USAF/US NAVY 6th Generation Fighter Programs - F/A-XX, F-X, NGAD, PCA

Matej

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Boeing is touting an even newer version of its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet that, paired with an advanced sixth-generation fighter in the works at the company, would give customers what Boeing deems a better package of capabilities than Lockheed Martin's combination of the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The idea is that customers could buy 4.5 generation Super Hornets (perhaps 4.75 generation with the planned extra forward stealth and extra range of Block 3 aircraft) and then switch to a new, sixth generation faster than if they bought the fifth generation Joint Strike Fighter. 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.

"The [Navy] C-version of the F-35 doesn't buy you a lot that the Super Hornet doesn't provide," says Bob Gower, Boeing's vice president for F/A-18 and EA-18G programs. "Our strategy is to create a compelling reason for the services to go to the next [sixth] generation platform. How do you bridge F/A-18E/F to get us there? 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."

Another part of Boeing's argument is that the "Navy is comfortable with the Super Hornet against the highest [enemy] threat through 2024, with the [improved] capabilities we have in the flight plan," Gower says. "The ability to counter the threat gets you to about the point that [Boeing's] sixth generation is available."

It's part of Boeing's counterattack on Lockheed Martin's claim that the decreasing price of the F-22, which is now at $140 million each, will make it so attractive that Australia may reconsider its buy -- already being paid for -- of 24 two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornets. Until Australia's recent change in government, a number of U.S. officials said the government was considering a second lot of 24 Super Hornets and a six-plane squadron of EA-18G Growlers.

Boeing makes the argument that a sliding in-service date for the JSF is worrying both the Australians and the U.S. military.

"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.
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/6THG013008.xml&headline=Boeing%20Plans%20Sixth%20Generation%20Fighter%20With%20Block%203%20Super%20Hornet&channel=defense

Seems that probably we will see very interesting competitors fight.
 

lantinian

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Well, seams like a good time to bring in an old link again:
Its regarding an advanced fighter research done by Boeing. Clearly the homework was done before building X-36

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19960000737_1996900737.pdf

I doubt they will go for a completely new and never considered design if its going to be a self financed program.
It's also interesting how are they planing to protect their sales.

The new design will definitely have to be carrier capable.
 
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and probably able to take off from from a STOBAR carrier
 

Woody

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On the Flight Global website. Spotted at last week's AUVSI North America show in San Diego.

http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2008/06/navy-unveils-first-official-gl.html

Anyone reckon this is real program or just a space filler?

Cheers, Woody
 

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Pioneer

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Finally and hopefully a capable replacement for the Grumman A-6 Intruder?
The US Navy’s obsession with the F/A-18 Hornet family has put all its eggs in the one basket, while still lacking range and payload capability of a design (the A-6 Intruder) that was supposed to be obsolete! ???
 

GTX

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I believe you will find that it isn't a real proposal but rather simply a representative concept to match against the UCAS-D which is the unmanned platform. In other words, they use the conceptual F/A-XX manned one to show how much better the unmanned one will be - happens quite a bit, e.g. Boeing did it with their Sonic Cruiser a few years back (i.e. they had a conceptual conventional aircraft design of the same generation to compare against).

Regards,

Greg
 

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NUCAS wing evolution is quite close to what I've heard, so new wing/body/tail configuration is can be judged as not fan-art (in a way it's not pure imagination of clerk making another presentation ppt)
 

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F/A-XX is the US Navy's notional replacement for the F/A-18 from 2025. It has publicly stated that N-UCAS will be F/A-XX, but it has to go through a formal analysis of alternatives to determine whether that will actually be what happens. Meanwhile the Navy is thinking of cancelling the X-48B UCAS-D demonstrator to save money for shipbuilding. If it succeeds, N-UCAS will never happen.

The designs shown in Flight are merely generic designs used in mission simulations to illustrate the potential benefits of a tailless N-UCAS in terms of range and persistence. They in no way represent "real" F/A-XX designs - those are still years away.
 

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Here are the graphics from the US Navy presentation at AUVSI. Basically they show how long each of the four designs can stay on station over the target area with the carrier 500nm off shore, or 1,500nm to stay out of range of ballistic missiles (the scenario is a US favourite, war against China).
 

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GTX

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Meanwhile the Navy is thinking of cancelling the X-48B UCAS-D demonstrator to save money for shipbuilding.
I think you might mean the X-47B rather than X-48B. Hopefully they won't cancel the UCAS program - it has been though enough already when you go to the start with the X-45. Plus they're so close now.

