estorilm
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:32 pm

They must know something we don't, and it's gotta be China as Russia continue to struggle matching technologies the US have had operational for a few decades now.

I thought the general consensus was that there weren't too many advantages to developing the NGAD platform currently? Engine tech could certainly give you some more range... it could be lighter. What else though?

I would expect a shape optimized more for speed and stealth like the YF-23 (or a complete delta even) without cruciform tails, but that'd hit the maneuvering performance hard. I personally don't believe in WVR engagements, but I can promise the internet would lose their minds talking about how it couldn't dogfight lol!

I don't see how the platform can excel at BVR / stealth / speed and retain stellar super-maneuverability. It's pretty much gotta go. The only exception would be to rely on 3D vectored thrust as principal attitude control versus supplemental.

Unfortunately we probably won't hear a peep about this thing till it's unveiled - I still can't believe the secrecy surrounding the B-21. I wonder if Northrop would get the contract?
 
DigitalSea
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:42 pm

estorilm wrote:
I don't see how the platform can excel at BVR / stealth / speed and retain stellar super-maneuverability. It's pretty much gotta go. The only exception would be to rely on 3D vectored thrust as principal attitude control versus supplemental.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_X-36

Anything's possible, the B-2 still utilizes radar masking technology that's still considered classified. How old is that aircraft again?
 
Planeflyer
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:44 pm

It all sounds very expensive. In addition it may be that more than ac is required to maintain AS. I don’t suppose there’s any chance the west could coordinate and cooperate on this effort.

In addition to any US efforts it seems like there is at least two programs in Europe and possibly one in Korea and Japan so there is a good opportunity to spread rd money.

Obviously a new program model would be required but this is costly enough to warrant a look.
 
estorilm
Posts: 750
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:59 pm

DigitalSea wrote:
estorilm wrote:
I don't see how the platform can excel at BVR / stealth / speed and retain stellar super-maneuverability. It's pretty much gotta go. The only exception would be to rely on 3D vectored thrust as principal attitude control versus supplemental.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_X-36

Anything's possible, the B-2 still utilizes radar masking technology that's still considered classified. How old is that aircraft again?

True, but the B2 is about the least maneuverable plane in history lol - zero vertical aerodynamic surfaces, it's nearly perfect as far as a stealth platform goes. This is simply impossible for anything like a fighter (or even anything supersonic, as it'll need stabilizing elements of some sort). I think the "Black Widow" was on the right track, but at the time, super-maneuverability was viewed as critical (which was probably the right call). Next time around, probably not so much.
 
DigitalSea
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:21 pm

estorilm wrote:
True, but the B2 is about the least maneuverable plane in history lol - zero vertical aerodynamic surfaces, it's nearly perfect as far as a stealth platform goes. This is simply impossible for anything like a fighter (or even anything supersonic, as it'll need stabilizing elements of some sort). I think the "Black Widow" was on the right track, but at the time, super-maneuverability was viewed as critical (which was probably the right call). Next time around, probably not so much.


Sorry I should have quoted more of your post - the B-2 comment was regards to technology to reduce an aircraft's radar signature. We've come a long way since then and I'm sure there will be some great things in the B-21 that'll give an IADS a run for its money (along with some additional capabilities on some demonstrators out in the desert).

Did you have a chance to check out the X-36 link? That's more in line with the stealth/super maneuverable aircraft part of your post I quoted.
 
DigitalSea
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:51 pm

Relevant regarding the rapid prototyping discussion:

Air Force OK With Failure on New Rapid Prototyping Acquisition Programs

The Air Force expects that some of the prototyping programs launched under its recently minted Section 804 fast-track procurement authority will fail—and it’s OK with that, a senior acquisition officer told AFA’s 2019 Air, Space & Cyber Conference Sept. 17.

“We’re going to have misqueues on Section 804, and that’s OK,” said Lt. Gen. Duke Richardson, the military deputy in the office of Air Force acquisition head Will Roper.

Indeed, Richardson said some degree of failure was to be welcomed. “I hope there are some that don’t work out, otherwise we’re probably not pushing the envelope hard enough,” he told a panel on industry partnerships.

Section 804 of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act mandated the creation of new “middle tier” procurement authorities that would allow for rapid prototyping and fielding of new defense capabilities.

But the very nature of such programs, Richardson told Air Force Magazine after the event, mean that some weren’t going to succeed. “Because they’re prototypes, we don’t know ahead of time if they’re going to work,” he said.

What the service needs to avoid is “oversteering” and condemning the whole idea because some don’t work out, he said. “The important thing is to figure out why it failed and then learn from it, not just say ‘Well, I guess we shouldn’t do 804s anymore.’”

The authority was designed to allow new technology to get to the warfighter faster, but that also means accepting more risk, Richardson said, something that needs to be reflected in the way programs are managed. “We have a tendency to run the small programs just like the large ones and we shouldn’t do that, that doesn’t make sense. The financial risk is much lower to us” for a small program, he pointed out.

Recognizing that faster acquisition means greater risk also has implications for the way that personnel need to be incentivized, he added.

“Right now the workforce is very fairness based, which is fine, and very process based. And the reason they’re so processed based is because they don’t want to make a mistake because they don’t want to get hurt for it. And that’s what slows us down sometimes.”

Asked how the service could overcome this notorious risk aversion of its acquisition community, he replied, “Simple: By not shooting them” if they get it wrong.

