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

Josh_TN

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The Su-57 total order for delivery by 2027 is 70+ examples, to be completed by 2027. The USAF has over 250 F-35s right now. I consider air superiority against Russia more a of SEAD problem, and the F-35 is the best platform in existence for SEAD once it gets SiAW/AARGM-ER.

J-20 on the other hand exists in numbers and will continue to be produced in quantity, though kinematically I doubt it is on the same level as the Su. I think in a BVR engagement, the F-35 still has an avionics advantage, and that will have to suffice.
 

ReprobateJoeshmoe

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I don't think any F-35 signatories are remotely angry or pissed off. The Air Force operates two fighter types, a light weight and heavy fighter. The F-35 is the light weight fighter and eventual F-16 replacement. NGAD is a heavy fighter and more likely to replace the F-15 and potentially the F-22.
Isn’t the Air Force planing to keep the f-16 and the f-15ex until 2048?

The new F-15s sure, but I assume the F-16 fleet is very tired? When is the last time USAF bought a new one?
I read a drive article sometime back that they were planning a slep program for 300 of them.
 

dark sidius

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The Su-57 total order for delivery by 2027 is 70+ examples, to be completed by 2027. The USAF has over 250 F-35s right now. I consider air superiority against Russia more a of SEAD problem, and the F-35 is the best platform in existence for SEAD once it gets SiAW/AARGM-ER.

J-20 on the other hand exists in numbers and will continue to be produced in quantity, though kinematically I doubt it is on the same level as the Su. I think in a BVR engagement, the F-35 still has an avionics advantage, and that will have to suffice.
SEAD mission can be done in quantity by futur B-21 instead of squadrons of F-35 needing a lot of refueling, having F-35 quantity don't realy give superiority in fact with a lot of anti air missile like S-400 and futur S-500. For another part of missions like air superiority avionics is a advantage but you still need kinematic, high ceiling, speed and long range. Catching stealth SU-57 or J-20 flying mach 1.5/2 at flight level 60 with an interceptor flying great max 1.6 at flight level 50 , I have a doubt about who win.. I m a USAF loving but since 2009 mistake was made. F-35 is eating Defense budget for decades and it arrive ten years to late, it is not in a full production 10 years later.
 

ReprobateJoeshmoe

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The Su-57 total order for delivery by 2027 is 70+ examples, to be completed by 2027. The USAF has over 250 F-35s right now. I consider air superiority against Russia more a of SEAD problem, and the F-35 is the best platform in existence for SEAD once it gets SiAW/AARGM-ER.

J-20 on the other hand exists in numbers and will continue to be produced in quantity, though kinematically I doubt it is on the same level as the Su. I think in a BVR engagement, the F-35 still has an avionics advantage, and that will have to suffice.
SEAD mission can be done in quantity by futur B-21 instead of squadrons of F-35 needing a lot of refueling, having F-35 quantity don't realy give superiority in fact with a lot of anti air missile like S-400 and futur S-500. For another part of missions like air superiority avionics is a advantage but you still need kinematic, high ceiling, speed and long range. Catching stealth SU-57 or J-20 flying mach 1.5/2 at flight level 60 with an interceptor flying great max 1.6 at flight level 50 , I have a doubt about who win.. I m a USAF loving but since 2009 mistake was made. F-35 is eating Defense budget for decades and it arrive ten years to late, it is not in a full production 10 years later.
What do you suppose they do. The f-35 is a awesome plane but it has a short range and speed. This wouldn’t be such a large problem if we had at least 100 more raptors.
 

Flyaway

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The Su-57 total order for delivery by 2027 is 70+ examples, to be completed by 2027. The USAF has over 250 F-35s right now. I consider air superiority against Russia more a of SEAD problem, and the F-35 is the best platform in existence for SEAD once it gets SiAW/AARGM-ER.

