Navy 6th Generation Fighter

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline

Corsair1963

Elite 5K

Elite 5K

  • Posts: 6893
  • Joined: 19 Dec 2005, 04:14

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 02:09

Navy Quietly Starts Development of Next-Generation Carrier Fighter; Plans Call for Manned, Long-Range Aircraft

By: Mallory Shelbourne

After nearly a decade of fits and starts, the Navy has quietly initiated work to develop its first new carrier-based fighter in almost 20 years, standing up a new program office and holding early discussions with industry, USNI News has learned.

The multi-billion-dollar effort to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and electronic attack EA-18G Growlers beginning in the 2030s is taking early steps to quickly develop a new manned fighter to extend the reach of the carrier air wing and bring new relevance to the Navy’s fleet of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

Navy acquisition chief James Geurts told reporters last week that the service created a program office for the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) initiative.

“We’re working to outline that program and the acquisition approach and all that as we speak,” Geurts said.

Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) recent establishment of the NGAD program office comes as the Pentagon faces a constrained budget environment while trying to adjust to a new defense strategy focused on combatting Russian and Chinese threats in the Indo-Pacific theater.

A New Manned Fighter

The service is moving toward the pursuit of a manned fighter aircraft that would include many of the capabilities on the F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter, but with updated technology and expanded range, Bryan Clark, a naval analyst and senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, told USNI News this week.

“The idea would be that you would take those same capabilities forward and have them be built into an architecture that’s designed around a 21st-century model. So you’d get more seamless fusion and integration of all these sensor inputs, and better ways of interacting with the pilot, and more incorporation of autonomous operations,” Clark said. “So even more so than with the F-35, you’d end up with an aircraft where the pilot is really operating a computer that is flying the airplane and operating its systems, more so than today.”

The Navy plans to seek a wholly new design, rather than a derivative design of aircraft already on the production line, for the sixth-generation fighter, despite the service receiving suggestions to combine Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and Boeing’s F/A-18 designs with modern technology for the future aircraft, Clark said.

“I think that’s not a great idea because it’s going to be inherently more costly than simply a derivative design in an environment where the Navy’s not going to have the kind of budget flexibility that it’s had in the recent past,” Clark said.

Compared to the F-35’s 700 nautical miles of combat radius, Clark said the Navy hopes to build a new fighter with a radius of 1,000 nautical miles.

Accelerated Schedule

While the service’s objective for fielding the new fighter aircraft had been the 2030s, when the Super Hornets would begin to reach the end of their service lives, the Navy will try to speed up that timeline because the Super Hornets are likely to reach their maximum flight hours sooner than previously anticipated, according to Clark.

The combination of desires for program acceleration and a new design could be difficult for the Navy at a time when the Pentagon is preparing for flat or declining budgets.

“The Navy is trying to accelerate the timeline to get to NGAD so that they can begin fielding the new airplane to replace the Super Hornets, which, … when they want a new design that incorporates what’s probably going to have to be a new engine, they’re driving the technology risk higher. And at the same time they’re going to ask for an accelerated schedule that increases the schedule risk in an environment where they don’t have additional money to cover those,” Clark said.
“Normally, if you increase the level of technological sophistication or you want to accelerate the program, you pay more for it, right, so you just throw more money at the problem,” he continued. “They don’t have more money to throw at the problem, so you’re creating challenges in all three dimensions of a new program: cost, schedule and performance.”

Pentagon and Navy officials have repeatedly referenced impending budget constraints when discussing programs and spending over the last year. In addition to those concerns, the Navy in its Fiscal Year 2021 budget submission sought to curtail the Super Hornet program and make FY 2021 the last year the service would buy the aircraft, at the end of the current multi-year contract in place with manufacturer Boeing. At the time, the Navy said it would save $4.5 billion across its five-year budget plan and put the funds toward the NGAD effort.

While the Navy has not pegged any cost assessments to the NGAD initiative, a January 2020 report from the Congressional Budget Office estimated the service could spend approximately $67 billion to replace the F/A-18E/F fleet from 2032 to 2050 and $22 billion to replace the Growlers.

“That estimate does not include the potentially substantial cost to field new jammer pods or upgrade existing ones that might be carried by a future electronic-attack aircraft,” the report reads. “For example, the Navy currently estimates that 128 Next Generation Jammer pods that it plans to buy for the EA-18G will cost about $4 billion.”