Acquisition officials need to know that “As long as the program plan is solid and well executed with due diligence, they’re not going to get hurt,” career-wise, by failure, he said. “We have folks who’ve been promoted that have worked on programs that have been canceled. … I’ve worked on canceled programs and I’m still here,” he concluded.



http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/Pages/2019/September%202019/Air-Force-OK-With-Failure-on-New-Rapid-Prototyping-Acquisition-Programs.aspx
 
Ozair
Topic Author
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:42 am

DigitalSea wrote:
Relevant regarding the rapid prototyping discussion:



“Right now the workforce is very fairness based, which is fine, and very process based. And the reason they’re so processed based is because they don’t want to make a mistake because they don’t want to get hurt for it. And that’s what slows us down sometimes.”

Asked how the service could overcome this notorious risk aversion of its acquisition community, he replied, “Simple: By not shooting them” if they get it wrong.

Acquisition officials need to know that “As long as the program plan is solid and well executed with due diligence, they’re not going to get hurt,” career-wise, by failure, he said. “We have folks who’ve been promoted that have worked on programs that have been canceled. … I’ve worked on canceled programs and I’m still here,” he concluded.


Thanks for posting that, it definitely adds to the discussion. I agree the USAF is prepared to adjust its risk profile to match what it needs to do even though as expected the USAF itself acknowledges that it currently has a very high aversion to risk.

The question then is whether Congress and the public are also willing to accept that higher risk profile. The impression I get is that Congress potentially isn’t and from my following of the F-35 program is the general public, or perhaps more succinctly the press reporting to the public and marketing hysteria, is nearly rabidly against under performing, over budget or delayed programs.
 
Planeflyer
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Thu Sep 19, 2019 5:15 pm

The recent attacks on SA highlight how vulnerable infrastructure is.

For most countries and the more developed the more vulnerable, a few hundred to a few 1000 precision strikes would cripple the ability to defend itself w/o resorting to nuclear strikes.

The combination of LO and precision weapons have dramatically increased the importance of air superiority and the advent of uav’s will further up the ante.

It won’t be long that any fixed target including leadership targets will be at risk w/I weeks of any conflict.

I suspect we will see this play out in Israel and Lebanon with in a few years.
 
DigitalSea
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Thu Sep 19, 2019 5:44 pm

Planeflyer wrote:
The recent attacks on SA highlight how vulnerable infrastructure is.

For most countries and the more developed the more vulnerable, a few hundred to a few 1000 precision strikes would cripple the ability to defend itself w/o resorting to nuclear strikes.

The combination of LO and precision weapons have dramatically increased the importance of air superiority and the advent of uav’s will further up the ante.

It won’t be long that any fixed target including leadership targets will be at risk w/I weeks of any conflict.

I suspect we will see this play out in Israel and Lebanon with in a few years.


Hard to address this without going off topic, but that's just a risk in peace time, no one plans on violence occurring.
 
Planeflyer
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Fri Sep 20, 2019 3:20 am

Zooey should have referenced the posts that stimulated my response.

I was responding to several posts questioning the need for the research into air superiority.

Regards your comments about no one expects violence we have a professional military whose job it is to think about such risks and develop plans to deter [email protected]&

This thread is largely about how to use air superiority to defend and deter aggression so unless you want to restrict the conversation to specific attributes of AC discussing the larger issues enriches the thread.
 
estorilm
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Mon Sep 23, 2019 1:54 pm

Planeflyer wrote:
Zooey should have referenced the posts that stimulated my response.

I was responding to several posts questioning the need for the research into air superiority.

Regards your comments about no one expects violence we have a professional military whose job it is to think about such risks and develop plans to deter [email protected]&

This thread is largely about how to use air superiority to defend and deter aggression so unless you want to restrict the conversation to specific attributes of AC discussing the larger issues enriches the thread.

I don't think anyone wants to restrict the scope of the thread - I do however question the need for such an aircraft in the first place. The F-22 has been sitting around idle for over a decade with absolutely zero (deployed) aircraft to challenge it. I'd assume it's far enough ahead of the power curve with avionics and sensors/engines that this will continue for another decade. The F-35 (from a systems standpoint) is even more advanced.

It's cool for PR, but no one is going to be challenging US fighters head-on unless they have a death wish. The battlespace element / picture and data-sharing are another critical facet of this scenario, as (presumably) all US aircraft will have a complete and integrated battlespace picture of what's going on, and can task / allocate targets depending on visibility and weapons loadout accordingly. Developing that type of integrated network/communication is probably far more lethal than specific stealth or fighter technologies on their own.
 
Ozair
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:44 pm

DigitalSea wrote:
Relevant regarding the rapid prototyping discussion:


I listened to the latest Aviation Week Check 6 podcast which is titled A New Century Series For the Air Force? here, https://aviationweek.com/defense/podcas ... -air-force

It is worth a listen to understand how Will Roper is proposing this new century series build, including that he wants to decouple design from manufacture and have digital design houses build the aircraft and then hand that off to a separate vendor who will bend the metal. Steve Trimble is thinking the same as myself in that this would be better applied to the loyal wingman/drone concepts and leave the manned airframes to the more traditional processes given the technology and market forces that are present in that specific sector. The changes proposed are really so radical that they are unlikely to be compatible with the companies who actually have the capability to build aircraft for the NGAD program.
 
Planeflyer
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Tue Sep 24, 2019 2:39 am

estorilm wrote:
Planeflyer wrote:
Zooey should have referenced the posts that stimulated my response.

