Navy 6th Generation Fighter

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

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Unread post07 Sep 2020, 03:15

element1loop wrote:A small stealth fighter like F-117A, for instance, was not festooned with radar panels, it was all about passive sensing, because, get this, it's a passive stealth fighter.

Likewise, F-35 is heavily biased towards very long-range passive sensing and targeting (somethign the much larger F-22A is not so ideal for), plus near real time networked regional air-picture, and a surround-vision IRST array that nothing can match so far.

Both are tiny, because, get this, they're both stealth fighters, and smaller size means lower RCS signatures from more angles or incidence, compared to a larger stealth aircraft.


I wouldn't call either of them small. The F-117 is roughly the same size as an F-15 or F-22.
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Unread post07 Sep 2020, 03:54

wolfpak wrote:I still maintain that the F-35C is a light attack jet. It has only one engine and fills the roles of the previous light attack jets. It is being assigned to the units that historically had that mission. Even the modexes are 3XX and 4XX. The 340 or so aircraft being bought equates to 2 squadrons per carrier no more. Would have thought by now if it was to be the main fighter in the air wings you would see them at least plan to have a few traditional fighter units like VFA-31 or VFA-2 equip with them? Both medium attack, A-6 and heavy attack, A-3 and A-5 had two engines.

What's interesting is that I have yet to see in any L-M or Navy charts, graphics, etc. depict the F-35C (or the F-35B for that matter) performing the Deck Launch Intercept or BAR CAP missions? Usually someone publishes a mission profile graphic that shows radius of action, loiter time, fly out speed, etc.. Nor have I seen any photos of Beast loadouts of AIM-120's like those you have seen on F/A-18C/D's, F/A-18E/F's, F-15C's on actual aircraft. I don't think the number of AIM-120's per external station has even been defined?

The problem the Navy faces is that our adversaries will have the capability to launch carrier killing weapons from bomber aircraft similar to the threat that resulted in the F-14 and Phoenix. We will need a larger fighter like the Tomcat or Phantom that can either launch and supercruise to an intercept point or remain on station long enough to shoot down threats before they get near the battle group.

The F-35 was conceived and built after the demise of the Soviet Union when it was thought that the air intercept mission was gone and the Aegis system would provide all the defensive capability the CBG would need. Now we face a threat that can outrange the Aegis system by using bombers (H-6) to launch long range antishipping missiles which may be by the 2030's hypersonic ones. The imperative is to kill the bomber before it launches them. To this end we'll need a fighter with better kinetic and radar performance than the F-35 possesses. Combat radius will need to exceed the standoff range of the cruise missiles launched from the enemy's bombers.


The F-35C is not a "Light Attack Aircraft". It is a mid-sized multirole Strike Fighter. Which, is common among current tactical fighters.........
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michaelemouse

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Unread post07 Sep 2020, 06:47

element1loop wrote:A small stealth fighter like F-117A, for instance, was not festooned with radar panels, it was all about passive sensing, because, get this, it's a passive stealth fighter.

Likewise, F-35 is heavily biased towards very long-range passive sensing and targeting (somethign the much larger F-22A is not so ideal for), plus near real time networked regional air-picture, and a surround-vision IRST array that nothing can match so far.

Both are tiny, because, get this, they're both stealth fighters, and smaller size means lower RCS signatures from more angles or incidence, compared to a larger stealth aircraft.

Now tell me (provide an answer this time, even if it's "none that I can determine"), which US or Western strikefighter has a larger fully fueled weapons payload than F-35C?

Could you please also layout what tactical A2A and A2G areas the F-35A/C is impaired or allegedly inferior, to with respect to your alternative more ideal and larger stealth fighter option? Preferably one that doesn't constantly pour RF energy into the airspace and act as a missile magnet.



The F-117 wasn't a fighter at all. Passive detection and targeting of enemy aircraft requires them to be emitting and for those emissions to be detected and tracked reliably. It also doesn't allow you to discriminate between targets because decoys and different types of real targets can emit the same patterns. If you're relying on passive targeting to guide a missile and the target stops emitting, the missile is no longer guided.

I was under the impression that shape matters much more than size when it comes to RCS.
Last edited by michaelemouse on 07 Sep 2020, 11:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post07 Sep 2020, 07:10

wolfpak wrote:I still maintain that the F-35C is a light attack jet. It has only one engine


.. .which has more thrust than the two engines of F-4 or Eurofighter Typhoon together.

Calling it "light" because of the NUMBER of engines is really ignorant and stupid.

And calling it as a "attack jet" is evern more ignorant when it's one of the two most capable air-to-air platforms that exist.