Regards,

Greg
 

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New images of Boeing F/A-XX concepts from Darryl W. Davis (President, Boeing's IDS Advanced Systems) report maiden at Farnborough, 2008 in July.
X-45C and Lockheed/Boeing NGB family shapes are apparent.

One can clue that ones posted at the top of the thread are NG concepts (I bet I've seen almost same operations charts style in NG J-UCAS ppt's).
 

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Lampshade111

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In my opinion this design should be manned, although a seperate UCAV should still be developed.

Considering the A-12 Avenger II, I am a bit wary of the tailess design, plus the alternative would probably be better for air-to-air combat.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Lampshade111 said:
In my opinion this design should be manned, although a seperate UCAV should still be developed.
Once the US Navy have the UCAS-D in service the massive increase in sortie effectiveness thanks to endurance should make it clear to even the most blighted pro-pilot perspective that their is no future for manned combat aircraft. That is even without factoring in the huge cost savings of having no need for any peactime flying training.

Lampshade111 said:
Considering the A-12 Avenger II, I am a bit wary of the tailess design, plus the alternative would probably be better for air-to-air combat.
The A-12's problems had nothing to do with having a tail or not. And in contemporary and future air to air combat (including within visual range) a tail for high G, slow speed manoeuvring is pretty meaningless. FA-XX is conceived as post F-35 (ie 2030) weapon system so will bear as much resemblance to the 1970s fighters (F-15/16/18/FLANKER/FLUCRUM) as they did to the Sopwith Camel.
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
And in contemporary and future air to air combat (including within visual range) a tail for high G, slow speed manoeuvring is pretty meaningless.
I know I'm putting myself on the line here, but I think UCAVs will make air to air combat meaningless. Rather than realizing the high-G capabilities of UCAVs, future commanders and designers will instead prefer to see the cost savings of a very lightweight, very small and very cheap semi-expendable UCAV that will forgo the extra complexity of a reinforced, stressed structure and complicated programming and instead depend on stealth, careful flight planning and its own expendability to to survive or at least swarm a target. Most "air interception" will in fact take place on the ground by attacking the enemy's airfield infrastructure, and surface-to-air missiles will take care of the rest (or stealth technology will simply make air interception difficult to impossible, once again necessitating destruction on the ground).

EDIT: And just some other thoughts I've had.


I wouldn't necessarily discount manned combat aircraft as being completely dead, but I would say that their actual role in combat would be greatly transformed and that they wouldn't take part in actual direct combat. I know a lot of future manned combat aircraft designs are designed as acting as command nodes for unmanned aircraft, which makes sense. As far as I see it, it could go one of two ways - a glorified AWACS on an airliner platform, or some sort of "super-fighter" ala F-22 with impressive sensors and command relay capability with impressive combat performance, but this performance was designed with the aim of self-defense and as more of a secondary capability. Either option would probably be equally expensive or close enough to it given the complexity of the computer equipment they carry, and either way, I would be surprised if there are more than 100 "combat" pilots/manned combat aircraft in the USAF at this time, or say more than two assigned to intra-theater operations.
 

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Graham Warwick from Ares, the Defense Technology Blog at AVIATION WEEK posted this morning the lastest Boeing concept for F/A-XX (US Navy) program.
Well, it looks much more better than "UnManned Combat Air Vehicle" posted before. The intakes look more similar to them of the F-14 than F-22. B)
2 seats and two engines, the Navy and I am proud!
But to 2025 is still a long time. :-\
{..) It's Boeing's latest artist's conception of the U.S. Navy's proposed F/A-XX replacement for the F/A-18E/F, notionally needed on carrier decks around 2025. It's described as "6th generation", but quite what that means I'm not sure - expect that it's tailless for all-aspect broadband stealth, like that other F/A-XX candidate, Northrop Grumman's N-UCAS.
I'm also not sure whether it owes more to Boeing's Phantom Works advanced designers or the graphic artists of Hollywood, particularly those that worked on the movie Stealth. But it looks more like a 6th-gen fighter than earlier impressions from Boeing.
Meanwhile don't hold your breath. The Navy is still in the early days of evaluating its requirements for an F/A-18E/F replacement. It's planning to fly the X-47B UCAS demonstrator from a carrier around 2011, and that will do a lot to shape its thinking about whether the next naval strike aircraft should be manned or unmanned, or both.
Source: Ares - A Defense Technology Blog -
Picture: Sneak Peek at 6th Gen? - By Graham Warwick at 5/5/2009 3:38 PM
 

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Sundog

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fightingirish said:
The intakes look more similar to them of the F-14 than F-22.
Actually, the intakes appear to be just like those on the Super Hornet, IMHO. An awesome looking design none the less.
 