I was responding to several posts questioning the need for the research into air superiority.

Regards your comments about no one expects violence we have a professional military whose job it is to think about such risks and develop plans to deter [email protected]&

This thread is largely about how to use air superiority to defend and deter aggression so unless you want to restrict the conversation to specific attributes of AC discussing the larger issues enriches the thread.

I don't think anyone wants to restrict the scope of the thread - I do however question the need for such an aircraft in the first place. The F-22 has been sitting around idle for over a decade with absolutely zero (deployed) aircraft to challenge it. I'd assume it's far enough ahead of the power curve with avionics and sensors/engines that this will continue for another decade. The F-35 (from a systems standpoint) is even more advanced.

It's cool for PR, but no one is going to be challenging US fighters head-on unless they have a death wish. The battlespace element / picture and data-sharing are another critical facet of this scenario, as (presumably) all US aircraft will have a complete and integrated battlespace picture of what's going on, and can task / allocate targets depending on visibility and weapons loadout accordingly. Developing that type of integrated network/communication is probably far more lethal than specific stealth or fighter technologies on their own.


You could very well be right that money is better spent elsewhere. My only point is that while the West has enjoyed air superiority since ww2 it will be more important than ever to so as air launched weapons are making step change improvements in lethality.
 
Planeflyer
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Tue Sep 24, 2019 2:41 am

Ozair wrote:
DigitalSea wrote:
Relevant regarding the rapid prototyping discussion:


I listened to the latest Aviation Week Check 6 podcast which is titled A New Century Series For the Air Force? here, https://aviationweek.com/defense/podcas ... -air-force

It is worth a listen to understand how Will Roper is proposing this new century series build, including that he wants to decouple design from manufacture and have digital design houses build the aircraft and then hand that off to a separate vendor who will bend the metal. Steve Trimble is thinking the same as myself in that this would be better applied to the loyal wingman/drone concepts and leave the manned airframes to the more traditional processes given the technology and market forces that are present in that specific sector. The changes proposed are really so radical that they are unlikely to be compatible with the companies who actually have the capability to build aircraft for the NGAD program.



In a set up like this How do you prevent finger pointing?
 
DigitalSea
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:22 am

Planeflyer wrote:
In a set up like this How do you prevent finger pointing?


Earlier in the thread, there was an article that was explaining how the Air Force is willing to forgo the finger pointing in favor of innovation.
 
estorilm
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:02 pm

Planeflyer wrote:
estorilm wrote:
Planeflyer wrote:
Zooey should have referenced the posts that stimulated my response.

I was responding to several posts questioning the need for the research into air superiority.

Regards your comments about no one expects violence we have a professional military whose job it is to think about such risks and develop plans to deter [email protected]&

This thread is largely about how to use air superiority to defend and deter aggression so unless you want to restrict the conversation to specific attributes of AC discussing the larger issues enriches the thread.

I don't think anyone wants to restrict the scope of the thread - I do however question the need for such an aircraft in the first place. The F-22 has been sitting around idle for over a decade with absolutely zero (deployed) aircraft to challenge it. I'd assume it's far enough ahead of the power curve with avionics and sensors/engines that this will continue for another decade. The F-35 (from a systems standpoint) is even more advanced.

It's cool for PR, but no one is going to be challenging US fighters head-on unless they have a death wish. The battlespace element / picture and data-sharing are another critical facet of this scenario, as (presumably) all US aircraft will have a complete and integrated battlespace picture of what's going on, and can task / allocate targets depending on visibility and weapons loadout accordingly. Developing that type of integrated network/communication is probably far more lethal than specific stealth or fighter technologies on their own.


You could very well be right that money is better spent elsewhere. My only point is that while the West has enjoyed air superiority since ww2 it will be more important than ever to so as air launched weapons are making step change improvements in lethality.

Well that's the problem here, I agree with that - however I don't see how air superiority will really impact the deterrence or threat mitigation of such weapons. At some point, you're just talking apples and oranges - and I think we're at parody now. Fighters will engage fighters, and fixed systems will engage missiles (ships have highly advanced anti-missile systems, same with ground-based installations).

There's no advantage that a so-called 6th gen fighter would bring to the table really. The kinematic performance of the F-22 is absolutely exceptional, I can't envision a missile which requires higher performance than what the F-22 could deliver. Most of these so-called hypersonic missiles will likely be deployed by conventional platforms like the B-52 anyways. Hell you could throw one in a B-1B and still achieve speed, with greater range than the F-22 even.
 
DigitalSea
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:03 am

estorilm wrote:
Well that's the problem here, I agree with that - however I don't see how air superiority will really impact the deterrence or threat mitigation of such weapons. At some point, you're just talking apples and oranges - and I think we're at parody now. Fighters will engage fighters, and fixed systems will engage missiles (ships have highly advanced anti-missile systems, same with ground-based installations).

There's no advantage that a so-called 6th gen fighter would bring to the table really. The kinematic performance of the F-22 is absolutely exceptional, I can't envision a missile which requires higher performance than what the F-22 could deliver. Most of these so-called hypersonic missiles will likely be deployed by conventional platforms like the B-52 anyways. Hell you could throw one in a B-1B and still achieve speed, with greater range than the F-22 even.


Have you been reading about the PCA and what the US Air Force has been talking about doing with it?
 