New Program Office

After the Navy wrapped up an analysis of alternatives for NGAD in July 2019, the defense secretary’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office issued the AOA’s “sufficiency” in September 2019, Connie Hempel, a spokeswoman for NAVAIR, told USNI News.

To kick off the NGAD initiative, the Navy formally stood up the Next Generation Air Dominance program office, which the service is calling PMA-230, in May and tapped Capt. Al Mousseau to serve as the program manager. Mousseau officially started the job in May, after previously serving as the program manager for the Mission Integration and Special Programs Office, also known as PMA-298.

The Navy has already begun convening industry days for NGAD, according to a source familiar with the ongoing process. Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are the three likely competitors for the manned fighter, USNI News understands.

Asked when the Navy plans to issue a request for information, Hempel said the service is working on underlying documents that would inform future steps and timelines for the program.

The Navy has provided few details in recent years as to what the successor for the Super Hornets and Growlers may look like, but the service in 2016 began forecasting plans to seek a family-of-systems approach, now known as NGAD, instead of buying one fighter aircraft, an initiative known as F/A-XX.

The family of systems approach could see the Navy going down a path similar to the Air Force’s NGAD pursuits, according to Clark, in which the Navy buys a manned fighter and uses different unmanned systems to supplement the mission.

The family of systems approach could see the Navy going down a path similar to the Air Force’s NGAD pursuits, according to Clark, in which the Navy buys a manned fighter and uses different unmanned systems to supplement the mission.

“They could say, ‘well maybe we back off on some of the requirements when it comes to weapons payload, and maybe stealth or something, but so we keep the speed. We keep the range. We keep the C4ISR sophistication, but we relieve some of the requirements in terms of how much it carries and maybe how penetrating it can be into any airspace,’” Clark said. “And we offload those to unmanned systems, so there’s this family of systems now that instead of having five F-35s go do some mission, you’d send two of these new airplanes with some unmanned systems to do the same mission.”

Because the new manned combatant would require stealth capabilities, speed, and range, carrying heavy equipment like missiles could fall to the unmanned platforms within the family of systems.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said at a forum in Washington, D.C. late last year that the Navy’s future aviation combatant could include a combination of both manned and unmanned systems, but he conceded he did not yet know what kind of platform would be used to launch the aircraft, leaving open the possibility that they could operate off of something other than today’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

Despite the Navy sketching out a plan for its new fighter aircraft, Clark argued the service still needs to contend with an adversary’s ability to use lower-cost long-range missiles to target aircraft carriers.

“The idea of just continuing to build new manned aircraft with longer ranges to try to overcome the ability of a China or an Iran even or a Russia to shoot long-range missiles at the carrier, it’s sort of a losing game because the missiles are cheap,” he said. “The airplanes are expensive. So you’re in a bad cost exchange situation.”

Combining the manned fighter with unmanned systems could help the service confront this issue.

“That may be a way to get around this cost exchange problem, where maybe the airplane doesn’t need to fly as far,” Clark said.

“You know, the airplane could go a thousand miles, and it doesn’t matter if the enemy has a two-thousand-mile anti-ship ballistic missile because your manned airplane is not going to fly that whole distance. He’s going to stop at a thousand miles and then these unmanned systems go the rest of the way.”

https://news.usni.org/2020/08/18/navy-q ... e-aircraft
Offline
User avatar

element1loop

Elite 1K

Elite 1K

  • Posts: 1557
  • Joined: 31 Dec 2015, 05:35
  • Location: Australia

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 02:31

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

F/A-XX will be evolved from F-35C, and it will kick a$$ like nothing else before it.
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
Offline

loke

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 996
  • Joined: 14 Nov 2008, 19:07

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 07:56

Big mistake by the USN.

The future is unmanned. AI will be superiour to humans quite soon, and long before this "6 gen" a.c. is ready. Once that happens you don't need the data link between a human operator and the AI, you just tell the AI what to do, and off it goes.

They are not alone in doing this mistake of course; Europe is doing the same mistake with their "sixth gen" fighter programs.
Offline

charlielima223

Elite 1K

Elite 1K

  • Posts: 1225
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2014, 19:26

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 08:25

@loke
Image
Offline

loke

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 996
  • Joined: 14 Nov 2008, 19:07

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 11:16

When will the "6 gen" platform be ready?