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Article in the June 15, 2009 issue of Defense News magazine "Uncertain Skies for US Industrial Base". Paraphrased quote from a Lockheed executive - "There is a lot of design and development work going on......a lot of future programs people are looking at.....F/A-XX, a sixth generation Air Force fighter and a number of black programs that already have robust engineering work ongoing."

I have seen one picture of a tailless fighter dubbed "possible F/A-XX" but nothing on the other programs, anyone?
 

sferrin

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bobbymike said:
Article in the June 15, 2009 issue of Defense News magazine "Uncertain Skies for US Industrial Base". Paraphrased quote from a Lockheed executive - "There is a lot of design and development work going on......a lot of future programs people are looking at.....F/A-XX, a sixth generation Air Force fighter and a number of black programs that already have robust engineering work ongoing."

I have seen one picture of a tailless fighter dubbed "possible F/A-XX" but nothing on the other programs, anyone?
Take a look at Area 51 on Google Earth. LOTS of interesting stuff going on there. Definitely more than just the occasional one-off.
 

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sferrin said:
Take a look at Area 51 on Google Earth. LOTS of interesting stuff going on there. Definitely more than just the occasional one-off.
I think what sferrin means here is that there is a lot of activity - and new construction - at Groom Lake, in support of flight test programs. Not that you can see any specific aircraft in Google Earth images.
 

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I like it, I hope we see this thing flying someday. Yet I fear it will be killed at some point by some idiot politicians. I believe this, the F-35C, and some sort of UCAV attack aircraft along the lines of the X-47B would provide a very capable strike force in the future.

I have two comments however:
1: The engine nozzles look a bit strange.
2: Will the lack of rudder make it a pain in the ass to land or line up the target in a dogfight?

I don't know if Lockheed is planning anything for F/A-XX, but I would prefer to see the contract go to Boeing, seeing how Lockheed already has the F-22 and F-35.

Regarding Area 51 on Google Earth, what looks unusual there?
 

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Lampshade111 said:
I have two comments however:
1: The engine nozzles look a bit strange.
2: Will the lack of rudder make it a pain in the ass to land or line up the target in a dogfight?
yaw control is provided by aerodynamic control surfaces on the trailing edge of the wing or more likely by thrust vectoring
 

donnage99

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if you take a closer look on this pic and the one on the previous page, you notice that the exhaust nozzles are similar to the yf-23 b-2, most likely to reduce infrared signature. One question though, is that how can you incorporate fluidic thrust vectoring with such nozzle design?
 

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Here is a pic I scanned from AFA magazine. It was accompanied by a comment that it was part of a
study to determine how small changes in a control surface, when the surface was in the engine exhaust
stream, could have significant influence on the aircraft's movement.
This was identified in an earlier SPF post on the JSF as a Northrop model.
 

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flateric

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This is McDonnell Douglas so-called 'ACWFT 1024 configuration' developed under MACAIR/AFWL "Aero Configuration/Weapons Fighter Technology" (ACWFT) program, later resurrected as Model 296-2405/2406 range under contract for LARC to determine the impact of agility-based
requirements on the design of multi-role aircraft in '92-94.
 

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Lampshade111 said:
I like it, I hope we see this thing flying someday. Yet I fear it will be killed at some point by some idiot politicians. I believe this, the F-35C, and some sort of UCAV attack aircraft along the lines of the X-47B would provide a very capable strike force in the future.
I would maybe add a second, smaller UAV that could be launched and directed from a manned tactical aircraft.
 

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I thought the USN didn't like tailless deltas?

Boeing had to change the design of their JSF to include a conventional tail for the CV requirement. Always thought the X-32 design would lend itself well to the unmanned variant option, perhaps built with cheaper structural materials as a benefit of lower operating hours.

The F/A-XX looks great, in my opinion this is what the JSF should have been, a high end USN and USAF strike fighter.

The USAF low end strike fighter should have been a pure CTOL design with no CV variant and as much international cooperation as wanted. While the STOVL strike fighter could have been uncompromised by any non-STOVL requirements, the USN should have used the STOVL design if it still needed a low end strike fighter.