The problem the Navy faces is that our adversaries will have the capability to launch carrier killing weapons from bomber aircraft similar to the threat that resulted in the F-14 and Phoenix. We will need a larger fighter like the Tomcat or Phantom that can either launch and supercruise to an intercept point or remain on station long enough to shoot down threats before they get near the battle group.


Unlike F-18, F-35C has quite good loiter time.

The F-35 was conceived and built after the demise of the Soviet Union when it was thought that the air intercept mission was gone and the Aegis system would provide all the defensive capability the CBG would need.


Wrong.

F-35C with AIM-120D or AIM-260 is MUCH better interceptor than F-14 ever was.

Now we face a threat that can outrange the Aegis system by using bombers (H-6) to launch long range antishipping missiles which may be by the 2030's hypersonic ones. The imperative is to kill the bomber before it launches them. To this end we'll need a fighter with better kinetic and radar performance than the F-35 possesses.


F-35 has excellent radar. Kinetic performance of F-35C can be improved by improving the engine.
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Unread post07 Sep 2020, 10:56

Its not whether the F-35 is a good plane but whether a twin F-135 engined fighter can do far more. The advantages may clear from a AF angle. However, from a navy angle, I wonder whether issues like cats limitation on MTOW may play a part to decide if such a fighter actually materializes?
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Unread post07 Sep 2020, 16:55

weasel1962 wrote:Its not whether the F-35 is a good plane but whether a twin F-135 engined fighter can do far more. The advantages may clear from a AF angle. However, from a navy angle, I wonder whether issues like cats limitation on MTOW may play a part to decide if such a fighter actually materializes?


Two F135's don't make much sense for the navy.

F135 is simply a way too big and powerful engine for a twin-engined carrier-based fighter. An otherwise sensible plane using two F135s would be just too big for aircraft carriers, which have limited hangar space and limitations on their catapult power.

Two F135's would give insane amount of
1) Afterburning thrust (wasting insane amount of fuel)
2) Static/low-speed dry thrust.

However, F135 just is not a good engine for supercruise due to it's relatively high bypass ratio.

It needs a LOT of air, meaning big draggy intakes.

If the need for more thrust over F-35 is to have better supercruise, then an engine(s) with smaller bypass ratio would be needed, either:

* Two F119s/F-119 derivates, for a quite big plane
* Two F414-EPE's , for a plane which is only marginally bigger than F-35C.
* One new engine, which has similar overall size than F135 but bigger core and smaller bypass ratio, for plane which is only marginally bigger than F-35C.
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milosh

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Unread post07 Sep 2020, 17:16

hkultala wrote:Two F135's don't make much sense for the navy.

F135 is simply a way too big and powerful engine for a twin-engined carrier-based fighter. An otherwise sensible plane using two F135s would be just too big for aircraft carriers, which have limited hangar space and limitations on their catapult power.

Two F135's would give insane amount of
1) Afterburning thrust (wasting insane amount of fuel)
2) Static/low-speed dry thrust.

However, F135 just is not a good engine for supercruise due to it's relatively high bypass ratio.


F135 is (maybe I wrong) smaller then TF30. So F-14 size aircraft. USN operated F-14 until 2006 so I don't see problem to have something similar in future from logistical point of view in fact it would be good for logistic to have F135 based twin engine fighter then something with variant of F119 which USN don't use.

F135 dry thrust is noticable higher then TF30 afterburner thrust so I doubt F-14 couldn't achieve high supercruise if you replace TF30 with F135. In fact twin engine F135 wouldn't need AB section at all because of shear power for two F135 on dry thrust. What point of AB? For example F-22 probable have maximum dry thrust around 220kN, two F135 deliever 250kN, upgraded F135 could increase that to 270kN or more.
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Unread post07 Sep 2020, 18:07

If I get things right from the OP, the Navy wants a new fighter for 1) updated tech and 2) extended range.

Is a clean sheet design really required for that?

Updated tech: Integration & fusion of sensor inputs and autonomy mainly require a better processor and software, not a new airframe. You could have an avionics upgrade tailored to the Navy. You could put radar/optical sensors along the airframe without needing a clean sheet design.

Extended range: Using in-flight refueling, perhaps using drones which take off with the fighter and refuel it before heading back, seems much simpler, cheaper, more flexible and faster to implement than a clean sheet design.

Wasn't the whole point of the F-35 program to have 1 fighter? It's like the Navy wants a high-low mix with something to equal the F-22.

