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What will 6th Generation fighters look like?

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posted on Feb, 8 2007 @ 06:14 PM
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Hi, sorry if this threat already exists, I couldnt find it.

If we look back at the history of the F-15 Eagle, we see that the F-22 was first designed around the time that the F-15 was first put into service. I think that its safe to assume the replacement for the F-22 raptor is also on the drawing board.

What do you think this aircraft will look like? What will its capabilities be?




posted on Feb, 8 2007 @ 06:36 PM
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Let's assume that there will be no human pilot, no wings, no petrol for fuel, and while we are on it...probably look nothing remotely similar to an aircraft at all....mayba a disc or at the minimum a wing only design?????

Just some of my thoughts so far!



posted on Feb, 8 2007 @ 07:58 PM
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I'd look to the UCAV designs for clues. You can't get rid of fuel and wings but the pilot that's maybe possible.



posted on Feb, 8 2007 @ 11:17 PM
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I think that 6th Gen fighters will be reflected when we see the prototype of the PAK-FA. Apparently it'll be based around the idea of an improved Raptor. I also think a gradual movement to Canards is possible, the United States is the only country using rear-elevators-only anymore. Eurofighter EF2000 Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Saab JAS39 Gripen, all of Russia's recent stuff has canards. I'm not saying elevators aren't as good, but I'm saying that canards on an aircraft are probably going to be commonplace in the near future.

Also, I think that 360-degree thrust vectoring is going to be a big thing for a 6th-Gen. The US has tested it, Russia is actually selling it, I think it's just going to be one of those things that's just going to have to be there.

Another concept I think likely is the use of rear-facing radar and rear Infra-Red Tracking (I'm not sure on the current state of rear IR tracking, so flak is expected there). Russia's got rear radar on a fair few of its Su-27 variants and also in the longer rear-probe on the Su-47. This coupled with Helmet-mounted lock systems will probably be considered a very nice thing to have.

One thing that keeps bouncing around in my brain is the likelihood of two-seater aircraft. The Raptor has a killer radar, but to take advantage of more advanced functions I think that a second person is needed to keep the confusion while in combat to a minimum in an interceptor (yeah, I know that the Raptor is air superiority. I'm talking about the interceptor of the future, whatever it may be If you're in a Raptor there's probably very little confusion. I mean, come on. You target the enemy, uncage an AIM-120, see a little "SUCCESS" on the HUD, and everybody cheers.). The F-14 was the last made-to-be interceptor. It was to the act of interceptor what the A-10 is to laughing at tanks as they rooster tail their arses out of there. The F-15, F-16, F-18, and F-35 are all nice multirole aircraft and I'm not saying they can't do the job, but sooner or later there's going to have to be a real, straight-up-and-flying-right interceptor. Personally I think it'll look just tad like those pictures of the J-xx art we had floating around these forums a couple weeks ago.

Anyway, I'll stop ranting and raving now.



posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 03:05 AM
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The F-15 entered service a full decade before the ATF programme began. With that in mind I think it is pertinent to look at the ever extending operational lives of front line fighters since WW2.

The P-51 was the USA's primary fighter for only about four years from 1942 to 1946 when the P-80 came along, the F-86 reigned for about 8 years until the F-100 reached service in 1955. Moving along the F-4 Phantom reigned supreme for more than a decade, entering service in 1961 and being supplanted by the F-15 in the mid 1970's. By contrast the F-15 has remained top dog for thirty years, due to the fact that the aerodynamic knowledge that went into itys design has pretty much peaked, with only the advent of stealth resulting in the ability to move forward aerodynamically. All the rest of the advances have been systems based.

With this in mind I believe that there is no need to design the F-22's replacement at all as aerodynamically there is nowhere left to go until the next big discovery is made. The F-22 has been designed to take future systems developments in its stride after F-15 experience. aerodynamically it offers nothing new over the F-15 anyway so I believe that the F-22A will still be around in at least thirty years and the F-22E (for example) may still be in service a century hence, but in a much reduced and far different defensive role than at present, in a similar way to the B-52 is still a mainstay in service but in a way not envisioned when it first appeared half a century ago.



posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 03:51 AM
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Originally posted by Darkpr0
I think that 6th Gen fighters will be reflected when we see the prototype of the PAK-FA. Apparently it'll be based around the idea of an improved Raptor. I also think a gradual movement to Canards is possible, the United States is the only country using rear-elevators-only anymore. Eurofighter EF2000 Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Saab JAS39 Gripen, all of Russia's recent stuff has canards. I'm not saying elevators aren't as good, but I'm saying that canards on an aircraft are probably going to be commonplace in the near future.


I don't know this but IMO canards were always available for the ATF program but they constituted a major RCS hazard and hence were not considered.



