of the Hornet decades ago. The F-18L was a de-Navalized version, taking away all of the heavy beef needed for carrier landings. With the hinges on the wing removed, those massive wing carry through bulkheads thinned up and a set of YF-17 landing gear, on paper, the aircraft's performance saw impressive gains. A similar new, by today's standard, version could be even more attractive.

    If they based the F-18L(new) on the original C/D size and keep the F414's which have 35% more thrust than the original F404 series engines, puts the thrust/weight ratio on the right side of 1:1. A new hinge-less composite wing would give better maneuverability, range and a lower RCS. Give the new model a pair of vectored thrust nozzles and it could be quite formidable and tempting to potential F-35 customers.

    Betting on the F-35 variants to be a) delayed, b) not as good as advertised, c) more expensive then advertised -- seems safe money to me.
     
  14. Dr Freud

    Dr Freud New Member

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    Especially as it has already met or exceeded those criterias :rolleyes:
     
  15. Ozzy Blizzard

    Ozzy Blizzard New Member

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    I think the general consensus is that the defining features of 5th gen over 4th or 4.5 are VLo and the ability to operate in a nextworked environment. Supercruise is superfluos to the core requirements.
     
  16. Dr Freud

    Dr Freud New Member

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    For a fighter, the single most important criteria is speed.
    (in my personal view, range is also very important)
    In this respect, the F35 is a gen 4.5. I consider it to be 5th gen attack tho.
    All fighters from 4.5 up have reduced RCS and the ability to operate in a networked environment.

    A fighter pilot's 1st axiom is "speed is life."
    Only 2nd comes the axiom "lose the sight-lose the fight"

    While F35 can be considered VLO in front, it is LO from any other view.
    What i specifically want to point out is that, there are evolutionary improvements on RCS over the years, not revolutionary
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2008
  17. gf0012-aust

    gf0012-aust Grumpy Old Man Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    High speed for fighters was dropped as a requirement by all combat aircraft manufacturers virtually at the end of the cold war.

    that's why every subsequent design has been focussed on entering the battlespace autonomously asap and as far as possible before local AD detection kicks in.
     
  18. gf0012-aust

    gf0012-aust Grumpy Old Man Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    You need to read the history of Stealth/LO aircraft that exists in this forum section.

    Its been clearly detailed.
     
  19. Grand Danois

    Grand Danois Entertainer

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    This is it:

    http://www.defencetalk.com/forums/showthread.php?p=121924

    Perhaps there should be made a sticky with general sources on the topic of stealth, to avoid the eternal repetition of the same arguments (?)

    Rebecca Grant: The Radar Game - Understanding Stealth and Aircraft Survivability, used to be accesible on the net, not so anymore. Great primer, so too bad. But key points are summarized here:

    http://www.afa.org/magazine/Feb1999/0299radar.asp

    There are others out there. :D

    If anyone has any suggestions for online material, you may PM me, and it will be included, if a sticky is to be made.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2008
  20. Grand Danois

    Grand Danois Entertainer

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    This is so wrong. First, your misconception wrt VLO/LO on the F-35. Where are your sources for this? How is mission planning going to be affected?

    Second, one can make evolutionary improvements to RCS through shaping or EW (virtual improvement). But when a platform has been designed from the beginning to include the "true revolution of stealth", those very same measures have an even greater impact on the VLO platform and how this platform can be employed than on the non-VLO platform. The dime has so much not dropped yet on this one!

    Perhaps the most important aspect of US multigenerational VLO, is that the latest generation of technologies makes it affordable on both the acquisition side as well on the maintenance side.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2008
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