6th gen characteristics will likely only become evident after a war using 5th gen against a somewhat sophisticated opponent.
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Unread post08 Sep 2020, 15:09

It's the F-35's size that's throwing people.

It packs so much into such a small frame, it boggles the mind. Top of that list IMO is 18/19,000lbs of internal fuel in the A/C respectively. What other "heavy" fighter from the previous teen series could do this? None. The F-14 came close at 16,000lbs, but put those two aircraft side by side and ask a layperson, "which do you think carries more fuel"?... they're going to guess the F-14 does almost every time. The F-14 is ENORMOUS, and you don't understand just HOW big until you stand at the back of the aircraft, looking at the "tunnel" between the engines and then up at the tails and finally, the top of the aircraft. You could literally have a family picnic on top of it (and this is with wings swept)! Absolutely gigantic IMO for a fighter.

Small no longer means "light". And light does not translate to "less capable". They've squeezed so much into that airframe, I dunno how they made room for the pilot. Crazy engineering feat, IMO..
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Unread post08 Sep 2020, 16:53

pmi wrote:I wouldn't call either of them small. The F-117 is roughly the same size as an F-15 or F-22.

Thinking F-117A is small is delusional on this wolfpak's part.
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Unread post08 Sep 2020, 17:40

mixelflick wrote:It's the F-35's size that's throwing people.

It packs so much into such a small frame, it boggles the mind. Top of that list IMO is 18/19,000lbs of internal fuel in the A/C respectively. What other "heavy" fighter from the previous teen series could do this? None. The F-14 came close at 16,000lbs, but put those two aircraft side by side and ask a layperson, "which do you think carries more fuel"?... they're going to guess the F-14 does almost every time. The F-14 is ENORMOUS, and you don't understand just HOW big until you stand at the back of the aircraft, looking at the "tunnel" between the engines and then up at the tails and finally, the top of the aircraft. You could literally have a family picnic on top of it (and this is with wings swept)! Absolutely gigantic IMO for a fighter.

Small no longer means "light". And light does not translate to "less capable". They've squeezed so much into that airframe, I dunno how they made room for the pilot. Crazy engineering feat, IMO..


Less empty space inside the OML. :-)
"There I was. . ."
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Unread post08 Sep 2020, 18:50

michaelemouse wrote:If I get things right from the OP, the Navy wants a new fighter for 1) updated tech and 2) extended range.

Is a clean sheet design really required for that?

Updated tech: Integration & fusion of sensor inputs and autonomy mainly require a better processor and software, not a new airframe. You could have an avionics upgrade tailored to the Navy. You could put radar/optical sensors along the airframe without needing a clean sheet design.

Much like the F-16, etc... there are limits to the upgrades you can do to an existing airframe. You can't put a bigger aperture radar in an F-35, for one. Secondly, you're limited by internal space, power, and cooling, using an existing design vs clean sheet. You're also limited in the signature reduction, by using an existing design. A clean sheet design might allow something like -70dbsm vs the current -40dbsm signature.

Extended range: Using in-flight refueling, perhaps using drones which take off with the fighter and refuel it before heading back, seems much simpler, cheaper, more flexible and faster to implement than a clean sheet design.

In flight refueling doesn't solve the problem, as you're still dependent on tankers. By having an aircraft that can fly >1000nm without refueling allows carriers to operate from safer distances, cuts down on IFR, cuts down defense of tanker assets, and makes an opponent's job far more difficult.

Wasn't the whole point of the F-35 program to have 1 fighter? It's like the Navy wants a high-low mix with something to equal the F-22.

6th gen characteristics will likely only become evident after a war using 5th gen against a somewhat sophisticated opponent.

No, the point of the F-35 was to replace legacy Hornets. There was never a 1 aircraft goal. There was a always a Hi Lo mix plan.
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Unread post08 Sep 2020, 19:33

wrightwing wrote:You can't put a bigger aperture radar in an F-35, for one.


Based on what? I've seen no evidence that they can't physically expand the array.
The sizing of the current radar is driven mainly by cost.

wrightwing wrote:In flight refueling doesn't solve the problem, as you're still dependent on tankers. By having an aircraft that can fly >1000nm without refueling allows carriers to operate from safer distances, cuts down on IFR, cuts down defense of tanker assets, and makes an opponent's job far more difficult.


So then the Navy should cancel MQ-25 right?
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Unread post09 Sep 2020, 10:26

I've been thinking what a 6th generation fighter could be like. I think these could be likely features:

1. More and better sensors than ever before. This has been true with every new previous generation and will likely hold true still. I think 6th gen fighter would have all the same stuff as F-35, but use new technologies (like GaN) in those sensors. 6th gen fighter will likely have side and possibly even backward looking multi-function arrays for radar, ESM, EW and communications functions. I think those arrays will be substantially bigger than those that were originally supposed to be in F-22 and Sukhoi Su-57. One new sensor type could be LIDAR as that could give some new capabilties due to very high resolution.