One thing that keeps bouncing around in my brain is the likelihood of two-seater aircraft. The Raptor has a killer radar, but to take advantage of more advanced functions I think that a second person is needed to keep the confusion while in combat to a minimum in an interceptor


That is exactly what the Su 30 MKI is all about, and IMO that is what makes it a topline platform today, right up there with the typhoons,Rafales, Grippens et all.


EDIT: I'm also looking at high energy laser type point defence systems that will counter missile attacks.


[edit on 9-2-2007 by Daedalus3]



posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 04:30 AM
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Originally posted by Daedalus3
I'm also looking at high energy laser type point defence systems that will counter missile attacks.


That is what will define the next gen "fighter".


As soon as you detect something, you can kill it instantly with a DEW. So expect the current concept of fighters to become somewhat redundant unless they have extreme LO technology. [It will have to be well advanced on the F-22/B-2 etc if we are projecting +50 years or so to the future].


The size and airframe will depend on power plants and miniaturisation of lasers and their associated power sources. Expect ray shielding to be a area of development as well.


Here is a possible wind tunnel model for such a design:




posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 06:29 AM
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Originally posted by waynos
By contrast the F-15 has remained top dog for thirty years, due to the fact that the aerodynamic knowledge that went into itys design has pretty much peaked, with only the advent of stealth resulting in the ability to move forward aerodynamically. All the rest of the advances have been systems based.


Aerodynamically maybe, but material science is making large advancements in stronger materials, heat resistant materials and radar absorbing materials. All these allow advances in fighter technology, for example stronger polymers allow for much higher wing or control surface stresses opening the door to forward-swept wings and other aerodynamically unstable designs.



posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 07:55 AM
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I like all thideas presented, the canards RCS would for sure have to be considered or improved and the laser concept makes a great deal of sense.
Those things considered, the limiting factor is the human pilot factor! The aircraft can way outperform what the pilots can handle, so doesn't it make sense that they would be absent from the future designs. Also, when the above posts mention having a crew of two, imagine having a crew of however many you need sitting comfortable in a control room away from the battle. You could have multiple people performing mutliple rolls, thus maximizing the potential of the aircraft and its systems.

Anyway, just some pf my thoughts!

Peace, Mondo

P.S. The X Wing photo was great by the way, especially dear to my Star Wars heart, but I do think the Slave I is a good concept too.



posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 01:16 PM
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May look something like this in the near future.



posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 01:19 PM
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BW23,

Mission:
Mission, Mission, Mission. A 'fighter' as defined by the USAF is an aircraft whose principle defined mission is that of shooting down other aircraft. Since we haven't seen a real air war since 1982 if not 1972, the question must be not /what/ but -why- a 'fighter' must exist.
Pull the hogs nose radar. Pull the wetted area of twin tails and huge stabs, pull the gaping maw of supersonic capable 'big gulp' inlets. Pull the 9-11G requirement. And what you have left is a platform that can do the basic mission of _surveillance_ and ground attack for hours longer at half the basic weight. Weight= cost @ 1million per 1,000lbs.

Fuel:
Carbon based fuels will become ever harder to pay for and indeed may become a 'restricted to X-class' energy nations in the first world. This means two things-
1. Reducing to an absolute minimum the number of training hours required. Every mission must be oriented towards active warfighter or peacetime 'monitoring' flight. Which means a robot is better for currency purposes.
2. Shifting to new, 'multifuel' capable, systems (such as already exist in ground turbines). Almost everyone can find or grow methane under their dirt. Almost everyone can make hydrogen if they have the electrical generation to zap their water with.
But to get there from here means changing the specs on how fuel is stored in what phase and with what kinds of intercooler/cryo/pressure ratings

Signature Control:
As others have suggested, the ability to COE _avoid_ combat is critical because current weapons system shifts towards distributed/netcentric means suggests that very low value assets (UAVs, LTAs, Missiles) may allow targets to be found simply by creating so many sentries that conventional LO will not sneak you past enough of them to matter. 'Active Optical Camouflage' may still be several years out but various electroluminescent screens/sheets/coatings have already been demonstrated and when combined with a _simple_ planform (no shadow zones) and _small_ airframe, they offer some amazing potential against human detection. Gated/Polarized filtering optics are another matter but will themselves be vulnerable to dazzle if not destructive attack. I also fully expect some truly exotic capabilities like hyperspectral tracking of wakes and cued seismo-acoustic systems, maybe even the first gravity well or EM disturbance systems (as a PCLS+).

