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

sferrin

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“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it”
If this is true, then they are certainly in "not fucking around" mode.
I will believe it when I see it. As far as we know they haven't even started on the engines. (3-stream follow-on to the F135 drop-in replacement.)
 

sublight is back

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“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it”
If this is true, then they are certainly in "not fucking around" mode.
I will believe it when I see it. As far as we know they haven't even started on the engines. (3-stream follow-on to the F135 drop-in replacement.)
Havent they had ADVENT and follow-ons since 2012?
 

Bhurki

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“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it”
If this is true, then they are certainly in "not fucking around" mode.
As far as we know they haven't even started on the engines. (3-stream follow-on to the F135 drop-in replacement.)
Testing for one such engine(albeit demonstrator) was completed back in 2017

Money has been pouring in for the last 5 years.

 

Josh_TN

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If they created a demonstrator that has already flown, I think we can assume it was unmanned.
 

doggedman

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I think the SR-72 was a concept entirely invented by LMT - just as BA had invented their hypersonic concept. Speaking with LMT, the SR-72 was not a concept that reflected an actual program. I'm just guessing, but you may be referring to the aircraft observed inflight over Texas? If so, I think those were subsonic and I don't know if those aircraft were actually identified. Also, I think the SR-72 designation follows the SR-71 which followed the XB-70 - designations given to strategic aircraft. Since that time, we've had the B-1, B-2, and now B-21. So even if there were a strategic hypersonic concept, I don't think (just my view) that it would be given the designation SR-72.
 

dark sidius

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With the Billions of black programs it won't be difficult to build demonstrators in secrecy.
 

Trident

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Read somewhere of a Martin Baker design (MB-5 maybe?) had its exhaust pipes oriented such that they produced forward thrust. (Maybe everybody did that.) Got hot air, may as well use it.
This was a common solution I believe.

A better WWII analogy for what is being done here with rejecting waste heat to the bypass stream for net propulsive gain would be the Meredith Effect (but no longer relying on ram compression before heat addition thanks to the fan upstream).

Even the transfer of this established concept to the turbofan engine isn't entirely original though, quite a few Soviet/Russian engines (NK-25/32, D30-F6, AL-31F family) have a large HPC bleed air heat exchanger in the fan duct to lower HPT NGV cooling air temperature. Granted, the engine is not used as a heat sink for other systems here, but the basic mechanism is the same (and I believe the F135 PTMS/IPP actually handles waste heat from other sources already).

I believe a similar solution (that is to say, for turbine cooling) is among the "innovations" introduced in the latest GE airliner turbofans.
 

BDF

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With the Billions of black programs it won't be difficult to build demonstrators in secrecy.
Thing is is I believe most black funding is spread out over many much more mundane programs. In any case I'm stoked to hear that we have at least some hardware in testing and its currently black. Granted we have no idea how actually sophisticated it is and could be nothing but a simple airframe. I've been skeptical (and remain so) of the digital century series but I'm starting to warm to it.
 

marauder2048

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“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it”
If this is true, then they are certainly in "not fucking around" mode.
I will believe it when I see it. As far as we know they haven't even started on the engines. (3-stream follow-on to the F135 drop-in replacement.)
Roper is slightly prone to overstatement; he really oversold the maturity of CD ATACMS for example.

And the claims about O&S savings are strange; basically you fly NGAD for no more than 200 hours a year
and throw it away after 16 years or before what would be like the second PDM for a current fighter.
 
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sferrin

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“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it”
If this is true, then they are certainly in "not fucking around" mode.
I will believe it when I see it. As far as we know they haven't even started on the engines. (3-stream follow-on to the F135 drop-in replacement.)
Roper is slightly prone to overstatement; he really oversold the maturity of CD ATACMS.
You wouldn't think that one would even be difficult. Slap a Harpoon seeker on ATACMs and call it good. (Yes, I know it;s more complicated than that, but all your lego pieces already exist.)

1600211525153.png

(Yes, I know stuffing everything in there would be a challenge, and might need rearranging, but it was a quick and dirty fit.)
 
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marauder2048

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“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it”
If this is true, then they are certainly in "not fucking around" mode.
I will believe it when I see it. As far as we know they haven't even started on the engines. (3-stream follow-on to the F135 drop-in replacement.)
Roper is slightly prone to overstatement; he really oversold the maturity of CD ATACMS.
You wouldn't think that one would even be difficult. Slap a Harpoon seeker on ATACMs and call it good. (Yes, I know it;s more complicated than that, but all your lego pieces already exist.)
Yeah. It's the JAGM seeker. And yes, it was sold like it would be here tomorrow. And you would think so.
But the Army indicates it's been delayed.
 

NUSNA_Moebius

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Whose to say the demonstrator isn't just a modified F-35 or F-22? Also, just because the airframe has flown, it doesn't mean it's packed with all the electronic 6th gen goodness.
 