Ozair
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Tue Nov 19, 2019 12:26 am

Familiar talking points to what is happening with Tempest and FCAS in looking at concepts and networks of systems. Interesting to note though that they aren’t planning to push through just yet but want to cement and advance the engineering processes and algorithm development.

The US Air Force is in no hurry to commit to a next-gen fighter design

The U.S. Air Force is taking its time to settle on a next-generation fighter design, awaiting instead lessons learned from the F-35 jet and playing the field with promising technologies, according to a senior service official.

Options being kicked around are still in the conceptual stage, as America’s newest fighter, the fifth-generation F-35, is only now “coming off the line,” according to Lt. Gen. David Nahom, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for plans and programs.

“We’re not in a hurry,” Nahom told Defense News on the sidelines of the International Fighter Conference, an air power-themed confab of industry and government officials held in Berlin, Germany. He noted that expected deliveries of the F-35 and the relatively young age of the F-22 fleet enables the service to be picky about moving forward with the envisioned Next Generation Air Dominance weapon.

In short, the Air Force wants to keep its options open for as long as possible for a weapon whose combat punch will lie not in a single aircraft but rather in the amalgamation of hardware and software, an airborne concerto of data clouds, artificial intelligence, and boundless interconnectivity.

“We don't want to get too stuck into a platform,” Nahom said. “It's a very different way to approach it.”

...

https://www.defensenews.com/global/euro ... er-design/

The article also has the following description of the difference in the goals for the American program compared to the European programs.
But Nahom noted a difference in the American way of thinking when it comes to piercing contested airspace — a key skill required of all future warplanes. While the Europeans seem to perceive the task as popping dispersed bubbles of ever-improving air defense systems, the U.S. view is that any airspace may be contested at any given time.
 
mxaxai
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:36 am

Ozair wrote:
Image

I saw your post in the other thread; the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft looks very similar to the F-22. I know that the F-22 is out of production for good, but how straightforward would it be to turn the F-22 into a "6th gen" fighter? Most of the points don't seem to require an all-new airframe. Perhaps a new anti-radar coating. Sure, it would be a very major update (e. g. a new cockpit) but surely integrating new sensor fusion and control algorithms into an existing jet is easier than starting from a clean sheet.
 
Ozair
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Fri Nov 29, 2019 2:15 am

mxaxai wrote:
Ozair wrote:

I saw your post in the other thread; the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft looks very similar to the F-22. I know that the F-22 is out of production for good, but how straightforward would it be to turn the F-22 into a "6th gen" fighter?

To answer that we need to answer the question and reason I started this thread in the first place, what will be the defining factor of a 6th gen aircraft? Until we figure that out I’m not sure we can say whether 5th gen aircraft can make that jump.

If the significant change is perhaps autonomous operations then potentially so, I expect the sensor and sensor fusion present on 5th gen aircraft could be adapted to a 6th gen concept. Posters in this thread have suggested speed or persistence is the determining factor, in that case it is unlikely an F-22 or F-35 will be upgradable to 6th gen. If it is only sensors, or maybe Directed Energy Weapons, then it is a 50/50 but may require whole new electrical architectures to make that change.

mxaxai wrote:
Most of the points don't seem to require an all-new airframe. Perhaps a new anti-radar coating. Sure, it would be a very major update (e. g. a new cockpit) but surely integrating new sensor fusion and control algorithms into an existing jet is easier than starting from a clean sheet.

So based on my comments above I think it is probably unlikely we will see a 6th gen conversion from 5th gen jets. Just as we have seen 4th gen go to 4.5 I think we will see 5th go to 5.5 and they incorporate some of the capability of a 6th gen platform but to take full advantage a 6th gen will probably require whole new airframe/engin/avionics/manufacuring technique etc.

If you consider it would be expected to have a higher performance engine than today, likely based around the AETP technology, new electrical architecture to handle DEW, perhaps different shaping or coating to handle be attacked by DEW, perhaps faster speed, longer range, greater processing power or communications to improve autonomous ops? All those point to an airframe that may look reasonably different to the delta variant winged fighters we see today.
 
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kc135topboom
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Sat Nov 30, 2019 1:40 am

keesje wrote:
It's a natural thing this must happen. By 2026, the national defense industry in the U.S. is projected to have more than 2.1 million workers at firms employing 10,000 people or more. https://www.statista.com/statistics/684454/forecast-of-employment-in-the-national-defense-industry-us-by-firm-size/

Wait for congress to come up with alarming foreign "6th Gen" fighter threats soon. Dismissed / downplayed until yesterday, millions are invested spreading the news, highlighting probably Russia, Chinese air force aggression. Use new media, nationalism, Hollywood, Lexington Institute, incidents to get the perceptions in. In the interest of humanity, world peace, 2.1 million+ industry jobs and the $600billion defense budget.
https://taskandpurpose.com/china-h-20-stealth-bomber/

Innovation will be key if the US Department of Defense wants to keep up in an ever-changing world. Awesome weapons will be ours :cloudnine: I feel more should be spend on Defense in the US. :cool2:

Image

In e.g. UK the Education budget is twice the Defense budget. In the US Defense budget is nearly 6x the Education budget. It is part of a deeply embedded culture / industry. Don't dare to question..



I am so tired of defense spending comparisons. These are vastly different economies. The US has the largest economy in the world. The price of all weapons systems produced in the US is sharply more expensive than those produced in China or Russia.
A Chinese PLAAF J-20 cost about $30MILLION, a USAF F-35A costs $85MILLION. Labor costs in the US are higher than Chinese labor. The same with Russia, the SU-57 costs $45MILLION and Russian labors costs are higher than China, but still below labor costs in the US.
 
