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

Hood

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Sounds something akin to the X-32 ad X-35 but with more of the intended electronics in it. I'd be amazed if had the full suite of mission systems already, unless there is a fair bit of adapted off-the-shelf stuff.
I get cynical about these press releases, the "records" are probably quite mundane. "Ever before" would seem a bold statement, most Great War era types were knocked up off the drawing board and in frontline hands within months. Even reading today about some de Havilland's inter-war civil aircraft, two months from first flight to customer delivery. The kind of timescales the modern industry could only dream about.

Is the subtext here that there will be no fly-off? That the eF-36 or whatever it becomes is already a done deal? If I was a better man I would say its another LM product (Boeing got TX, NG got B-21).
 

TomcatViP

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Do you realize that back then planes were mostly empty shells, test pilot attrition rate was horrendous and most in-service airframe kept crashing for years before every bugs were fixed?
 

sferrin

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The kind of timescales the modern industry could only dream about.
Light years difference in complexity. Compare the construction of a composite part with laying out and banging out a piece of sheet metal.
 

Hood

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Do you realize that back then planes were mostly empty shells, test pilot attrition rate was horrendous and most in-service airframe kept crashing for years before every bugs were fixed?
The point still stands, he said "ever before", not "within the last 20 years."
Of course there is a big difference, I'm just pointing out the historical context with tongue in cheek.
 

TomS

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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.)
I think you'd need a very different seeker than just re-purposing the Harpoon radar. When they were looking at the RGM-66F active radar antiship missile (c. 1973), the seeker was dramatically different from Harpoon -- basically a side-looking radar with some sophisticated processing to pull ship signatures out of heavy sea clutter thanks to the high grazing angle approach. Today you'd likely be better off adapting the AMRAAM seeker as modified for SM-6, since it is already set up to fly the same basic profile in SM-6's antiship mode. JAGM similarly is set up to find targets in heavy clutter from a high-angle approach, but probably a lot cheaper than AMRAAM.
 

sferrin

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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.)
I think you'd need a very different seeker than just re-purposing the Harpoon radar. When they were looking at the RGM-66F active radar antiship missile (c. 1973), the seeker was dramatically different from Harpoon -- basically a side-looking radar with some sophisticated processing to pull ship signatures out of heavy sea clutter thanks to the high grazing angle approach. Today you'd likely be better off adapting the AMRAAM seeker as modified for SM-6, since it is already set up to fly the same basic profile in SM-6's antiship mode. JAGM similarly is set up to find targets in heavy clutter from a high-angle approach, but probably a lot cheaper than AMRAAM.
Right, but both the JAGM and SM-6 seekers already exist, which is my point. The pieces are off the shelf, you're just repackaging them.
 

Josh_TN

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It occurs to me the other route they could go besides off the shelf drone designs scaled up is an F-35 with a more aerodynamic fuselage. The F-35 doesn't follow the area rule well, which I think is mostly due to the conflicting requirements of fuel for range and length to fit on a gator freighter elevator. If you stretched the fuselage you probably could get much better acceleration, cruise, and top speed out of it and keep the existing engine, avionics, and most importantly code, with the exception of the flight control software.

Though that wouldn't really be a "technology demonstrator", so I still think an unmanned platform is much more likely.
 

Bhurki

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It occurs to me the other route they could go besides off the shelf drone designs scaled up is an F-35 with a more aerodynamic fuselage. The F-35 doesn't follow the area rule well, which I
Any change in design requires a long drawn process of certification and testing, not to say unique line parts which add to maintenance costs.
As such, the best way is what roper describes, keeping most of the subsystems the same, and changing one at a time with variable designs all being virtually modified through digital twinning.
 

Fluff

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It occurs to me the other route they could go besides off the shelf drone designs scaled up is an F-35 with a more aerodynamic fuselage. The F-35 doesn't follow the area rule well, which I think is mostly due to the conflicting requirements of fuel for range and length to fit on a gator freighter elevator. If you stretched the fuselage you probably could get much better acceleration, cruise, and top speed out of it and keep the existing engine, avionics, and most importantly code, with the exception of the flight control software.