Deltafan

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AeroFranz

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Whose to say the demonstrator isn't just a modified F-35 or F-22? Also, just because the airframe has flown, it doesn't mean it's packed with all the electronic 6th gen goodness.
My thoughts exactly. You could take a fifth-gen platform and stuff it with sixth-gen systems, maybe even powerplant, and technically claim it's a 'new' demonstrator because the system is more than the just the platform that happens to move your sensors and weapons around...i know, a bit convoluted but honestly i have a hard time a demonstrator of the relevant scale has been designed, built, and flown without anyone noticing things like surges of hiring at one of the primes. Usually there's telltales of these things.

That being said, if there is a brand new X-plane, i'm going to be stoked! :D
 

Sundog

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I don't know and You may be correct. But I would think that if you were correct, it would be a different vehicle. If the engine contracts were issued to Pratt and GE in 2016, it's just my view, but I doubt that funding level is sufficient to pay for engines plus flight test.
That's my question; What powered it? Were they new power plants? Or is it a demonstrator, possibly using F-119s or F-135s until the new power plants are available?
The new three stream engines are going to be testing the first "operational" configuration of the engines next year.

Also, I think whatever was flown wasn't a development of an existing design. If it was that similar there wouldn't be a need to keep it's configuration secret. I think it's a completely new design that takes advantage of the all of the advanced manufacturing techniques developed over the past two decades.
 
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marauder2048

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I don't know and You may be correct. But I would think that if you were correct, it would be a different vehicle. If the engine contracts were issued to Pratt and GE in 2016, it's just my view, but I doubt that funding level is sufficient to pay for engines plus flight test.
That's my question; What powered it? Were they new power plants? Or is it a demonstrator, possibly using F-119s or F-135s until the new power plants are available?
The new three stream engines are going to be testing the first "operational" configuration of the engines next year.

Also, I think whatever was flown wasn't a development of an existing design. If it was that similar there wouldn't be a need to keep it's configuration secret. I think it's a completely new design that takes advantage of the all of the advanced manufacturing techniques developed over the past two decades.
Per the budget, I don't think they are even ready to start NGAP airframe integration until 2022.
It overlaps with the AETP (on F-35) assessment.
 

doggedman

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Not including related program funding, they have in excess of $1B next year. Seems to me more than sufficient funding given nearly $1B last FY. I agree, this isn't an existing design and I also think you are correct about manufacturing. BA's Black Diamond program has a number of technologies that could be applicable.
 

rooster

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Whose to say the demonstrator isn't just a modified F-35 or F-22? Also, just because the airframe has flown, it doesn't mean it's packed with all the electronic 6th gen goodness.
My thoughts exactly. You could take a fifth-gen platform and stuff it with sixth-gen systems, maybe even powerplant, and technically claim it's a 'new' demonstrator because the system is more than the just the platform that happens to move your sensors and weapons around...i know, a bit convoluted but honestly i have a hard time a demonstrator of the relevant scale has been designed, built, and flown without anyone noticing things like surges of hiring at one of the primes. Usually there's telltales of these things.

That being said, if there is a brand new X-plane, i'm going to be stoked! :D
Your assuming that there haven't been previous black programs and those now idle engineers were not repurposed for this. There are a lot of ways to hide engineers being on a companies payroll.

I have a hard swallowing a f22 or f35 being called a demonstrator for ngad. What exactly would it be demonstrating? Unless the engine is a direct drop in.the f22is too rare to use. For that matter why not use a f15 airframe if you're going down the path of it demonstrating new avionics? But the USA already has a repurposed airliner it used when working on the avionics/radar for the 35. Obviously they could just use that as well.

As suspected the black world, thank god, is alive and well with god knows what else hidden away. What do you think happens at a base in the middle of a mountain range with thousands of people there? They're not just flying flankers and fulcrums.

I suspect the deomstrator was demonstrating materials and aero/stealth integration along with verifying weapons release. Something in between the more refined yf22 and the more science project yf23.

Making the demonstrator unmanned would be needlessly $$$.

The only thing more exciting would be hearing in a news release that initial productio begins in 2years.now that would be amazing for our side.

There are no photos of the alleged "sr72" sighting from 2 years ago.
 

marauder2048

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Or the demonstrator could be demonstrating how quickly and with what degree of fidelity
the design and fabrication tools permit you to fly a (presumably unmanned) fighter with a novel planform.
 

rooster

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Or the demonstrator could be demonstrating how quickly and with what degree of fidelity
the design and fabrication tools permit you to fly a (presumably unmanned) fighter with a novel planform.
That would be something implicit in whatever they built. I am an automotive engineer and manufacturing and materials selection and tooling begin with the first "napkin" sketches we get from the studio. When I think of our capabilities in white world automotive design I can only ponder how much more is done in high perofromance military aircraft engineering.

