The concept of 6th generations fighter still has to be defined. But i guess this jet fighter will have directed energy weapons—high-powered
microwaves and lasers for defense against incoming missiles or as offensive weapons themselves. Munitions would likely be of the “dial an effect”
type, able to cause anything from impairment to destruction of an air or ground target.
Materials and microelectronics technologies would combine to make the aircraft a large integrated sensor, possibly eliminating the need for a nose
radar as it is known today. It would be equipped for making cyber attacks as well as achieving kinetic effects, but would still have to be
cost-effective to make, service, and modify.
Moreover, the rapid advancement of unmanned aircraft technologies could, in 20 years or so, make feasible production of an autonomous robotic fighter.
However, that is considered less likely than the emergence of an uninhabited but remotely piloted aircraft with an off-board “crew,” possibly
comprising many operators.
Not clear, yet, is whether the mission should be fulfilled by a single, multirole platform or a series of smaller, specialized aircraft, working in
concert.The pilot will see wide-ranging, intuitive views of “the extended world” around the aircraft. The aircraft will collect its own data and
seamlessly fuse it with off-board sensors, including those on other aircraft. The difference from fifth generation will be the level of detail and
certainty—the long-sought automatic target recognition.
Fiber optics would also be resistant to jamming or spoofing of data and less prone to cyber attack. Pulse weapons could also fry an enemy aircraft’s
systems—or those of a ground target.With an appropriate engine—possibly an auxiliary engine—on board to provide power for directed energy
weapons, there could be an “unlimited magazine” of shots.
Hypersonics, has routinely been suggested as an attribute of sixth generation fighters, but the industry leaders are skeptical the capability will be
ready in time.
While there have been some successes with experimental hypersonic propulsion, the total amount of true hypersonic flying time is less than 15 minutes,
and the leap to an operational fighter in 20 years might be a leap too far.
It entails a whole new range of materials development, due to ... sensors, fuzes, apertures, etc., all of which must operate in that intense heat
environment at ... Mach 5-plus.
Because of the extreme speed of hypersonic platforms and especially directed energy weapons, it will be critical to have “persistent eyes on
target” because speed-of-light weapons can’t be recalled “once you’ve pulled the trigger,” and even at hypersonic speed, a target may move
before the weapon arrives. That would suggest a flotilla of stealthy drones or sensors positioned around the battlefield.
Not only will hypersonics require years more work, it must be combined with other, variable-cycle engines that will allow an aircraft to take off from
sea level, climb to high altitude, and then engage a hypersonic engine. Those enabling propulsion elements are not necessarily near at hand in a
edit on 21-1-2012 by Militarywarfare because: (no reason given)