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  • Northrop Unveils Sixth Gen Fighter Concept

    FYI - -

    Chris Hernandez, Northrop’s vice president for research, technology and advanced design, laid out the basic parameters for the sixth-gen fighter (Northrop refers to it as NG Air Dominance): it must boast long range because it’s unlikely to have many bases to operate from overseas; it must “carry a lot of weapons;” survivability will be key.
    http://breakingdefense.com/2015/12/n...ghter-concept/

    And it looks limited to 'concept' at this point since the Pentagon doesn't actually know what it wants, yet.

    Kendall Unveils 6th Gen Fighter Strategy

    "What it will be is a program that will be initially led by [the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency]. But it will involve the Navy and the Air Force as well," Kendall said. "The intent is to develop prototypes for the next generation of air dominance platforms, X-plane programs, if you will."
    http://www.defensenews.com/story/def...tegy/22597515/
    Any metaphor will tear if stretched over too much reality.

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  • #2
    The Northop ...

    ... concept looks like it could be mistaken for the "stealth" i.e. illegitimate progeny of a Horten Bros. fighter, and a Saab Draken.

    Design Team funding & self-perpetuating relevancy - interesting concept.

    Originally posted by GCoyote View Post
    FYI - -



    http://breakingdefense.com/2015/12/n...ghter-concept/

    And it looks limited to 'concept' at this point since the Pentagon doesn't actually know what it wants, yet.

    Kendall Unveils 6th Gen Fighter Strategy



    http://www.defensenews.com/story/def...tegy/22597515/
    "I am Groot"
    - Groot

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    • #3
      Also looks a bit like the old Dynasoar project which was a sub orbital weapon with satellite zapping capabilities.
      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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      • #4
        While I was still gainfully employed we initially worked with the Navy on what was the F/A-XX. Then the DoD said that the program needs to be “joint”. My thought is that the technology can be joint but trying to do a joint aircraft (like the F-35) won’t result in what either service needs. For example a common engine(s) and avionics make sense for joint use and represent major cost elements on new programs.

        Another big issue will be whether it will be manned or unmanned (or have the capability to be both). Should be interesting.

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        • #5
          I wonder about the cost. Is a generation 6 fighter worth it? I look at it as corporate welfare... Who could make a go of it with our current air-frames?

          Russia? While I appreciate their lines, (they make real pretty planes...) I don't think so. China could make a go in a decade or so but not right now...

          So keep making prototypes, but full production runs? No.
          Credo quia absurdum.


          Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

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          • #6
            Unlikely to have many overseas bases in the future... where do they get that idea from?
            "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
            Ernest Hemingway.

            "The more I learn about people, The more I love my dog".
            Mark Twain.

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            • #7
              What I'd love to see as a concept is a fully unmanned fighter designed to be so maneuverable that a pilot would be turned into chunky salsa with some of the stunts it could pull. It would not be stealthy, or at least it would be only so stealthy as it could be without impacting its other design characteristics. It would complement the F35 fleet but not replace it.

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              • #8
                The futures work suggests a debate needs to be had on two key points, in both the Navy and Airforce. The first is over mass v capability. Some of our opponents may be developing 'swarm' capability with relatively low value, low capability platforms and missiles but in numbers intended to overwhelm defences. The second is over autonomous systems and how much trust to place in them.

                These seem the key questions to resolve for 6th gen fighters and also the next generation of naval platforms.
                Ne Obliviscaris, Sans Peur

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ThoseDeafMutes View Post
                  What I'd love to see as a concept is a fully unmanned fighter designed to be so maneuverable that a pilot would be turned into chunky salsa with some of the stunts it could pull. It would not be stealthy, or at least it would be only so stealthy as it could be without impacting its other design characteristics. It would complement the F35 fleet but not replace it.
                  They did that back in the 70s with a Teledyne Ryan Firebee. Kicked the ever loving crap out of 2 Phantoms piloted by Top Gun instructors. The Pilot Mafia made the whole idea of an unmanned fighter quietly go away after that.
                  Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by PitchRate View Post
                    While I was still gainfully employed we initially worked with the Navy on what was the F/A-XX. Then the DoD said that the program needs to be “joint”. My thought is that the technology can be joint but trying to do a joint aircraft (like the F-35) won’t result in what either service needs. For example a common engine(s) and avionics make sense for joint use and represent major cost elements on new programs. ...
                    Agreed. It always seemed to me the best approach would be to start with a basic naval aircraft which faces more design constraints.
                    Any metaphor will tear if stretched over too much reality.