Ozair
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:31 pm

The Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force has some interesting comments and backs up what has bene said regarding 6th gen fighters, that the concept still hasn’t been defined.

Italian air chief: Time to think about next-gen fighters


...

The sixth generation has not been clearly defined yet, but we must think now about what we will need in 20 years. It could be artificial intelligence, direct-energy armament, or the possibility to integrate and direct swarms of drones from an asset acting as a sensor itself through its capability to adapt its own “skin.”

The biggest challenge will be for industry. The program will be a pulling factor for national industry for the development of future technologies that do not exist yet.

...

https://www.defensenews.com/outlook/201 ... -fighters/

To follow the above, if we separate the potential identified 6th gen capabilities already spoken about in the thread, are there any emerging technological sectors that people see changing fighter combat and being embraced by the 6th gen programs?

Will there be an advantage to being a later to market 6th gen aircraft, so perhaps is Tempest or FCAS are delayed by three to five years will that delay allow them to better integrate new technologies, or is the rapid integration of new technologies one of the defined characteristics?
 
DigitalSea
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:37 pm

Ozair wrote:
https://www.defensenews.com/outlook/201 ... -fighters/

To follow the above, if we separate the potential identified 6th gen capabilities already spoken about in the thread, are there any emerging technological sectors that people see changing fighter combat and being embraced by the 6th gen programs?

Will there be an advantage to being a later to market 6th gen aircraft, so perhaps is Tempest or FCAS are delayed by three to five years will that delay allow them to better integrate new technologies, or is the rapid integration of new technologies one of the defined characteristics?


I'm sure there are some capabilities that are classified at the moment that may more clearly define what a 6th gen fighter is. Some of the features you mentioned (swarms/DEW/AI) could be incorporated in a 5.5 gen manner.

It's a good possibility the next gen multi-role or air-superiority fighter will have a significantly longer range than what we have now, and dynamic engines to maximize efficiency in different operating environments. As for what the classified capabilities are that could be on the horizon? Who knows, only the dreamers out in the desert do.
 
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seahawk
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:36 am

Rapid integration of new technologies is the key for a 6th gen design. It will be largely a modular concept with a big focus on making avionics and systems upgrades easy.
 
DigitalSea
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Tue Dec 03, 2019 4:12 pm

Modular Design Concept for 6th Gen (plug and play):


Image
 
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Spacepope
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:27 am

kc135topboom wrote:
keesje wrote:
It's a natural thing this must happen. By 2026, the national defense industry in the U.S. is projected to have more than 2.1 million workers at firms employing 10,000 people or more. https://www.statista.com/statistics/684454/forecast-of-employment-in-the-national-defense-industry-us-by-firm-size/

Wait for congress to come up with alarming foreign "6th Gen" fighter threats soon. Dismissed / downplayed until yesterday, millions are invested spreading the news, highlighting probably Russia, Chinese air force aggression. Use new media, nationalism, Hollywood, Lexington Institute, incidents to get the perceptions in. In the interest of humanity, world peace, 2.1 million+ industry jobs and the $600billion defense budget.
https://taskandpurpose.com/china-h-20-stealth-bomber/

Innovation will be key if the US Department of Defense wants to keep up in an ever-changing world. Awesome weapons will be ours :cloudnine: I feel more should be spend on Defense in the US. :cool2:

Image

In e.g. UK the Education budget is twice the Defense budget. In the US Defense budget is nearly 6x the Education budget. It is part of a deeply embedded culture / industry. Don't dare to question..



I am so tired of defense spending comparisons. These are vastly different economies. The US has the largest economy in the world. The price of all weapons systems produced in the US is sharply more expensive than those produced in China or Russia.
A Chinese PLAAF J-20 cost about $30MILLION, a USAF F-35A costs $85MILLION. Labor costs in the US are higher than Chinese labor. The same with Russia, the SU-57 costs $45MILLION and Russian labors costs are higher than China, but still below labor costs in the US.


Labor costs ain’t everything. Belarus I’d wanting F-16s now since the SU-27 series is so expensive to keep operational. Specifically mentioned is how many sets of engines it eats. https://defence-blog.com/news/russian-s ... -f-16.html
The last of the famous international playboys
 
Ozair
Topic Author
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:53 pm

DigitalSea wrote:
Modular Design Concept for 6th Gen (plug and play):



seahawk wrote:
Rapid integration of new technologies is the key for a 6th gen design. It will be largely a modular concept with a big focus on making avionics and systems upgrades easy.


So there is modular and there is modular. I don’t expect we will see modular airframe components. If significant VLO is required you simply can’t chop and change in that way. With respect to systems though, given virtualization now it should be highly possible to modularize that to the extend that nothing is locked in other than generic hardware. I listened to a podcast recently with David Deptula who suggested as such while discussing the USAF’s moves towards a digital century series (which is a term he didn’t like and is apparently encouraging USAF leaders to avoid using).

Question though is how far along F-35 will get to make modular a 5th gen standard and therefore not a defining characteristic of 6th gen platforms. F-35 already has a significant level of hardware abstraction and will only be improving and Blk4 changes are 80% software (no airframe mold line changes) with releases far more frequent than previous generations.
 
mxaxai
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Sun Dec 08, 2019 8:34 am

I agree that you cannot easily change the main airframe parts, be it a 4th, 5th or 6th gen fighter. In fact, stealth makes this even less likely because your part design is defined by aerodynamics, mechanics and additionally electromagnetics. On the other hand, all aircraft today feature modularity on their hardpoints, so it's not as if the concept is entirely foreign.

