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USAF's Sixth Gen Fighter demo may be to take to the air soon

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posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 09:11 AM
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We all know the USAF has been talking about a follow-on of sorts for the F-22. Currently, the program has been titled the "Next Gen Air Dominance." It hasn't said what sort of aircraft it will be. It hasn't said whether it will be a traditional fighter (or not). It could (potentially, but not likely, IMO) be a B-21 refitted to be air2air only. However, none of that has been said. What has been said is the USAF is wrapping up its analysis of alternatives this summer. Likewise, budget diving is fun and has a line in the NGAD budget for FY19:


s. In addition, technical risk reduction activities will be performed to include experimentation, integration and building demonstrative prototypes.


www.dtic.mil...

The total request is also interesting: ~$492 million. The projected net year (FY20) is showing a $1.3B request and a projected $1.9B in FY21 and $3.2B in FY22.

In contrast, the Navy, for its Next Gen Fighter is still working on the AOA and has only requested $5M for FY19 and for several years after.

www.dtic.mil...

For historical comparison, here's the funding profile of the Advanced Tactical Fighter program circa 1988:

www.gao.gov...

Skip down to page 10. The costs of the YF-22 & YF-23 prototypes are present ($691M each, 1985 dollars). Adjusted for inflation gives you a price of $1.6B each in today's dollars

The USAF is buying demonstrators, I'm willing to bet, and those birds are going to fly (relatively) soon.

Still unclear is how the so-called Penetrating Counter Air fits into this.
edit on 4-6-2018 by anzha because: added text

edit on 4-6-2018 by anzha because: added navy link




posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 09:28 AM
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There's some individuals making bank off these jets. Compared with going to the Moon, If you take the ~$20.4 billion price tag of the Apollo program and break it down into a cost per manned flight (Apollo flew 11 manned missions, 6 of which landed on the moon), each mission cost roughly $1.85 billion. Is it just me or are we paying far too much? Toilet seats come to mind.
edit on 4-6-2018 by Plotus because: $$$$$$



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 09:32 AM
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a reply to: Plotus

*cough*

$20B 1968 dollars is $146B in today dollars. The equivalent being spent is less than $2B 1968 dollars over several years.

Inflation. Sux.

data.bls.gov...



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 09:38 AM
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a reply to: Plotus

You could probably build a jet much cheaper if you only had to fly it once and then just parachute the cockpit to the ground.
Keep in mind too it only has to fly straight and not get shot at either.



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 09:48 AM
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It will be interesting to unveil/see what they come up with...I am 100% for having the best we can achieve with our technology but I am also 100% for sure the tax payers get ripped off every time another of the boondoggles gets started. It always amazes me how much the government gets charged and no one says a word or if they do it is bitch time and then forgotten.. S&F for the info



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 10:06 AM
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a reply to: anzha


Saw this a while ago too.

I think they are using this as a front for PEA, which will probably fly much sooner than PCA/NGAD (www.airforcemag.com... rm.aspx).
They spoke of a 'family of systems' approach some time ago, just like with the LRS-B (www.military.com...)

In any case, they are planning to release some kind of roadmap laying out the way forward (www.airforcemag.com...)
It'll be hilarious if PEA is not mentioned.



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 10:15 AM
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a reply to: mightmight

I suspect the PEA and PCA might be separate aircraft that share some systems, but I don't have any sources to back that up. They may even be unmanned. Again, just gut, no data.



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 10:23 AM
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a reply to: anzha
It should be a no brainer. The B-21 gets PCA capability (AtA Radar mode and a VLRAAM) and the RQ-180 gets the NGJ for PEA.

But probably not enough pork.



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 10:25 AM
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originally posted by: Plotus
There's some individuals making bank off these jets. Compared with going to the Moon, If you take the ~$20.4 billion price tag of the Apollo program and break it down into a cost per manned flight (Apollo flew 11 manned missions, 6 of which landed on the moon), each mission cost roughly $1.85 billion. Is it just me or are we paying far too much? Toilet seats come to mind.


In addition to the points several posters have made above, you have to consider supply and demand. We need these jets, period, and there's only a few companies that can make them. If we don't buy them, they might sell them to China or Russia. That gives them leverage over the government to charge almost whatever they want. But it's not as bogus as you think. The R&D on these things costs a fortune. The companies that don't get selected blow tons of money making the bid, and building a prototype if they get that far.



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 10:27 AM
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a reply to: mightmight

They've already stated the B-21 will have some A2A capability. I don't think the PCA will be just a B-21.

The PCA seems to be 'almost' an interceptor. Slip in and skedaddle fast out. I'd suspect the PEA would be the same platform, just equipped differently.