J-20 on the other hand exists in numbers and will continue to be produced in quantity, though kinematically I doubt it is on the same level as the Su. I think in a BVR engagement, the F-35 still has an avionics advantage, and that will have to suffice.
SEAD mission can be done in quantity by futur B-21 instead of squadrons of F-35 needing a lot of refueling, having F-35 quantity don't realy give superiority in fact with a lot of anti air missile like S-400 and futur S-500. For another part of missions like air superiority avionics is a advantage but you still need kinematic, high ceiling, speed and long range. Catching stealth SU-57 or J-20 flying mach 1.5/2 at flight level 60 with an interceptor flying great max 1.6 at flight level 50 , I have a doubt about who win.. I m a USAF loving but since 2009 mistake was made. F-35 is eating Defense budget for decades and it arrive ten years to late, it is not in a full production 10 years later.
What do you suppose they do. The f-35 is a awesome plane but it has a short range and speed. This wouldn’t be such a large problem if we had at least 100 more raptors.
Well the US might have had these if the politicians hadn’t decided to stop it being exported, and therefore effectively killed the program.

If they do it again with this program then that’s good news for others developing alternative sixth generation programs such as the U.K. and associates.
 

dark sidius

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The Su-57 total order for delivery by 2027 is 70+ examples, to be completed by 2027. The USAF has over 250 F-35s right now. I consider air superiority against Russia more a of SEAD problem, and the F-35 is the best platform in existence for SEAD once it gets SiAW/AARGM-ER.

J-20 on the other hand exists in numbers and will continue to be produced in quantity, though kinematically I doubt it is on the same level as the Su. I think in a BVR engagement, the F-35 still has an avionics advantage, and that will have to suffice.
SEAD mission can be done in quantity by futur B-21 instead of squadrons of F-35 needing a lot of refueling, having F-35 quantity don't realy give superiority in fact with a lot of anti air missile like S-400 and futur S-500. For another part of missions like air superiority avionics is a advantage but you still need kinematic, high ceiling, speed and long range. Catching stealth SU-57 or J-20 flying mach 1.5/2 at flight level 60 with an interceptor flying great max 1.6 at flight level 50 , I have a doubt about who win.. I m a USAF loving but since 2009 mistake was made. F-35 is eating Defense budget for decades and it arrive ten years to late, it is not in a full production 10 years later.
What do you suppose they do. The f-35 is a awesome plane but it has a short range and speed. This wouldn’t be such a large problem if we had at least 100 more raptors.
Well the US might have had these if the politicians hadn’t decided to stop it being exported, and therefore effectively killed the program.

If they do it again with this program then that’s good news for others developing alternative sixth generation programs such as the U.K. and associates.
I don't understand why the F-35 have so much support by politics instead of the lots of problems on it , its abble to do lot of missions but not be the better in a lot.
 

TomcatViP

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F-35 is a game changer. It recently changed the face of the ME, even, if you read under the line, turning null and void and entire international agreement around nuclear weapons.
Even if you are a politician that don't know anything about aerospace, that thing for sure appeals to you.
 

Firefinder

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Corruption along with a dollop of incompetence, plain and simple.
ALso the fact that the F22 is very much a one trick pony.

AKA Air Superiority and that it for that air frame.

Sure it can drop a set of bombs, but the F35 can do heavier bombs AND carry a set of AMRAAMs while stealthed AT LONGER RANGE.

The F22 is a good plane, problem was it came at the wrong time (peace divided) in a far too of a specialized, and limited role to excel like it should.

The F35 does have more range then the two PRIMARY PLANES it replaces.

The F16 without drop and CFT has a max combat range of 340 miles give or take twenty miles.

While the FA18 hornets in similar set ups are barely better at 390 miles combat range.

Compare to the F35b, the VTOL Lightning, the version with the worse range of the lot, Has 500 miles...

The other two versions are pushing 670 miles, basically 200 to 300 miles more range clean. And the F35 clean means 6 AIM120s or 2 Aim120s and two 2000 pound bombs in the damn bays.

OH and the F22 clean subsonic full endurance mode, maxs out at 590 miles in radius with supercruise dropping it down to 460.

Again this is the COMBAT radius.

AKA can go from the target, bugger around, and come back in this distance with an useful load without tanker support.