AI is making significant improvements every other year. Technology developed for self-driving cars can be adapted and used. Another 10-20 years and AI can do all a pilot can do, but much better and much, much faster. The US will lose future wars if they fail to jump on the AI bandwagon.
Offline

hornetfinn

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3223
  • Joined: 13 Mar 2013, 08:31
  • Location: Finland

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 12:13

Corsair1963 wrote:After nearly a decade of fits and starts, the Navy has quietly initiated work to develop its first new carrier-based fighter in almost 20 years, standing up a new program office and holding early discussions with industry, USNI News has learned.

The multi-billion-dollar effort to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and electronic attack EA-18G Growlers beginning in the 2030s is taking early steps to quickly develop a new manned fighter to extend the reach of the carrier air wing and bring new relevance to the Navy’s fleet of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.


LOL, sounds like they haven't heard about F-35C and B... :shock:

Both will definitely extend the reach of the carrier air wing (by over 50% or so vs. SH and AV-8B) and bring totally new relevance to the USN carriers. I think F-35 should replace SH and Growler first and then USN should start something to replace F-35 eventually. I think there is very good chance that this will meet the fate of A-12 and Super Tomcats. There is also huge amount of untapped potential in F-35 with AETP engine and all kinds of other upgrades.
Offline

talkitron

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 503
  • Joined: 07 Nov 2007, 10:55

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 12:54

hornetfinn wrote:Both will definitely extend the reach of the carrier air wing (by over 50% or so vs. SH and AV-8B) and bring totally new relevance to the USN carriers. I think F-35 should replace SH and Growler first and then USN should start something to replace F-35 eventually. I think there is very good chance that this will meet the fate of A-12 and Super Tomcats. There is also huge amount of untapped potential in F-35 with AETP engine and all kinds of other upgrades.


The chance this program gets dropped is certainly out there. New avionics could certainly be put on a future block of F-35C, leaving range and internal payload as the main advantages of a new, possibly lighter fighter.

I like the discussion in the original article of whether moving from a combat radius of 700 nm to 1000 nm is a losing battle when China's anti-carrier missiles have ranges of 2000 nm and China can build newer missiles more cheaply than the US can build fighters with longer range.

On the other hand, range is at the forefront of frequent cricisims of all current tactical fighter aircraft. British pilot "Sharkey" Ward's new book Her Majesty's Top Gun has a large amount of material criticizing all land based fighters for having limited range for the viewpoints of 1) defending the UK homeland against Russian bomber-launched cruise missiles, which outrage the Typhoon aircraft and 2) power projection in other regions. For the US, there is a tremendous amount of think tank commentary on the reduced relevance of short range aircraft from the Navy and Air Force in a war with China, where China is shooting its missiles at both carriers and land air bases.

For cost reasons, I would like to see the Air Force and Navy collaborate on a single carrier-capable aircraft up to the issues with fuel type and air-to-air refueling. The export sales of Hornets and Super Hornets suggest that the Air Force could make do with a carrier-capable aircraft. Both should be looking into aircraft with longer ranges.
Offline

sprstdlyscottsmn

Elite 4K

Elite 4K

  • Posts: 4930
  • Joined: 10 Mar 2006, 01:24
  • Location: Nashua NH USA

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 13:59

talkitron wrote:For cost reasons, I would like to see the Air Force and Navy collaborate on a single carrier-capable aircraft up to the issues with fuel type and air-to-air refueling. The export sales of Hornets and Super Hornets suggest that the Air Force could make do with a carrier-capable aircraft. Both should be looking into aircraft with longer ranges.

F-4 Phantom II, take two? Build a good enough fleet fighter and it can serve all services and many countries?
"Spurts"

-Pilot
-Aerospace Engineer
-Army Medic
-FMS Systems Engineer
-PFD Systems Engineer
-PATRIOT Systems Engineer
Offline

loke

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 996
  • Joined: 14 Nov 2008, 19:07

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 14:23

WASHINGTON: DARPA’s AlphaDogfight Trials, which culminate Wednesday with a simulated aerial dual pitting the winning AI F-16 ‘pilot’ against a human pilot, aims to determine the viability of relying on machines in a fast-paced, unpredictable air-to-air combat environment.


https://breakingdefense.com/2020/08/dar ... bat-chops/

THis is just the beginning... in 3-5 years people will think back and laugh at how incredibly primitive and limited the "AI" of 2020 was.
Offline

hornetfinn

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3223
  • Joined: 13 Mar 2013, 08:31
  • Location: Finland

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 14:56

loke wrote:
WASHINGTON: DARPA’s AlphaDogfight Trials, which culminate Wednesday with a simulated aerial dual pitting the winning AI F-16 ‘pilot’ against a human pilot, aims to determine the viability of relying on machines in a fast-paced, unpredictable air-to-air combat environment.


https://breakingdefense.com/2020/08/dar ... bat-chops/

THis is just the beginning... in 3-5 years people will think back and laugh at how incredibly primitive and limited the "AI" of 2020 was.