Replacing parts makes the most sense for the electronic system due to the fast progress of electronics (and software) compared to airframe development. Again, though, we have seen this occur on older aircraft as well, adding for example new radars, new com links, new cockpits or new ECM equipment.

Because the majority of electronics are in some way safety relevant, they need to be certified. Having a plug-and-play interface may ease development and certification but it still requires a lot of time and money. Unless we're willing to accept higher risks from new equipment, yearly iPhone-style updates seem unlikely. Plus no matter how easy something is to install, it still requires downtime of the aircraft. In the past, operators preferred to do a major update every decade (or so) rather than smaller updates every year. Recent acquisitions also indicate that air forces prefer proven, reliable (and cheap) systems unless the new system offers a sufficiently significant upgrade; engine upgrades are quite rare, for example (B-52, A330neo, 737max).
 
Ozair
Topic Author
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Sun Dec 08, 2019 9:01 pm

mxaxai wrote:

Because the majority of electronics are in some way safety relevant, they need to be certified. Having a plug-and-play interface may ease development and certification but it still requires a lot of time and money. Unless we're willing to accept higher risks from new equipment, yearly iPhone-style updates seem unlikely.

Actually more frequent updates is exactly where they are going,

Updating every six months instead of every two years marks a cultural shift from “the traditional waterfall acquisition to an agile, rapid capability/continuous delivery” model, Winter noted. The new model is more akin to commercial product cycles, where rapid, iterative software releases are now the norm.

https://www.airforcemag.com/article/Kee ... -Bad-Guys/

mxaxai wrote:

Plus no matter how easy something is to install, it still requires downtime of the aircraft. In the past, operators preferred to do a major update every decade (or so) rather than smaller updates every year.

You’re mixing two different update types. Software for fighter jets is updating far more frequently than every ten years. It has been as stated above traditionally a 2 to 3 year timeframe. Bigger updates that cover weapons, sensors, EW etc occur more along that ten year or even once in a platforms life frequency.

The downtime for the software changes is minimal at best. If the choice is made to not upgrade at the squadron/wing level, which is easily done, the aircraft will be upgraded at the depot when it heads in for deeper maintenance.

With the context above, more frequent software upgrades for 5th and 6th gen platforms would seem to me the norm now and not the longer more expensive exercise of the past. Aircrew could be given release notes on changes and have a check ride to update and famil themselves with the updates, and likely that only required if the changes directly impact the UI. You may only add UI changes every year or two years but could update radar, sensor and EW softwarevery six months.


mxaxai wrote:

engine upgrades are quite rare, for example (B-52, A330neo, 737max).

Agree 100% but we are talking military here so forget the NEO and Max and suggest instead the F-15/16 where almost all operators continue with the original engine option. Same with the Eurofighter/Rafale, the blk upgrades to those jets have maintained the original engines.

I expect 6th gen aircraft will continue the trend in military fighter design where the engine and aircraft are essentially developed specifically for each other.
 
TObound
Posts: 536
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Wed Dec 11, 2019 5:31 pm

There’s a few points I don’t think others have made so I’ll chime in.

Cost effectiveness is going to be a much greater concern. As China’s GDP reaches parity and then maybe even pushes past the US, the ability to field and sustain capabilities that ensure American superiority in the Pacific will become a growing economic challenge. Combined with what is very likely to be some stiff political headwinds at home against growing defence budgets, will make cost a major strategic driver. If it’s not being considered at all today, I would argue they’ll be in trouble in the 2020s. Millennials are going to be the dominant voting demographic by 2024. Telling them that they have to stay indebted and poor to keep funding the Pentagon, all while trying to pay soaring healthcare bill of aging boomers is going to be a very tough sell. There’s going to a lot of hard reckoning in the defense sectors in about 5-10 years.

The above naturally drives certain decisions. Namely that the future battlespace has to be met with a hi-lo mix. You don’t need a 6th gen fighter for low-intensity conflicts. Arguably, there should be no manned fast air involved in low intensity conflicts going forward at all. Helos, VTOL, UAVs can handle all the grunt work. PCA should have exactly three theatres: Pacific, Arctic and Europe. In at least two of those, range and speed matter very much. And reducing the mutual exclusivity between those two items will be a major design criteria. The other big driver is the man-machine interface. The JSF has made massive advances in this field. But there’s still plenty more that can be done. Especially considering advances in AI/Machine Learning, Decision Support Systems, et. In essence, the PCAs in a flight come up with a “firing solution” against the threats and tell the pilot what to do to get it done.

How the fight would play out…..Imagine a flight of J-20s suddenly seeing several hypersonic missiles coming their way while lasers frying the optics on their EO/IR, dazzling the pilots, and jamming hitting their radar as the AI on the PCAs figure out how to catch their frequency hopping. They are overwhelmed and those inbound networked missiles are maneuvering to reduce their no-escape zone and arrive on target simultaneously from several directions for synchronized hits. That vision drives more requirements: deep networking, power for DEWs (both RF and lasers), and space for payload (those BVRAAM hypersonic missiles are huge).