                    Questions about our site? See the FAQ.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PitchRate View Post
                      While I was still gainfully employed we initially worked with the Navy on what was the F/A-XX. Then the DoD said that the program needs to be “joint”. My thought is that the technology can be joint but trying to do a joint aircraft (like the F-35) won’t result in what either service needs. For example a common engine(s) and avionics make sense for joint use and represent major cost elements on new programs.

                      Another big issue will be whether it will be manned or unmanned (or have the capability to be both). Should be interesting.
                      Kind of curious, assuming that one scenario would be an unmanned "version", what would be the useful g-limit on such an aircraft? Since most current manned combat a/c are limited in software to what the pilot is capable of withstanding (or at least aware of pilot g-loc and having logic to detect and compensate), if we do decide to have an unmanned version, is there a g-limit within reason. For that matter, how does carrying a useful weapons load factor into that? For instance, on an a/c carrying a mixed load for A2A / A2G, how do the hard points matter?
                      Last edited by boomer400; 23 Dec 15, 17:16.

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                      • #12
                        As if that picture has anything to do with reality...
                        History is not tragedy; to understand historical reality, it is sometimes better to not know the end of the story.

                        Pierre Vidal-Naquet

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bluenose View Post
                          As if that picture has anything to do with reality...
                          The reality is today we have drone a/c like the Reaper / Predator which are sort of first gen unmanned production a/c. As such, while certainly capable a/c, they aren't particularly high-performance while this 6th gen proposal is quite high performance. No reason to think that we couldn't have 6th gen performance level in a drone. The AF has target drones in early model QF-16s; if they really wanted to, they could even arm them. So the reality is here and now.

                          Now, organizationally speaking, you're right, the AF has a ways to go to settle the problem. IIRC, they are already talking about expanding the RPA program and trying to figure out how exactly to retain the existing drone pilots who are overworked (3X hours compared to typical pilots).
                          Last edited by boomer400; 23 Dec 15, 17:31.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
                            They did that back in the 70s with a Teledyne Ryan Firebee. Kicked the ever loving crap out of 2 Phantoms piloted by Top Gun instructors. The Pilot Mafia made the whole idea of an unmanned fighter quietly go away after that.
                            Sound like a “tall tale” to me. I have been in the Firebee control room at the Pacific Missile Test Center (PMTC) at NAS Pt. Mugu in 1982 when I was on an exchange tour with VX-4. While the Firebee was small and could turn well, the operators had a very limited field of view and could not see any fighter in an air-to-air engagement. I did see a couple of Firebees get “splashed” by AIM-7s fired from a VX-4 F/A-18.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by boomer400 View Post
                              Kind of curious, assuming that one scenario would be an unmanned "version", what would be the useful g-limit on such an aircraft? Since most current manned combat a/c are limited in software to what the pilot is capable of withstanding (or at least aware of pilot g-loc and having logic to detect and compensate), if we do decide to have an unmanned version, is there a g-limit within reason. For that matter, how does carrying a useful weapons load factor into that? For instance, on an a/c carrying a mixed load for A2A / A2G, how do the hard points matter?
                              IMHO an unmanned fighter is basically mostly an interceptor that would not engage in a classic “dog fight”. The reason is that the software and sensors necessary for doing a maneuvering fight are going to be very hard to integrate into the system because of latency and of course the very dynamic nature of that type of encounter. If that is the case then g-limits don’t matter.

                              Now if we do over-come the issues above then another thing to consider is that for most designs sustaining maximum g loads quickly results in decreased airspeed and then reduced aerodynamic g capability. An example is when I was flying the F/A-18C and met an F-14 head-on during a training mission. I pulled to the max g (computer limited) and turned very quickly onto the F-14’s tail. Unfortunately I had lost a lot of airspeed in that maneuver and although I was on the F-14’s tail it had an opening velocity of over 150 knots.

                              Also, increased g capability results in increased structural weight. Not only does the wing/fuselage structure need to be “sized up” but all the various avionics support structures need to be beefed up. The weapons mounting structure needs to be able to handle the increased load. In fact for many aircraft, if they have external weapons mounted on the wings, have a reduced operational g. Also, the engine(s) and its mounting structure need to be sized to handle the load. So increasing the maximum loading is certainly not panacea many people think.

                              Also, some folks have the impression that because a vehicle is unmanned you can save weight because you don’t have to design to a safety factor that you use for manned vehicles. Specifically you design a manned aircraft to a SF of 1.5 so that for a 9 g requirement you would design all structure for 13.5 g ultimate load. However, the Air Force still requires that any vehicle, manned or unmanned, must be designed to and SF of 1.5. The rational being that if an air vehicle suffers a structural failure while flying over any populated area the results may not be “good”.

                              Bob

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