Wasnt bird of prey less an experiment in stealth than in manufacturing ? Or am I recalling that Boeing project wrong?
 

marauder2048

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Or the demonstrator could be demonstrating how quickly and with what degree of fidelity
the design and fabrication tools permit you to fly a (presumably unmanned) fighter with a novel planform.
That would be something implicit in whatever they built. I am an automotive engineer and manufacturing and materials selection and tooling begin with the first "napkin" sketches we get from the studio. When I think of our capabilities in white world automotive design I can only ponder how much more is done in high perofromance military aircraft engineering.

Wasnt bird of prey less an experiment in stealth than in manufacturing ? Or am I recalling that Boeing project wrong?
AFAIK, no tailless aircraft has flown supersonically in the flight regimes of interest to fighter aircraft.
If say Lockheed built this demonstrator on the basis of ICE and submitted both the flight perf predictions from
their tools and then went out and readily confirmed those predictions with test points that's a hugely successful demonstrator.
 

bobbymike

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Could you build a “Bird of Prey” type system to test a prospective NGAD design?
 

quellish

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Or the demonstrator could be demonstrating how quickly and with what degree of fidelity
the design and fabrication tools permit you to fly a (presumably unmanned) fighter with a novel planform.
Hypothetically, like Bird Of Prey it could have demonstrated the new rapid design, prototyping, and fabrication technologies that are being talked about as enablers for the "new century series". And the program could have been well under way or finished when those "century series" statements were made in public.
 

quellish

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With the Billions of black programs it won't be difficult to build demonstrators in secrecy.
Thing is is I believe most black funding is spread out over many much more mundane programs. In any case I'm stoked to hear that we have at least some hardware in testing and its currently black. Granted we have no idea how actually sophisticated it is and could be nothing but a simple airframe. I've been skeptical (and remain so) of the digital century series but I'm starting to warm to it.
That is correct. The bulk of the AF classified programs funding is a couple of large programs that are "mundane" - NRO, continuity of government, strategic war planning and support. Those programs are a very large amount of money but not very glamorous.
 

marauder2048

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Could you build a “Bird of Prey” type system to test a prospective NGAD design?
Sure. Being able to quickly get a high fidelity, full scale prototype means you could probably put together
a good sized test fleet reasonably quickly and cheaply; there are probably a lot of test points to cover for
whatever they want demonstrated.
Or the demonstrator could be demonstrating how quickly and with what degree of fidelity
the design and fabrication tools permit you to fly a (presumably unmanned) fighter with a novel planform.
Hypothetically, like Bird Of Prey it could have demonstrated the new rapid design, prototyping, and fabrication technologies that are being talked about as enablers for the "new century series". And the program could have been well under way or finished when those "century series" statements were made in public.
Makes sense. My intuition is that you only do a full scale demonstrator if there are..well...scalability questions surrounding the tech.

Example: you couldn't convincingly retire risk on LO propulsion tolerance of hot gas ingestion from missile exhaust without doing
missile launches from the internal weapons bay of a scale demonstrator @ speed/altitude.
 

DrRansom

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I can see 2 new technologies for NGAD that would need a specific demonstrator:

1. Supersonic tailless airframe
2. New 3rd stream engines

A new engine can be tested on a F-15 / F-16 testbed, but that would count as a demonstrator. The supersonic tailless airframe concept has to be tested somehow and this would be the perfect chance to test "digital century series" design concepts while retiring the aerodynamic risk of that configuration.
 

Dragon029

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As per the Defense News article posted earlier:

The importance, Roper said, is that just a year after the service completed an analysis of alternatives, the Air Force has proven it can use cutting-edge advanced manufacturing techniques to build and test a virtual version of its next fighter — and then move to constructing a full-scale prototype and flying it with mission systems onboard.
We’re going after the most complicated systems that have ever been built, and checked all the boxes with this digital technology. In fact, [we’ve] not just checked the boxes, [we’ve] demonstrated something that’s truly magical.”
Personally it sounds to me like they flew a new airframe with some kind of mission systems suite. Personally I expect that the airframe is brand-new, the engines are either stock F135s, or modified F135s (akin to how the X-35 / X-32 used modified F119s) and the mission systems are probably a combination of new avionics and probably just some MOTS sensors. Being a tech demonstrator there'd certainly be some planned systems omitted; I could see the radar being omitted for an air data probe and instrumentation hardware for example, but it might have an early version of the EW / ESM suite installed for example.
 

marauder2048

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The importance, Roper said, is that just a year after the service completed an analysis of alternatives, the Air Force has proven it can use cutting-edge advanced manufacturing techniques to build and test a virtual version of its next fighter — and then move to constructing a full-scale prototype and flying it with mission systems onboard.
That's a great point; the issue with the CATBIRD and other surrogates is that they can't come close to replicating
the flight envelope and concomitant hostile environment (say thermals) where these systems have to operate.
 

sferrin

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“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it”
If this is true, then they are certainly in "not fucking around" mode.
Yeah, I'll bet the "records" are something like, "less rework than ever before in an experimental aircraft". It won't be a performance parameter, or anything actually interesting. (If it's anything like NASA announcements anyway. . .)
 
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