Conversely, how do you defend against the reverse scenario: inbound networked hypersonic missiles. That would drive requirements too. Laser can fry missile optics. But newer missiles are dual mode and have radars too. They are also getting all sorts of feed from the IADS. So maybe several decoys have to be carried onboard with all kinds of jammers. Maybe the EO has to be hardened to protect against lasing and crews have to be protected against the same too.

I think a good bit of it is quite simply the ultimate maturation of fifth generation technology and truly integrated in a design from the ground up.
 
DigitalSea
Posts: 164
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:49 pm

TObound wrote:
There’s a few points I don’t think others have made so I’ll chime in.

Cost effectiveness is going to be a much greater concern. As China’s GDP reaches parity and then maybe even pushes past the US, the ability to field and sustain capabilities that ensure American superiority in the Pacific will become a growing economic challenge. Combined with what is very likely to be some stiff political headwinds at home against growing defence budgets, will make cost a major strategic driver. If it’s not being considered at all today, I would argue they’ll be in trouble in the 2020s. Millennials are going to be the dominant voting demographic by 2024. Telling them that they have to stay indebted and poor to keep funding the Pentagon, all while trying to pay soaring healthcare bill of aging boomers is going to be a very tough sell. There’s going to a lot of hard reckoning in the defense sectors in about 5-10 years.

The above naturally drives certain decisions. Namely that the future battlespace has to be met with a hi-lo mix. You don’t need a 6th gen fighter for low-intensity conflicts. Arguably, there should be no manned fast air involved in low intensity conflicts going forward at all. Helos, VTOL, UAVs can handle all the grunt work. PCA should have exactly three theatres: Pacific, Arctic and Europe. In at least two of those, range and speed matter very much. And reducing the mutual exclusivity between those two items will be a major design criteria. The other big driver is the man-machine interface. The JSF has made massive advances in this field. But there’s still plenty more that can be done. Especially considering advances in AI/Machine Learning, Decision Support Systems, et. In essence, the PCAs in a flight come up with a “firing solution” against the threats and tell the pilot what to do to get it done.

How the fight would play out…..Imagine a flight of J-20s suddenly seeing several hypersonic missiles coming their way while lasers frying the optics on their EO/IR, dazzling the pilots, and jamming hitting their radar as the AI on the PCAs figure out how to catch their frequency hopping. They are overwhelmed and those inbound networked missiles are maneuvering to reduce their no-escape zone and arrive on target simultaneously from several directions for synchronized hits. That vision drives more requirements: deep networking, power for DEWs (both RF and lasers), and space for payload (those BVRAAM hypersonic missiles are huge).

Conversely, how do you defend against the reverse scenario: inbound networked hypersonic missiles. That would drive requirements too. Laser can fry missile optics. But newer missiles are dual mode and have radars too. They are also getting all sorts of feed from the IADS. So maybe several decoys have to be carried onboard with all kinds of jammers. Maybe the EO has to be hardened to protect against lasing and crews have to be protected against the same too.

I think a good bit of it is quite simply the ultimate maturation of fifth generation technology and truly integrated in a design from the ground up.


You're right, it's going to take a great salesman to sell the Chinese threat to the American public. For the past couple years, our political/media establishment has been hammering home the "Russia Russia Russia!" angle, while publicly downplaying the threat China poses to keep things cordial while our economies "decouple". Currently, their military doesn't present a large enough threat to the United States to justify a large build up, that's where propaganda's going to have to fill the void.

The J-20s plus their 6th gen multi-role/PCA platforms are more than likely going to incorporate some form of AI swarm/loyal wingman control in the not-so-distant future, that's a huge push for them as they want to be the world leader in Artificial Intelligence and their commercial/military sectors are working hand in hand to accomplish this. I think swarms of relatively cheap and disposable sub-surface, surface, aerial, and space based drones are going to become the norm in the future. You don't have to necessary outright destroy something but you can certainly disable it. Hypersonics are just one part of the equation, China is trying to capitalize on America's weaknesses.
 
TObound
Posts: 536
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Wed Dec 11, 2019 9:22 pm

DigitalSea wrote:
You're right, it's going to take a great salesman to sell the Chinese threat to the American public. For the past couple years, our political/media establishment has been hammering home the "Russia Russia Russia!" angle, while publicly downplaying the threat China poses to keep things cordial while our economies "decouple". Currently, their military doesn't present a large enough threat to the United States to justify a large build up, that's where propaganda's going to have to fill the void.


What I am suggesting here is that even if the threat is recognized, public appetite for anything for more than a basic deterrent is limited. And the more expensive it is, the less capability you'll end up with because public appetite is keep up with Joneses to so to speak is waning. Political change is going to come much quicker than anybody realizes. In the 2020 election, there will be more Gen X + Y + Z voters than Boomers and Silent Generation voters. This is a first. In 2024, Boomers and Silent Generation voters fall to a third of the electorate. This is from a share of over half the electorate in 2016. Given how right leaning those older generations are and how left-leaning the younger generations are, along with the politicization of the security sector, it really does not bode well for defense spending. Especially not for spending on massively expensive aircraft programs. A program that has the issues and costs, of say the F-35 during its development, would never make it to production with these voters. This is why I argue that cost (capital and O&M) is going to be a much, much bigger strategic consideration. The 10% budget increases year over year are over when Trump leaves. And they likelihood that even current levels of spending are sustained through to the 2030s is very slim.