"What if" is great isn't it ;D
 

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flateric

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SteveO said:
I thought the USN didn't like tailless deltas?
Boeing thinks they should like tailless delta with TV.
 

donnage99

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SteveO said:
I thought the USN didn't like tailless deltas?
Technology advance! At least, that's what the contractors said. Remember that the Navy didn't dislike delta tailless design, but that they didn't like what COMES with it. If all the technology required matures at that time, I don't see why the Navy has a problem.

The USAF low end strike fighter should have been a pure CTOL design with no CV variant and as much international cooperation as wanted. While the STOVL strike fighter could have been uncompromised by any non-STOVL requirements, the USN should have used the STOVL design if it still needed a low end strike fighter.

"What if" is great isn't it ;D
Lol, if money isn't such a decisive factor, yeah sure! ;D

Concerning the vision of 6th generation fleet, my take is that, if the navy go back to take the high-low end approach, then the high end fighter will be a single seat manned aircraft, the second seat is replaced by AI assisting the pilot. I don't see why the future still needs a second seat. It's a waste of space where fuel or avionics could have been. The low end, cheaper aircraft will be unmanned. This is what I wrote about something I read on ucar in flightglobal a while back in another thread that I think fit this nicely:

"The UCAR will take it to another level by further enhancing "reasoning skills" and "team work." The human pilot will no longer control the air vehicles, but rather participate in a cooperation with them as a team and oversee their missions from a manned helicopter. The team of UCARs would be able to select among themselves a "leader" for the job, decide whether to avoid or engage threats to itself, or to sacrifice itself to protect the manned aircraft, or protecting friendly targets. As the scenarios enfolding itself, they will have the ability to switch the "leader role" among themselves and replan the missions, depend on the rules of engagement. Relay the informations it gathered back to the manned aircraft, suggest an appropriate strategy, waiting on the pilot to make the final decision. The pilot has x amount of time to approve, or it will be automatically approved. The pilot will talk to the unmanned vehicles, and they talk back, and go as far as to negociate with the pilot so that top priorities will precede lower ones. Using 5 sensors, they will be able to determine concealed and disguised targets, combatants from non-combatants, etc."

The technology should be much more mature 20 years from now, since this is planned for ucar, which was supposed to be now.
 

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flateric: Thanks for IDing the ACWFT 1024. When I saw the Boeing F/A-XX, I immediately recalled the pic I had scanned from AFA magazine.
I think there is a strong resemblence between the two exhaust nozzles. IIRC the AFA article also pointed out that they had realized
better-than-expected agility during the tests. Perhaps this is a manner in which the fluidic flow control can be used to gain greater
agility than with fluidic control alone. I'm probably the least qualified to make this observation, but I thought it might generate some comments.
 

flateric

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http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,2392.msg28243/highlight,acwft.html#msg28243

thanks for hi-res picture, BTW
 

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We have seen a lot of pics of a nominal F/A-XX from Boeing but as my last post also states the anonymous Lockheed executive also talks of the Air Force's 6G fighter. Anyone found pics or drawings of this potential program?
 

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Haven't heard anything from Lockheed, but in my opinion they already have too much on their plate at the moment?

Does anybody know what the requirements of a 6th generation fighter even are?
 

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There are none. It's not a program yet. However, there's the FATE program which studies new technologies that could be applied to the 6th generation fighter.
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,7068.0/highlight,fate.html
I personally think that it's impossible to know what shape the aircraft gonna take, because new emergent technologies whether from the enemy or from us can greatly shift the thinking behind the plane. We once thought Lockheed ATF was a aircraft with canard delta wing. It could have ended up so if not for the fact that stealth was the emergent technology at the time that no one really knew about accept in the black world.
 

flateric

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Lampshade111 said:
Does anybody know what the requirements of a 6th generation fighter even are?
 

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robunos

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Does anybody know what the requirements of a 6th generation fighter even are?
To out-perform in all aspects a 5th generation fighter, preferably at same or lower cost, I would presume....

cheers,
Robin.
 

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I would imagine most experts would agree a 6th-generation fighter may incorporate unmanned technology.
 

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I don't know about the unmanned part considering low-cost, long-loiter time, strike aircraft seems to be what most UCAVs are aiming for.

Still waiting to see a UAV with a GAU-8/A in it.
 

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Lampshade111 said:
I don't know about the unmanned part considering low-cost, long-loiter time, strike aircraft seems to be what most UCAVs are aiming for.
That's what a "6th generation fighter" might end up being. No one said it had to be an "air dominance fighter."
 

donnage99

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Well, considering navy's vision of replacing super hornets and compliment the f-35 fleet after 2020, I think air superiority will be a requirement.
 
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