And the F35a/cs have more range the most of the fighters types in the FORCE! The only one that has more are the F-15E/EXs at about 880 miles.

Honestly the speed can be fix by adding a proper intake ramps instead of those speed bumps so it can properly use the full power of the engine, then it have some proper get up and go.
 

Josh_TN

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Corruption along with a dollop of incompetence, plain and simple.

The kinematic deficiencies are derived by including the Marines in the program. The requirement that it fit on a amphib deck elevator set a maximum on length and combined with the range requirements made the aerodynamics suffer. The STOVL requirement also limited to it one engine, though I'd argue airframe shape was the bigger liability.

ETA: the mediocre acceleration and top speed aside, the avionics are obviously world class and everyone is rushing to become part of the program.
 

Colonial-Marine

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From my limited understanding it seems that if Lockheed was able to use the delta wing configuration they originally wanted the length limitations imposed by the USMC's requirements wouldn't have had as much an impact. So perhaps the addition of a CATOBAR variant for the USN at a later stage is more to blame for lackluster performance in those areas than the USMC's involvement.

Alternatively I suppose the CTOL and CATOBAR variants could have had a stretched fuselage but "commonality" was the favorite buzzword of the day.
 

Antonio

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sferrin

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Corruption along with a dollop of incompetence, plain and simple.

The kinematic deficiencies are derived by including the Marines in the program. The requirement that it fit on a amphib deck elevator set a maximum on length and combined with the range requirements made the aerodynamics suffer. The STOVL requirement also limited to it one engine, though I'd argue airframe shape was the bigger liability.

ETA: the mediocre acceleration and top speed aside,
Compared to what? In what condition?
 

Flyaway

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The House and Senate authorizers keep a careful eye on the service’s plans for developing a six-generation fighter under the Next-Generation Air Dominance program, via the Digital Century Series approach championed by Air Force acquisition czar Will Roper. The agreed NDAA draft would cut $70 million from the Air Force’s $1 billion request, and “requires the Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation to conduct an in depth cost, risk, and affordably review on Air Force plans to develop and field the Next Generation Air Dominance aircraft under an aggressive and uncertain plan known as the Digital Century Series Aircraft Acquisition Strategy.”

 

dark sidius

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The things going in the right direction, more F-35 A , fully fund B-21 and near of 1 billion for NGAD , the 70 millions cut can easyli be replace by 70 millions of black budget. USAF is realy taking is better place for the 21 century, politicians look to be realy lover of the B-21 , impatient to see the roll out of it , B-21 must be a game changer when we see the support on it. First time than a new bomber have a lot of support.
 

In_A_Dream

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The things going in the right direction, more F-35 A , fully fund B-21 and near of 1 billion for NGAD , the 70 millions cut can easyli be replace by 70 millions of black budget. USAF is realy taking is better place for the 21 century, politicians look to be realy lover of the B-21 , impatient to see the roll out of it , B-21 must be a game changer when we see the support on it. First time than a new bomber have a lot of support.
It's because America needs to produce something publicly to send a signal to the Chinese.
 

rooster

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The things going in the right direction, more F-35 A , fully fund B-21 and near of 1 billion for NGAD , the 70 millions cut can easyli be replace by 70 millions of black budget. USAF is realy taking is better place for the 21 century, politicians look to be realy lover of the B-21 , impatient to see the roll out of it , B-21 must be a game changer when we see the support on it. First time than a new bomber have a lot of support.
It's because America needs to produce something publicly to send a signal to the Chinese.
The combined air forces of the US are depleted and old enough to wear vintage license plates if they were cars.
 

robunos

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As long as they don't call it 'MAX' . . .

cheers,
Robin.
 

sferrin

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Maybe they could call it the "Pilot's Associate".
I'll bet they nickname it "mother."
It was a joke. The ATF (YF-22/YF-23) was supposed to get something like this and it was called the "pilot's associate".