DigitalSea wrote:
The J-20s plus their 6th gen multi-role/PCA platforms are more than likely going to incorporate some form of AI swarm/loyal wingman control in the not-so-distant future, that's a huge push for them as they want to be the world leader in Artificial Intelligence and their commercial/military sectors are working hand in hand to accomplish this. I think swarms of relatively cheap and disposable sub-surface, surface, aerial, and space based drones are going to become the norm in the future. You don't have to necessary outright destroy something but you can certainly disable it. Hypersonics are just one part of the equation, China is trying to capitalize on America's weaknesses


Swarms don't necessarily negate the need for high-end combat aircraft. But they most certainly will change the battlespace. The biggest issue is usually cost asymmetry. This is the most infamous example:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/16/1494 ... s-military

Now multiply that example by a thousand. Sure, a highly capable force can win the war. But will they bankrupt themselves trying?

Most notably for the US, cost asymmetry gets massively exacerbated by the costs of power projection. China's drones and aircraft can operate from land and have supportive IADS ground assets providing cover. American aircraft have to operate from carriers or distant bases, possibly from beyond the second island chain in 20 years. Developing a concentration of force that can overwhelm Chinese defenses at a given point becomes very difficult. So the American platforms have to be more expensive. Meanwhile, China only needs to put lots of cheaper and less capable obstacles and they will eventually simply drain US resources. And this is exactly what China is doing. They are doing to the US what the US did to the Soviet Union when Reagan ramped up defense spending.

A look from the naval perspective is usually instructive here:

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/sp ... army-navy/

Really shows you how much China is gaining by putting up fast and cheap while the US builds a smaller and more expensive fleet that it has to deploy globally. If the cost asymmetry doesn't get flipped, the US will be bankrupted trying to dominate the Pacific or simply cede the space to China.
 
DigitalSea
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Thu Dec 12, 2019 4:13 am

TObound wrote:
Meanwhile, China only needs to put lots of cheaper and less capable obstacles and they will eventually simply drain US resources. And this is exactly what China is doing. They are doing to the US what the US did to the Soviet Union when Reagan ramped up defense spending.

A look from the naval perspective is usually instructive here:

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/sp ... army-navy/

Really shows you how much China is gaining by putting up fast and cheap while the US builds a smaller and more expensive fleet that it has to deploy globally. If the cost asymmetry doesn't get flipped, the US will be bankrupted trying to dominate the Pacific or simply cede the space to China.


That's actually part of China's strategic plan, to make us believe we can win through military superiority and outspend ourselves into bankruptcy without having to match us dollar dollar, thank you for your post TObound.
 
Ozair
Topic Author
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Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Sun Jan 12, 2020 9:39 pm

DARPA are looking to partner with Industry to develop an experimental aircraft that will not use traditional methods and moving control surfaces for manoeuvres. It is an interesting program and potentially a good lead in to a 6th gen aircraft that would be able to improve the shape aspects of a stealth design by completely removing any moving control surfaces.

The intent is to have a full scale aircraft flying by 2024.

The Next DARPA X-Plane Won’t Maneuver like Any Plane Before It

The international aerospace company Airbus recently unveiled a model of a new drone called the Low Observable UAV Testbed (LOUT), which reportedly combines several undisclosed stealth technologies. Hints in the aircraft’s description led some aviation experts to speculate that one of LOUT’s radar-evading powers could come from a lack of conventional moving control surfaces.

For the past century, airplane control mechanisms have relied on hinged surfaces such as ailerons and rudders. Shifting their positions alters the shape of the wings or tail, changing the surrounding airflow—and thus air pressure. This adjustment pushes the aircraft to maneuver in predictable ways. But traditional control surfaces require external seams that radar can detect with relative ease. A seamless airplane would have greater stealth capabilities and performance. It could also have lower weight, size, complexity and cost, compared with planes that use traditional steering methods.

Airbus declined to comment on whether LOUT contains such a control system, but the quest to develop a craft without these moving control surfaces is definitely accelerating. This past August the U.S. government’s Defense Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) recently established Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effecters (CRANE) program asked innovators to design and build an airplane that can be maneuvered without movable surfaces—and to produce this functional, full-scale craft by 2024.

Such a plane would most likely have to be guided with a method called active flow control (AFC), which DARPA called for in its announcement. Instead of changing the airflow around a craft by moving hinged surfaces, AFC alters it in other ways. One technique, for example, puffs air extracted from a jet engine through one- to four-millimeter-wide holes in the relevant parts of the plane’s skin. Another uses arrays of electrodes to discharge electrical pulses that rapidly heat the air nearby, causing it to expand and thus thermally altering the airflow. These precisely placed disruptions change the lift and drag at a specific location to initiate a pitch (nose up or down), roll (wing up or down) or yaw (nose left or right) movement.

...

https://www.scientificamerican.com/arti ... before-it/
 
DigitalSea
Posts: 164
Joined: Sun Sep 08, 2013 6:28 pm

Re: USAF PCA and other 6th gen fighters

Mon Jan 13, 2020 4:36 am

Ozair wrote:
DARPA are looking to partner with Industry to develop an experimental aircraft that will not use traditional methods and moving control surfaces for manoeuvres. It is an interesting program and potentially a good lead in to a 6th gen aircraft that would be able to improve the shape aspects of a stealth design by completely removing any moving control surfaces.

The intent is to have a full scale aircraft flying by 2024.
The Next DARPA X-Plane Won’t Maneuver like Any Plane Before It
https://www.scientificamerican.com/arti ... before-it/


Plasma actuators possibly?

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