Spectrum/Info Dominance:
Even with passive or optical based systems that have low or now side lobe and secondary radint detectable means, the ability to maintain control over own emissions while supplying useful battlespace awareness will be increasingly tough to do. Yet it wil remain essential for the same reason that RFLO only really works when you don't give the enemy a specific volume of airspace o concentrate their attention to: No see'em too good only works when they aren't putting up smoke signals.
Similarly, as open ended datalink architectures continue to expand and gain bandwidth, the option to both passively exploit and actively spoof message traffic becomes an ever greater threat.
Obviously you can do things like store and burst transmit (even use a jettisonable signal source) but there will be limits to what is achievable -at cost- without integrating an AESA equivalent comms array into your CNI package, just to keep datarates high enough for increasingly large IMINT and MASINT type transfers.
The directions this can go are immense but the basics will come down to creating a viable decoy/relay survivable network. Or making the platform itself sufficiently capable as to conduct it's own mission decisions, at least to the point of cueing a remote (ballistic submunition) fires system. Which brings us to-

Weapons System Interactions:
If diode systems don't reduce the powerloading:mass requirements of DEWS down to the level of say an ECM pod by 2015, they will not go into Gen-6. At least not as 100KW hard kill. Dazzlers are forbidden by treaty and pilotage bias but this may be less important so long as they are 'not deliberately intended' to burn out more the missile optics. The increasing use of BVR tactics may also be a factor but so long as RFLO remains dominant, you can expect an increasing shift to ever cheaper active/adaptive optics channels as first adjunct and then dominant spectrum modes.
Given the extreme threat posed to helos and transports in the



posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 01:20 PM
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Of course, if you have 'partial invisibility' to surface threats, up also works. Up to 65-80,000ft lets you throw things so far ballistically that they can actually bus short and still come in quite a aways subhorizoned on their own power. Up means your S2A mechanical intercept threat is all going to be S-300 or better to hit targets a mere 20nm from the launcher. Up means that whatever you do to create a turbo-SAM for use in the 0-40,000ft range has to be completely redesigned for higher altitude work. Up means that an active optical detection network has to be able to look into a high glare index through to the 'deep blue' of a UV saturated midnight sky, even at high noon. Up means that acoustic detection no longer works at all. Up means you can /somewhat/ blackbody yourself against the directors on systems like the ABL even though you will increase your visibility to SBIRS and even DSP type sat-WACS. Of course up means a reduction in total payload, sensorization and separation values. Up means hardening your electronics against SEE is still a dice toss affair. Up means mixed performance /down/ is no longer really practical, at least with conventional materials and airframe geometry sciences. Up means isolating every pressure and fluid seal with twice the redundancy and total range. Every electrical arcing and static discharge route. Every thermal cycle and venting problem on the airframe. With near satellite threshold precision. And that gets pricey quick.
Probably the greatest driver on cost will be two fold: How you intend to get to the theater. And how you intend to operate once there. The combination of R&M = M&R driver will come together at the basing mode.

ARGUMENT:
IMO, as always and shy of a massive transformational technology like Agrav or some other field-effect mechanic, the next generation will be driven by a packaging revolution that is composed of multiple component evolutions in subsystem technologies coming together in a synergized whole. Given that this 'system prime' integration superiority has long been known to be the basis of Western and specifically U.S. 'prove everything before you package it' engineering baselines, and further given that particularly Chinas astounding increases in engineering capacity are matched by our own equivalent losses. I think it likely that getting the right combination of superiorities that are leveraged beyond an ever more compressed generational window (made possible by finite analysis and CATIA type rapid prototyping) will have to be a dynamic and diversified rather than platform fixated approach.

I think that the JSF is showing the fallacy of putting everything in one package and pretending the amalgam will be either synergistically superior or cheap as a result.

But that while the followon uninhabitteds will undoubtedly be cheaper for pulling the man, they may NOT be 'better' for sticking with a single, in-generation, approach to the way we tactically approach warfare.

Rather much more effort will have to be put into designing baseline component technologies that are equally cost-common or at least cousin tailorable/scaleable by section to a wide range of operating environments. The J57 was found on the F100, F-8 and U-2 for instance in a variety of formats. Yet making sure it produced enough thrust in a specific carcass size, weight and installational as much as performance envelope was 'pure luck' rather than deliberately averaged to a specific combination of preexistent -possible- airframe configurations.

Some talking point variables to consider:

Basing Mode:
If it's CTOL, it will have to come from a long ways. Probably at speed. With a long loiter period at end radius without refueling.
If it's STOVL, it need only heft a suitable payload margin to reach a median radius with the same loiter.
The first suggests things like exotic 'inflateable' wing skins to double or triple the fuel loading and a large delta or alternately scissor wing to maximize aspect ratio trades for Mach point at altitudes where thermal and shock effects on wing sectional thickness are not too great. Supersonic thrust recoveries from a fixed ramp inlet system may also be important.
The second would imply a generic wing design but one which could possibly require twin fan-in-wing plenum modifiers for total thrust and CG offset as well as fuel volumes and efficiencies at cruise.