"Boeing Military Systems became engaged in the advancement of decision aiding for aircraft flight systems in the early 1990’s starting with the Pilot’s Associate Program for tactical fighters and later more extensively with the Rotorcraft Pilot’s Associate (RPA). These early concept definition programs demonstrated the effectiveness of Cognitive Decision Aiding System implementations as an aid to the human in the cockpit. This technology evolved into more advanced Boeing projects including Airborne Manned/Unmanned System Technology Demonstration, Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems, and Future Combat Systems. New technologies and methods traditionally advance through a set of defined measures known as Technical Readiness Levels (TRL) before they are considered viable, safe, cost effective, and mature enough that they can be integrated onto an operational military aircraft. This chapter will focus on RPA to illustrate the importance of simulation and technology demonstration during early concept definition (i.e., low TRL levels) to assure potential customers of the concept’s operational applicability and technical readiness; in addition to providing risk reduction for future integration."

Thought I'd heard the term generically earlier than that.

"The Pilot's Associate program, a joint effort of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the US Air Force to build a cooperative, knowledge-based system to help pilots make decisions is described, and the lessons learned are examined. The Pilot's Associate concept developed as a set of cooperating, knowledge-based subsystems: two assessor and two planning subsystems, and a pilot interface. The two assessors, situation assessment and system status, determine the state of the outside world and the aircraft systems, respectively. The two planners, tactics planner and mission planner, react to the dynamic environment by responding to immediate threats and their effects on the prebriefed mission plan. The pilot-vehicle interface subsystem provides the critical connection between the pilot and the rest of the system. The focus is on the air-to-air subsystems."
 

TomS

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I knew it sounded familiar but I thought it was a Stealth reference or something.
 

NeilChapman

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The things going in the right direction, more F-35 A , fully fund B-21 and near of 1 billion for NGAD , the 70 millions cut can easyli be replace by 70 millions of black budget. USAF is realy taking is better place for the 21 century, politicians look to be realy lover of the B-21 , impatient to see the roll out of it , B-21 must be a game changer when we see the support on it. First time than a new bomber have a lot of support.

This may be the last thing they're (current Congress) is able to do for them. What will be interesting is next years NDAA. I don't hold out much hope for continued defense budgets such as these. B-21 will be fully funded of course. But NGAD, we'll shall see what we shall see.
 

helmutkohl

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catching up here.. is the USAF and USN 6th gen programme different? in which they will get different fighters?
 

Dragon029

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catching up here.. is the USAF and USN 6th gen programme different? in which they will get different fighters?
Yes, although quite confusingly, both the USAF and USN have programs (which to reiterate, are completely separate from one another) called NGAD (Next Generation Air Dominance).

The USAF's NGAD is a system of systems kind of program, and has previously included a sub-program called PCA (Penetrating Counter Air), though it's my understanding that Will Roper's Digital Century Series effort may have (at least from an administrative / bureaucratic standpoint) replaced it. Either way, the USAF's NGAD program is developing at least one next-gen fighter, and has other additional anti-air efforts wrapped into it (for example, I wouldn't be surprised if the AIM-260 JATM has some programmatic relation to NGAD, or even gets partial funding from NGAD).

The USN's NGAD only started in earnest recently, with NAVAIR creating their NGAD program office in August 2020. Previously though the USN has done studies into next-gen fighters, with concepts such as "F/A-XX". Not as much is known about the Navy's NGAD program due to how new it is, but earlier forecasts did suggest that it may also become a system of systems program like the USAF's NGAD, although due to the more limited funding, even if the USAF / Roper's Digital Century Series stays on track, I don't expect the Navy to take the same approach.
 

bring_it_on

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It does appear that the USAF is way ahead though back in the last administration the plan was to leverage DARPA funding to develop and produce demonstrators for both the USAF and USN requirements. The USAF program has already spent upwards of $1.5 Billion on Resesarch and Development for the program so far (excluding adaptive engine funding and any classified funding) while the Navy has just spent enough to probably have set up a program office and conduct an AoA. Obviously there could have been supporting efforts also funded through the DARPA classified budget as was initially planned under the Aerospace Innovation Initiative.