We'll see.



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 10:40 AM
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originally posted by: anzha
a reply to: mightmight

They've already stated the B-21 will have some A2A capability. I don't think the PCA will be just a B-21.


I'm not aware that they said anything about an A2A capability for the B-21 publicly.
But yes, PCA will be something else - unfortunately since its not needed if the B-21 gets A2A.


The PCA seems to be 'almost' an interceptor. Slip in and skedaddle fast out. I'd suspect the PEA would be the same platform, just equipped differently.

There was already a thread about it some time ago. They are looking into an off the shelf solution using existing technologies to build a long range VLO platform. I dont think it will have any speed to speak of.
And a high speed jamming platform would make little to no sense.

But to get real here for a second, there is zero chance they get the budget to fund PEA on another platform anyway. It will be utilizing the PCA platform/something else or not happen at all.
The entire thing is the fighter mafia flexing its muscles anyway. Their R&D guys on the industry side need something to do after the F-35 made it to production. Cant have the Navy having all the fun with the F-18 replacement.



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 11:05 AM
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originally posted by: mightmight

I'm not aware that they said anything about an A2A capability for the B-21 publicly.
But yes, PCA will be something else - unfortunately since its not needed if the B-21 gets A2A.


I'll see if I can find the link later and post it. Remind me if I forget.



There was already a thread about it some time ago. They are looking into an off the shelf solution using existing technologies to build a long range VLO platform. I dont think it will have any speed to speak of.
And a high speed jamming platform would make little to no sense.


I was thinking the higher speed for only exfiltration. It need not be very high speed. Just enough to buy time to get out of effective radar range.


But to get real here for a second, there is zero chance they get the budget to fund PEA on another platform anyway. It will be utilizing the PCA platform/something else or not happen at all.


Generally agree. The PCA and PEA, if they could to fruition, are likely to be the same bird with different kit, imo.


The entire thing is the fighter mafia flexing its muscles anyway. Their R&D guys on the industry side need something to do after the F-35 made it to production. Cant have the Navy having all the fun with the F-18 replacement.


eh. Navy is diddling around with the next gen fighter. Their funding profile is flat for a loooooong time. They also started the AOA before the USAF and will finish at least 18 months after. The USAF seems to know what it wants to do (right or wrong) and the Navy's still not overly happy with even having to start another fighter (not even declared IOC on the F-35C).



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 11:24 AM
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I was thinking the higher speed for only exfiltration. It need not be very high speed. Just enough to buy time to get out of effective radar range.
The point of VLO and the enhanced sensor Suite they are pushing is never to get into anything effective in the first place...



eh. Navy is diddling around with the next gen fighter. Their funding profile is flat for a loooooong time. They also started the AOA before the USAF and will finish at least 18 months after. The USAF seems to know what it wants to do (right or wrong) and the Navy's still not overly happy with even having to start another fighter (not even declared IOC on the F-35C).

With good reason. F/A-XX and PCA are not comparable. The Navy wants to build a true sixth gen fighter eventually. The Air Force wants yet another shiny 5th Gen fighter as soon as possible.
Prior to the F-22 replacement efforts the Air Force had no fighter program in development besides the F-35. This was unacceptable for many former pilots... As soon as PCA is done they push for true sixth gen. And force the Navy to adopt their proposal when they only want to procure more F-35s... history repeating itself.



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 11:54 AM
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a reply to: mightmight


The point of VLO and the enhanced sensor Suite they are pushing is never to get into anything effective in the first place...


I get that. However, given convergence by other powers with sensor tech, I'd rather not just rely on VLO tech. As the navy pointed out, it's really hard to hide in the IR when you're pushing aside air with sufficiently advanced sensors.


With good reason. F/A-XX and PCA are not comparable.


True. The Navy and USAF have said that. Neither party wants to repeat the F-35 experience.

However, NGAD (USAF 6th gen) and PCA might not be the same thing. That's a question I still have since all the budget dox call it NGAD and the USAF brass mention PCA as ... something. Might be the same thing. Might not.



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 12:17 PM
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However, NGAD (USAF 6th gen) and PCA might not be the same thing. That's a question I still have since all the budget dox call it NGAD and the USAF brass mention PCA as ... something. Might be the same thing. Might not.


As i understand it NGAD is just an headline they use for alot of different research and development efforts.
PCA is not 6th Gen and never was. No lasers, no hypersonics, whatever, just VLO / high endurance / high payload. Better than anything anyone else can field for decades but nothing revolutionary. At least initally. m.aviationweek.com...