Though that wouldn't really be a "technology demonstrator", so I still think an unmanned platform is much more likely.
I like this idea - also fairly easy to hide it within a flight of normal F35, so yes it may well have 'flown' - whatever that means....
 

Fluff

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It occurs to me the other route they could go besides off the shelf drone designs scaled up is an F-35 with a more aerodynamic fuselage. The F-35 doesn't follow the area rule well, which I think is mostly due to the conflicting requirements of fuel for range and length to fit on a gator freighter elevator. If you stretched the fuselage you probably could get much better acceleration, cruise, and top speed out of it and keep the existing engine, avionics, and most importantly code, with the exception of the flight control software.

Though that wouldn't really be a "technology demonstrator", so I still think an unmanned platform is much more likely.
If we can have a wish list:

massive 'F-35' - twin engined?
Large internal weapons or fuel bay.
Good for strike and AD.
2 seats? One to fly, one to be 'network centric'?
Because the Pacific isn't shrinking....
Toilet?
 

marauder2048

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Can't imagine why you'd be so secretive about an F-35 fuselage plug.
And there are all sorts of contractual (e.g. data rights) and certification issues this would run into.
 
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Sundog

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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.
3. Advanced Flight Controls (Separate from the tailless issue); "wing warping/hinge less" flight controls. Or the porous flight control systems, etc.
 

Josh_TN

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Can't imagine why you'd be so secretive about an F-35 fuselage plug.
And there are all sorts of contractual (e..g data rights) and certification issues this would run into.
Especially as the F-35 is a very international product in terms of parts stream. No, I think whatever they built was a UAV. Cheaper materials, smaller air frame, and much less material risk.
 

bobbymike

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Obviously still pure speculation but the more articles I read I’m leaning towards an “NGAD Bird of Prey” type aircraft but with:

1) F-35 avionics
2) Advent type engines
 

TomcatViP

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But who built it? Boeing? LM Skunk works?Northrop (less likely given they have the Raider)? Kratos? SNC?
Don't tell me it's that guy from the Mach3 airforce one.
 

marauder2048

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But who built it? Boeing? LM Skunk works?Northrop (less likely given they have the Raider)? Kratos? SNC?
Don't tell me it's that guy from the Mach3 airforce one.
All of the above: "we wanted to drive digital thread adoption across the industrial base"
None of the above: "we wanted to show the industrial base and others that government owned digital thread permits non-traditional manufacturers..."
 

NUSNA_Moebius

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It really depends on what youre trying to validate with a demonstrator. The airframe and engine combo is I believe the hardest thing to simulate. Even if the engines are not ready, the airframe can be tested with already existing engines (likely F119s for supercruise validation). Let the EMDs do the job of full integration validation later on.

I think it'll be full sized and manned, at least optionally. Room for two crew would make some sense in a networked fighter acting as a drone command ship. Pack it full of AESA arrays, high electrical and cooling capacity. An "EF" designation will be pretty apt if it ends up acting like an "AWACS fighter" which is a likely course. Could let up on internal armament requirements (4x AMRAAMs/8x CUDA?) for more fuel capacity to let the UCAVs be the real offensive and defensive punch. Internal armament really would be more for defense.
 

marauder2048

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Given the present F119 engine shortage, I think the F-22 program would be loathe to spare any.
 

aim9xray

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But who built it? Boeing? LM Skunk works?Northrop (less likely given they have the Raider)? Kratos? SNC? Don't tell me it's that guy from the Mach3 airforce one.
Ummm, no. Is Stavatti on your radar? There's rumint chatter indicating that they have taken over the vast underground facility that was abandoned by something called "Project Tic-Toc". 8-P
 

marauder2048

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Given the present F119 engine shortage, I think the F-22 program would be loathe to spare any.
There is a shortage of F119s now? Did we buy anything related to the F-22 program in the quantities the Air Force needed?
They did. But they burned through the F119s at an unexpectedly high clip.

https://www.nationaldefensemagazine...idering-reconfiguring-f22-trainers-for-combat

Holmes speaks:

View: https://youtu.be/vdRY6X6Wm40?t=2645
 
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yasotay

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Surprised to be the first to post this (I think). Explains the propaganda video we have been talking about.