On the FY21 funding, Congress trimmed 70 Million from NGAD (from a $1 Bn ask) but boosted the adaptive engine efforts by $30 or so million so the net impact on the overall program was rather miniscule. Not all modernization RDT&E programs had the same luck. ABMS for example literally got butchered. NGAD seems to have more support possibly because hardware is flying on the air-vehicle side and prototypes for the engine are currently being fabricated so there is visible activity that is resulting in risk reduction.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_4KSE0WrAo
 

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TomS

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although due to the more limited funding, even if the USAF / Roper's Digital Century Series stays on track, I don't expect the Navy to take the same approach.

If the Digital Century idea of rapid iteration does work, though, it might make sense for the Navy to adopt the methodology and run a couple of iterations to develop a stable deployed aircraft design for carrier use. It would be like the way NATF was supposed to relate to ATF but with a development framework actually intended to rapidly iterate airframes around a core set of electronics and engines.

OTOH, the "Ifs" in the above sentences are doing a huge amount of work...
 

Sundog

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What about a core airframe ?
That doesn't make any sense due to the vastly different mission sets required by the USAF and the US Navy. It was a mistake on the F-35 that the Aerospace Industry and pentagon had to relearn. Can it be made to work? Yes. Is it the optimum solution? No.
 

bring_it_on

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There are going to be very different programs just given funding levels and available budgets. The Navy doesn't have a ton of money to support a very large R&D program. Yet it still needs to replace hundreds of Super Hornets and Growlers starting mid to late 2030s. They would consider themselves lucky if they can develop a twin engined fighter with roughly F-35 level of stealth but longer legs and payload. The US Air Force probably needs something well beyond that.
 

trose213

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although due to the more limited funding, even if the USAF / Roper's Digital Century Series stays on track, I don't expect the Navy to take the same approach.

If the Digital Century idea of rapid iteration does work, though, it might make sense for the Navy to adopt the methodology and run a couple of iterations to develop a stable deployed aircraft design for carrier use. It would be like the way NATF was supposed to relate to ATF but with a development framework actually intended to rapidly iterate airframes around a core set of electronics and engines.

OTOH, the "Ifs" in the above sentences are doing a huge amount of work...

Yes, if they're still flying fighters.
 

Dragon029

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although due to the more limited funding, even if the USAF / Roper's Digital Century Series stays on track, I don't expect the Navy to take the same approach.
If the Digital Century idea of rapid iteration does work, though, it might make sense for the Navy to adopt the methodology and run a couple of iterations to develop a stable deployed aircraft design for carrier use.
The contradiction of a stably deployed design and multiple iterations / airframes is why I don't think the Navy will take the same approach.

If Roper suddenly had unlimited funding, his idea would be to do something along the lines of fighter jet natural selection - have multiple prime contractors producing multiple aircraft designs; any that run into major budgetary or schedule problems would get cancelled (because there were others in development / in service), and those that provide excellent bang-for-buck would have orders increased, etc. Those that make it to IOC but fall behind would have limited production lines and might only stay in service for (eg) 15 years before being retired.

It's a nice concept for developing the best fighters, and it does present some opportunities for localised cost reduction, but overall it'd have to be an expensive venture, even if you're making efforts to (eg) recycle and share sub-systems like engines, EO/IR sensors, etc between designs.

Edit:
The Navy meanwhile (as bring_it_on mentioned) is going to have a hard enough time fully funding a proper Super Hornet replacement. I personally don't see the Digital Century Series happening at all (Roper's about to leave office and few [regardless of political leaning or administration] would be willing to take on a project as ambitious as this), though it might be more viable to apply to more scope-limited unmanned systems; you might not get a diverse fleet of 6th gen fighters, but you might get some rapid UAS development, especially in the software front.
 
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Josh_TN

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It seems to me the USN could easily have a diverse portfolio of UAVs if it wanted to. It will already have one platform available soon and I would think the X-47B could easily provide another that could rapidly be developed. But the USN will require some kind of core manned fighter platform that handles the interceptor mission, and this is rather different than the USAFs air dominance requirement.
 

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marauder2048

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It's not really an apt analogy; there's no need for physical prototype cars in F1 because they
typically just use this year's (prototype) components on last year's car.
 
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