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To be available circa 2024, the sixth generation aircraft would feature a combat radius of more than 1,000 miles and stealth against a much wider spectrum of radars.
We want to convince customers to stay with [Super Hornet] a few years longer -- by adding advanced capabilities and lowering price -- so that they can get to the sixth generation faster. If you go to JSF first, it's going to be a long time."
"The U.S. Air Force and Navy are now talking a lot more about where they need to go with sixth generation to get beyond JSF," Gower says. "It could be unmanned, but I think you will see a combination of missions -- some manned, some unmanned."
For Boeing, the real discriminators are going to be extended range (1,000-1,500 miles), a small radar signature against low-frequency radars, expanded awareness through connections with the network, and the ability to carry a number of bombs internally.