But they fund it through NGAD which in turn is also used for some sort of preliminary 6th Gen studies. I'm also quite sure the term 'PCA' never turned up in any budget material.



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 01:58 PM
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a reply to: mightmight

Unfortunately, I don't have a current avweek subscription, so I'm at a disadvantage as to what it says. OTOH, if its like other things I've read, the USAF is talking about scaling back expectations so they can field something much faster. The question is what the AOA and requirements dox will consider mature tech by, say, 2021.


But they fund it through NGAD which in turn is also used for some sort of preliminary 6th Gen studies. I'm also quite sure the term 'PCA' never turned up in any budget material.


So it remains an open question. Until we have something more definitive, I'm going to demure on certainty with whether or not the PCA will be under the NGAD umbrella. Quite probably, but there is nothing definitive as yet, afaict.



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 02:18 PM
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originally posted by: anzha
a reply to: mightmight

Unfortunately, I don't have a current avweek subscription, so I'm at a disadvantage as to what it says. OTOH, if its like other things I've read, the USAF is talking about scaling back expectations so they can field something much faster. The question is what the AOA and requirements dox will consider mature tech by, say, 2021.




'Extended range will be a key feature, likely to allow the new fighter to self-deploy and to accompany the new B-21 bomber on deep penetration missions. Increased range drives increased airframe size and engine power Holmes [CMDR ACC] explained.'

'Stealth also will be a key requirement for the new aircraft, despite potential tradeoffs such as speed, and the advancement of counterstealth radars that some argue make stealth obsolete, Holmes said.'

'The Air Force also is looking at the weapons a future air superiority fighter might require, and how many it would need in internal weapons bays, as well as its mission systems for instance sensors and fusion capabilities, Holmes said.'



So it remains an open question. Until we have something more definitive, I'm going to demure on certainty with whether or not the PCA will be under the NGAD umbrella. Quite probably, but there is nothing definitive as yet, afaict.

Well if its not under the NGAD umbrella it has to be on the black side of the budget since the Air Force is clearly pushing forward with this. There has never been any mention of its funding being classified like the LRSB effort. On the contrary, there are plenty of publications linking the two.

Random example:

“As far as next-generation air dominance, which is what Penetrating Counter-Air relates to. We have about $500 million in the budget this year to finish an analysis of alternatives,” Carolyn M. Gleason, Deputy for Budget, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, told reporters at the Pentagon on Feb. 12. “As far as Penetrating Counter-Air, that decision really hasn't been made.”
nationalinterest.org...

EDIT

this should still be pretty accurate on the NGAD/PCA issue, also they since settled for a new aircraft for PCA:




The Air Force has been laying a foundation for a new air-dominance platform for several years. Pentagon officials in 2011 approved a requirement for an F-22 follow-on -- once pegged as a sixth-generation fighter, then dubbed more broadly as Next-Generation Air Dominance. Last summer, as part of a renewed developmental planning and experimentation effort, the service conducted the Air Dominance 2030 study, which considered what technology gaps might preclude the service from maintaining air superiority against future threats.

That study helped the service refine its vision for NGAD, according to Brig Gen. Alex Grynkewich, who led the effort and spoke at the July 12 event. Rather than view NGAD as a single platform to replace the F-22 or F-35, he said, the service now thinks of it "more as a node in a network than as a fighter or a replacement."

"It's really not a replacement for those," Grynkewich said. "It's a distinct capability that I would argue provides a key node in that network to help find and fix. . . . That node in the network could be used for kinetic effects, it could be used for non-kinetic effects or any number of things."

Grynkewich noted that the NGAD moniker is a "legacy" term that pre-dates last year's study. While the service still uses the term to label the AOA and the risk-reduction work, PCA is the specific capability it is pursuing.

"We're wrestling ourselves with the nomenclature a little bit," he said.

Coglitore noted that it's important to view PCA as one piece of a family of capabilities and not to bill it as a fighter or particular type of platform.

"Those folks who say it's a fighter, they're looking at it in an old-school way versus how we have looked at it for several years now," he said.

The ongoing AOA is seeking to define the PCA trade space and along with considering what the sensors and mission systems might look like, it is also evaluating whether existing platforms may be able to host those capabilities or whether the service should build something new to host them, Coglitore said.

insidedefense.com...

via www.secretprojects.co.uk...
edit on 4-6-2018 by mightmight because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 02:56 PM
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a reply to: anzha

From my limited understanding, a follow on from the F-22 must be an airborne command center.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 03:08 PM
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a reply to: Wide-Eyes

Unknown. Possibly.



posted on Jun, 4 2018 @ 03:48 PM
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NGAD=PCA



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