"The result is that every fighter program becomes existential for companies, who fight to prove that they can meet technical requirements during the development and production phase at a lower cost than their competitors." This appears to be the universal conundrum with the industrial "first tier" countries. I have to wonder if the arrival of more countries capable of producing modern fighter aircraft will change the paradim.
 
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marauder2048

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"The result is that every fighter program becomes existential for companies, who fight to prove that they can meet technical requirements during the development and production phase at a lower cost than their competitors.
Except total lifecycle cost is an inevitable part of every fighter bid since LWF...maybe even before.

Roper's approach, if you do the math that Insinnia didn't, is that if you only fly 200 hours/year and dump the aircraft
before it hits what would be the first or second PDM you save on O&S.

Well..yeah. But..I mean...wait.

It's basically NG's pitch for UCAS-D almost down to the shelf life.
 
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rooster

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Can't imagine why you'd be so secretive about an F-35 fuselage plug.
And there are all sorts of contractual (e.g. data rights) and certification issues this would run into.
This! Why be so secretive about lengthened 25 year old design? F-35 is fine for what it is but I don't think a f35xl makes anynsense for all the same reasons the 16xl wasnt pursued, I.e. a very heavy single engine aircraft. F-35already is in the same weight class as the f15.... The future of our usaf is an even heavier variant? Without rail launched 9x missiles? If that's what people are selling i am not buying. If its just a plug then we can stop building the 35a and roll right into the 35D.

The lack of photos is indicative of something that needs to be hidden so as to prevent telegraphing like fluidic thrust vectoring and tricked out ir suprrssion.
 

marauder2048

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Can't imagine why you'd be so secretive about an F-35 fuselage plug.
And there are all sorts of contractual (e.g. data rights) and certification issues this would run into.
This! Why be so secretive about lengthened 25 year old design? F-35 is fine for what it is but I don't think a f35xl makes anynsense for all the same reasons the 16xl wasnt pursued, I.e. a very heavy single engine aircraft. F-35already is in the same weight class as the f15.... The future of our usaf is an even heavier variant? Without rail launched 9x missiles? If that's what people are selling i am not buying. If its just a plug then we can stop building the 35a and roll right into the 35D.

The lack of photos is indicative of something that needs to be hidden so as to prevent telegraphing like fluidic thrust vectoring and tricked out ir suprrssion.
Slight OT but personally, I think a fuselage plugged F-35 with an AETP engine would be nearly as compelling as Lockheed's proposed
40-inch fuselage plug for the F-22 aka the F-22E.

I think the larger issue is that the opportunity for industrial base competition/health there is small beyond the propulsion suppliers
and it's probably still entangled with data rights issues since I'm sure Lockheed has proposed/studied something like it.

I don't think AIM-9X carriage is much of a concern given where MSDM/SACM/AIM-260/Peregrine are taking us.

But I totally agree with your view that what they are demonstrating at scale is sensitive enough to be worth hiding.
 
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marauder2048

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quellish

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Do you buy that: with an overlapped AoA no less, they commenced a TMRR effort that resulted in a
full scale flight demonstrator in one year?
Yes.
I believe - based on following the funding, and things I found while looking for another program - that it is/was a small-scope technology demonstrator. Not at all representative of a prototype of a productized system (i.e. not a YF-22 - no exotic avionics, existing GFE engine). More like Bird of Prey, but (I believe) as much impact as Have Blue. And not something they could hide for long. I've also seen what look like investments in other areas to take advantage of the (coming) impact of the technology.

It's like going from moveable type and hot lead to desktop publishing and laser printers.
 

Moose

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I still wish they had built the X-44 Manta.
What's the betting that the NGAD will look very similar?
Define "very." A fully tailless, blended design looks very possible, and a prototype "based on" existing F-22 structures wouldn't be all that shocking. But if they're designing for very long range, directed energy, etc I doubt many people as knowledgeable as those on this site would see it as being part of the same family.
 
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