2. Longer range through having even more gas than before and having new AETP style three stream engines.

3. Be heavier than similar sized 5th gen fighters. It seems like this has been the trend as the aircraft are even more densely packed with avionics, fuel and weapons. Lighter materials and more advanced technology helps to counteract

4. Have even better stealth. I don't think there is any other way to really significantly increase combat capability and survivability. Better performance and better avionics are all nice and relevant, but stealth is the only way to get really dramatic advantages.

5. Even more power generation, cooling and computing capacity and reserves. That's just because of more powerful sensor systems and even more comprehensive avionics systems than before.

Of course it will be possible to upgrade 5th gen fighters with some of these capabilities (like new engine and more computing capacity). New designs will be needed at some point, but I think there is just way too much unused potential in 5th gen fighters that really going for 6th gen design now is not a good choice. Research of the technologies is definitely needed though.
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Unread post09 Sep 2020, 11:08

hornetfinn wrote:I've been thinking what a 6th generation fighter could be like. I think these could be likely features:

1. More and better sensors than ever before. This has been true with every new previous generation and will likely hold true still. I think 6th gen fighter would have all the same stuff as F-35, but use new technologies (like GaN) in those sensors. 6th gen fighter will likely have side and possibly even backward looking multi-function arrays for radar, ESM, EW and communications functions. I think those arrays will be substantially bigger than those that were originally supposed to be in F-22 and Sukhoi Su-57. One new sensor type could be LIDAR as that could give some new capabilties due to very high resolution.

2. Longer range through having even more gas than before and having new AETP style three stream engines.

3. Be heavier than similar sized 5th gen fighters. It seems like this has been the trend as the aircraft are even more densely packed with avionics, fuel and weapons. Lighter materials and more advanced technology helps to counteract

4. Have even better stealth. I don't think there is any other way to really significantly increase combat capability and survivability. Better performance and better avionics are all nice and relevant, but stealth is the only way to get really dramatic advantages.

5. Even more power generation, cooling and computing capacity and reserves. That's just because of more powerful sensor systems and even more comprehensive avionics systems than before.

Of course it will be possible to upgrade 5th gen fighters with some of these capabilities (like new engine and more computing capacity). New designs will be needed at some point, but I think there is just way too much unused potential in 5th gen fighters that really going for 6th gen design now is not a good choice. Research of the technologies is definitely needed though.



1: I agree. Right now, RWR antennas are located on the wings and ailerons. It's not such a stretch to have them emit or at least receive echoes from radar signals. It would have pretty bad vertical resolution but that's usually not as big a problem as horizontal resolution. Fins/side panels could give nearly 360 degree radar/EW.


2,3, 4, 5: All of those can be obtained by having a different view of what a fighter is. At some point, it may be determined that greater stealth, payload and range matter more than speed and maneuverability which could lead to "fighters" being flying wings.

From WWII onward, the US has used the motto that you never use manpower when you could use firepower. Lately, an equivalent motto has been that you don't send an aircraft when you could send a missile; The missile is much lower risk while being faster than an aircraft. If you extrapolate from that, it may be more useful to have an aircraft which isn't that maneuverable and only goes high subsonic if it allows you to have much higher range, loiter time, payload and stealth and instead rely on missiles/drones/probes when you want something fast and maneuverable.

I remember a humorous segment of a military field manual (no, really) which gave snipers instructions about what to do in various situations. One of them was what to do if you're up against multiple search dogs that have found you. I don't remember the specific phrasing but it pretty much came down to: "You're sh*t out of luck, bud." That may be increasingly true of what happens if the enemy gets a solid missile lock on you; At that point, your odds are very low. So don't count on maneuvering or speeding your way out of that problem, your best chance is to not be in that situation in the first place. And that may mean sacrificing speed and maneuverability for stealth by using a fling wing.

Could that lead to fighters getting shot down that otherwise could have survived by maneuvering and speeding away? Yes. And that has to be balanced against the defensive advantages of greater stealth and greater mission capabilities of flying wings.

We accept analogous trade-offs in other situations: We don't expect that submarines, snipers or special forces to speed, maneuver or brute force their way out of tight spots. The best odds of survival lay in not getting into tight spots in the first place by betting the house on stealth and information countermeasures.
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