fcas sixth generation fighter

Sixth Generation Fighters: What Are They?

Intro:

When it comes to 5th gen fighter aircraft, the world knows them well. Between the ever powerful F-22 Raptor and Russia’s Su-57 or even China’s J-20, one thing can be said for certain; these (and all other 5th gen planes) aircraft are among the most powerful on the planet. Or are they? It’s been nearly 30 years since the first 5th gen fighter was produced. With today’s rapidly changing theater of war, it’s about time for an upgrade. So where are all the sixth gen fighters? I think they’re out there. In fact, I know of one that is. If you’ve been wanting to learn more about sixth generation fighter aircraft keep reading! Today’s article has all the information you need.

 

What Makes A Fighter “6th Gen”?

Before we go into what separates sixth generation fighters from all the previous generations, we first have to define what a fighter generation is. To put it simply, generations are markers for all of the major technological advancements made in the history of fighter aircraft development. So what makes a sixth generation aircraft “6th gen”?

Stealth:

One of the most likely and prominent aspects of 6th generation aircraft will be their unmatched stealth capabilities. This new level of stealth will supremely out perform the capabilities of any fifth generation fighter today. From all of the published concept art, it appears that 6th gen level stealth is to be achieved mainly by the removal of the aircraft’s tail, drastically minimizing the aircraft’s radar cross section. Better stealth capabilities will most likely also be achieved through means that are a lot more difficult for us to infer on. That being said, it’s easy to imagine that the 6th gen fighter’s will feature some sort of advanced radar absorbing material, making them virtually invisible to radar. All that to say, it can be said with a high level of certainty that 6th generation aircraft will be designed to be invisible.

Maneuverability And Capability:

Surprisingly, the maneuvering capabilities of 6th generation fighters will most likely be worse than their 5th gen counterparts. With no tail, sixth generation fighters won’t be able to pull extremely high alphas and do crazy aerobatics like the fighters we see today. But why is that? Why would any country make an aircraft less maneuverable than its predecessor? The simple answer is that, well, sixth generation fighters won’t need to be maneuverable. I presume that as the sixth generation starts to replace the fifth, we will see that 6th gen fighters are much more like aerial snipers than fighter aircraft. It’s my (and many other’s) best guess that sixth generation fighters will primarily be focused on hitting targets from hundreds of miles away rather than dogfighting them. Because of this, it would be a waste of time and money for an Air Force to develop both a stealthy and maneuverable fighter.

Artificial Intelligence:

As the world of AI starts to become more mainstream, it is inevitable that it will somehow find its way into military technology. One thing I am fairly certain about regarding 6th gen fighters is that they will have AI based weapons, taking the job of targeting off of the pilot’s shoulders. That being said, sixth generation fighters may be completely AI controlled and have no pilot at all! This is both a sad and rather cool proposal but nonetheless, a likely one.

 

Are There Any Sixth Generation Fighters Out There Yet?

You may be surprised to hear that in fact there is one known 6th gen fighter in existence. The USAF NGAD fighter. But why haven’t we seen or heard about it? Being that this is some of the most advanced tech on the planet the United States Air Force is obviously very quiet about it. That being said, we DO know that the USAF has not only built but tested and flown a full scale 6th gen technology demonstrator! Said by Will Roper: “We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it. We are ready to go and build the next-generation aircraft in a way that has never happened before.” To hear that from someone such as Will Roper (the former head of acquisition for the USAF) is astounding. There are no photos of the NGAD fighter however there is quite a lot of concept art that has been released by very reputable sources such as Lockheed Martin. As far as we know, the NGAD fighter is the only sixth generation fighter in existence and it’s not even finished! However as time goes on we will see the development and implementation of sixth generation fighters in the modern day war theater.

 

Conclusion

To sum things up, not very much is known about these elusive aircraft yet. We know for certain that at least one is in development, but that’s about as far as our knowledge goes.  The only thing we can really do is wait and see what happens. All that to say, I hope this article was informative and I hope to see you in the next one!

 

Check out my last post on how to build a home flight simulator here!

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