Yes, we are still on very early stages to develop fully autonomous fighter aircraft. That test is just pitting AI against a human pilot in a simulation, although highly advanced one. It will take a lot of time and effort to develop a fighter aircraft from ground up to do all the things and missions that a human pilot can do in a real world reliably. I'm sure we get there one day, but I doubt it will happen before F-35s are getting retired. I bet that first we see fighter aircraft with human pilots with more and more computer and AI assistance (like AI RIO/WSO with thousands of eyes and hands). F-35 does that today to some extent but there is a lot that can be improved and new capabilities added in the future. Then we might start to see actual pilotless aircraft but early on I think they will be loyal wingmen than fully autonomous aircraft.

I think for BVR combat a human pilot with AI assistance will be just as good as some fully autonomous aircraft. For WVR fully autonomous aircraft could theoretically have higher maneuverability, but I think that the human pilot is not the main limiting factor right now. For air-to-ground missions, I don't see many advantages in fully autonomous vehicles unless situation requires getting up close and personal or if it can improve payload and range.
Offline

loke

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 996
  • Joined: 14 Nov 2008, 19:07

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 15:36

I think fully autonomous fighter jets will happen much sooner, the reason being that there are huge investments right now in self-driving cars. Of course a jet is very different however the base technology both in terms of HW (for the "brain") and SW (advanced neural nets, etc.) will be the same. So all that is needed is to adapt existing technology (and soon-to-exist technology) to a new problem domain, no need to reinvent the wheel.
Offline

quicksilver

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3136
  • Joined: 16 Feb 2011, 01:30

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 16:04

When AI can discern ‘context’ and ‘nuance‘ in environments where we are deciding what we kill/destroy — or not — only then we should get excited.
Offline

talkitron

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 503
  • Joined: 07 Nov 2007, 10:55

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 16:42

sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:F-4 Phantom II, take two? Build a good enough fleet fighter and it can serve all services and many countries?


Exactly. Would the US be worse off if the Air Force used F-14s instead of F-15s and F/A-18s instead of F-16s, assuming equivalent upgrade programs?
Offline

wolfpak

Active Member

Active Member

  • Posts: 145
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2014, 19:26

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 16:58

I don't see a common airframe for AF and Navy NGAD's but do see common systems. Think it we will find that the performance and mission requirements of the services can't be economically met by one airframe. What I do think will happen is the AF will buy the Navy NGAD as a F-15E replacement and for use as a penetrating jammer. It all depends on whether or not the AF's NGAD has an air to ground capability greater than the F-35.
Offline

sprstdlyscottsmn

Elite 4K

Elite 4K

  • Posts: 4930
  • Joined: 10 Mar 2006, 01:24
  • Location: Nashua NH USA

Unread post19 Aug 2020, 17:14

talkitron wrote:Exactly. Would the US be worse off if the Air Force used F-14s instead of F-15s and F/A-18s instead of F-16s, assuming equivalent upgrade programs?

I would say those aren't the best examples. Both of those navy programs started off with way too little power, granted it was eventually rectified with the F110-GE-400 and the F404-GE-402. The F/A-18 developmental history would have to be altered greatly, as the YF-16 beat the YF-17. The F-15 also greatly advanced the concepts of Ps and HMI. The F-14 had terrible, 3rd Gen, HMI for the most part. IMO, it's really HMI and more aggressive and carefree handling that separate 4th gen from 3rd and the F-14 fails on HMI and Carefree. It did have the Phoenix vs the Sparrow, but sadly that missile did not do well in USN service (Mx/loading issues mostly)

The F-4 had no equal in terms of avionics capability, raw power, and payload. It was the ultimate 3rd Gen Strike Fighter.

Feel free to disagree.
"Spurts"

-Pilot
-Aerospace Engineer
-Army Medic
-FMS Systems Engineer
-PFD Systems Engineer
-PATRIOT Systems Engineer
Next

Return to Modern Military Aircraft

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 31 guests