A sixth-generation fighter is a conceptualized class of jet fighter aircraft design more advanced than the fifth-generation jet fighters that are currently in service and development. Several countries have announced the development of a sixth-generation aircraft program, including the United States, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China. The first sixth-generation fighters are expected to enter service in the 2030s. Today in this article we will discuss about the features and capabilities of the 6th generation jets.
In recent years, many people have been asking a question: what should will be the look of sixth-generation fighter aircrafts? This question seems to be premature, as the fifth generation is just taking off and we’re already talking about the sixth!
The fighter aircrafts in the world of aviation has gone through many generations, and the Western standard is different from the Russian standard.
According to the Russian standard, the third generation is from the 1960s to the 1980s is not fundamentally different from the second generation aircraft. For example: MiG-21, MiG-23, Su-19, Mirage F1, F-4 Mirage II, F-5.
The fourth-generation aircrafts were built from 1975 to 2010. Here we see a real difference from previous generations of aircraft. Electronic control of the double-circuit turbojet engine appeared, and the maneuverability of the aircraft became better due to the implementation of the principle of dynamic instability, and the aircrafts became multi-purpose. Some examples are Su-27, MiG-29, F-14, F-15 and Mirage 2000.
4++ generation examples are: Su-30, Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Su-35.
The main difference between the fifth and fourth generation fighter jets is the implementation of stealth and the internal weapons compartment. Additionally, these aircraft feature supersonic flight without afterburner ( Supercruise) and more advanced avionics, radar and missiles.
For example: F-22, F-35, J-20, Su-57.
The F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II Stealth fighters are the best 5th-generation fighter aircrafts on the planet, russian and chinese warplanes of the same generation cannot match them in terms of technology.
The development of air defense systems has become a very strong obstacle in the path of the fighter jets, the development of the sixth generation aircraft will take time of at least 10 to 30 years. The United States will be the first nation to develop a 6th generation fighter.
The sixth-generation aircraft must be able to do the most important things, such as avoiding air defense systems. This is perhaps the most important qualification for being a sixth-generation aircraft.
How do they do this?
First, the plane had to detect the ground air defense systems earlier and destroy it. This is very difficult because ground-based radars are always more powerful than aircraft radar.
Second, the aircraft should not be visible to ground radar. However, the development of modern antenna systems is likely to discover all the tricks of stealth aircraft. The future is generally multi-band radar, and its combined antenna will eventually be within a certain range, and stealth aircraft can also be detected.
Third, the aircraft should be able to fly at hypersonic speeds. If the sixth-generation aircraft is able to also fly at Mach 5 or further, the same speed as the anti-aircraft missile, then the missile will not have a chance to catch up with the aircraft and destroy it.
Fourth, the aircraft should have Super mobility. As a result of these actions, the aircraft can avoid the missile in flight, passing the missile over or under itself. It is more difficult for the missile to turn around and attack again because its internal fuel is limited.
Of course, the sixth-generation aircraft also needs to develop new composite materials, which can be invisible to the radar beam. There are also chances that the six generation jets will have the option of being unmanned and manned.
A network-centric combat platform will be the most important feature of sixth-generation aircrafts.
To sum up, the development of the sixth-generation jets requires the division of three directions.
1. Stealth technology, modern stealth aircraft mainly have a small frontal radar reflection area, but radar can detect and discover from other angles. It can also be detected by infrared radiation. So the material is a problem.
2. Supersonic flight. A combat drone that can fly at speeds up to Mach 10 is currently being developed in the United States, is reusable many times and, most importantly, is cheaper than a single-use missile. The United States has verified and confirmed that pilots can fly planes above Mach 3.
It’s clear that supersonics and stealth are hardly compatible. Many experts in the United States have publicly stated that radar stealth coatings are very fragile and unlikely to withstand the high temperatures of supersonic flight.
3. Super mobility. This is what Russia emphasizes, but the United States puts less emphasis on this indicator.
In order to develop the sixth-generation aircraft, the United States has been studying the scramjet engine for a long time. Therefore, the sixth-generation aircraft equipped with this engine will be very good.
Military Experts believes that the sixth-generation jets should be based on intelligent skin, that is, the body can be repaired automatically and has extremely advanced sensors. Also, the sixth-generation aircraft should be able to deform according to the flight height and space, and be able to break through the traditional space for trans-atmospheric operations, that is, it can take off and land at the airport like an ordinary aircraft, and it can also conduct space or suborbital bombing operations like an aerospace aircraft. Of course, such a fighter must be equipped with a combined variable cycle engine, which can combat in the air and space.