Missionization By Envelope:
If the system is a high flier, sensorizing it may require aperture performance commitments at the level of present day recon systems. If it either deploys or is /fed/ RISTA data, then it is obeys the third firepower law which is to always separate your fires from your targeting. Simplifying the avionics installation and aperture cutout/weight issues to only that needed by self protection measures and data relay systems from other platforms.
If the system is a low flier, the airframe has to be much more rigid and robustly capable of absorbing and controlling dynamic air loads. For cost of both acquisition and maintenance, this may argue against extensive composite engineering even as it ups the ante for powerloading.

Reenvisioned Role-As-Configuration Modifiers:
That a 'fighter' in the missile age is no longer defined by it's performance but rather that of the weapon it carries is an obvious assumption, given that the range and speed of modern missiles keeps increasing to the extent that no amount of fighter speed will outleg a missile across increasingly broad NEZs. That a /cargo/ plane is therefore potentially a 'superior fighter' _because it can carry more missiles_ is something of a harder leap to make. Yet the fact remains that if you can fire bigger weapons from farther out and/or at lower probabilities of threat counterfire success 'with a backstop' in the form of a volume hungry DEWS to knock down those threat launches which do get close. Are you not a successful fighter?
I am not suggesting that a C-130 assume the mantel of the F-22. But what I am interested in is a broader range of scaled mission systems which can be applied to MORE THAN the conventional fighter mission which so clearly is (common missiles, common bombs, cousined carriage methods) prevalent in the F-35.
Indeed, given that the current trend to use unconventional 'sponsored not participated' warfare techniques to gain diplomatic or economic objectives continues. And further given that the aircraft seeing the largest use and the greatest loss rates are rotaray winged VTOLs (54 helos down in Iraq vs. 18 fixed wing jets). While finally it is clear that the 'followon technology' inherent to the dual post tiltrotor has serious operational vulnerabilities for a variety of tactical and aerodynamics reasons. Does it not make sense to optimize designs for specific cross-purpose roles that both need the added technology boost. And which are operationally oriented towards a possibly more survivable, post-DEW, warfare operating condition?



posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 01:20 PM
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Yes, that's what I am talking about Delta, that thing is sweet!

Good find, what's the link???? C'mon, I gotta have that link to see what else they have on that site! Very cool, of course the color schemem needs to be Navy grey but other than that it's right on!!!



posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 01:21 PM
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CONCLUSION:
As stated before, I am not stating that X must be Y. Only that for reasons of both military operational flexibility. And expanded civillian technology base portability ($$$). We need to think about not only minimizing the felt-footprint of manned presence on tomorrow's 'dull dirty dangerous' exposed missions. But also the basic enabling technologies which bring added mission flex across a wider definition of what the military mission IS than simply 'fighter, bomber, attack, blah-blah-blah'.

With netcentrics, the targeting is offboard so that the platform can be both quiet and optimally positioned through simple numbers and emphasized AAM performance. With DEWS, the engagement threshold is so long (probably line of sight for high altitude targets) that the only question is one of obscured beam propogation and proximity/IFF issues on target verification.

Thus it is more important to define how we will deploy those systems and where the threat can expect to encounter them (as a function of dedicated not common countermeasures deployment) that will define how the technology bar is not simply set (deeper into an established groove) but how it /self expands/ to increase the number of useful things that airpower can do as a releavened technology base expected to be operationally effective across a wider range of operational modes.


KPl.


JSR

posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 01:34 PM
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deltaboy

what the heck is that?!
where did that come from?



posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 01:47 PM
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I really kind of see the Raptor being the end of the line for both manned fighters and fighters in the traditional sense. Instead of one or two aircraft on a mission, I can actually see a dozen or more smaller UCAV's working together as a system. They would be stealthy (obviously), linked to each other and back to an Ops Center - basically a centrally controlled swarm that can cover a huge volume of space. Shapewise - it will probably be very similar to one of the X-45 models.



posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 03:17 PM
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Originally posted by Mondogiwa
Yes, that's what I am talking about Delta, that thing is sweet!

Good find, what's the link???? C'mon, I gotta have that link to see what else they have on that site! Very cool, of course the color schemem needs to be Navy grey but other than that it's right on!!!


That pics from a NAMCO computer game I think it's called Wipeout



posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 04:37 PM
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Originally posted by deltaboy


May look something like this in the near future.


DEAR GOD!!!! What is that???


Please tell me its a real prototype..........please?



posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 05:37 PM
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That is the ADF-01 "FALKEN" form the Ace combat computer game series. It's a really REALLY good plane in the game, it even has a TLS (tactical laser) underneath the nose cone.
en.wikipedia.org...



posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 05:38 PM
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Originally posted by deltaboy

May look something like this in the near future.


Ah yesss....The ADF-01 Falken. I was always partial to the XO-2 Wyvern, though.

Loves me some Ace Combat...need to get me AC-X for me PSP.



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