The leading countries of the world are engaged in the creation of new generation fighters. The US is working on new F-35s, Russia is testing prototypes of the T-50, China is implementing two projects, India and Japan are interested in development.
Currently, the leading countries of the world are actively engaged in the creation of fighters related to the so-called. fifth generation. The United States is actively operating the F-22 aircraft and is preparing for the full use of the new F-35. Russia continues to test prototypes of the T-50 fighter. China is simultaneously implementing two projects of new fighters. Some other countries, including India, Japan, etc., express their intentions to join the "club" of owners of fifth generation fighters.
Fifth-generation fighters, in terms of their number in the army, still cannot compete with the technology of relatively old models. Nevertheless, work on the creation and construction of new technology continues and leads to certain results. Moreover, aircraft designers in several countries are already beginning to think about developing the next, sixth generation fighters. In recent days, a number of news has appeared about promising projects and plans for the future. Already, some attempts are being made to bring the moment of the appearance of the sixth generation fighters closer.
At the end of January, some details of the Pentagon's plans for the development of tactical combat aviation became known. Now the US military is working on a draft budget for the next fiscal year, which is planned to include a number of interesting items. So, in the 2016 financial year, it is planned to start financing the program for the creation of a sixth generation fighter. Starting next year, the US military department will begin paying for the first research and development work on a new topic.
The exact amount of funding has not yet been announced. The cost of the first stages of the program will be determined later. In addition, in the near future it should be coordinated with Congress. At the same time, some features of the project were announced, concerning the approach to its development and other organizational issues. The main goal of the new project will be to ensure the superiority of the US Air Force in the face of the emergence and widespread distribution of foreign fifth-generation fighters. As in the case of the F-35 project, the work will be carried out with the financial and other participation of foreign countries, which in the future will be able to purchase new aircraft.
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
Requirements for a promising American sixth generation fighter remain unknown. Among specialists and amateurs of aviation technology, there are certain considerations regarding the appearance of such equipment, but the Pentagon has not yet approved the requirements in accordance with which a new project will be developed. The terms of reference for the new project will be formed in the early stages of the project, which will start only in the 2016 financial year. Thus, until a certain time, only the very fact of the program's existence and its general goals will be known. Further details should be published within the next few years.
In early February, it became known that Russia also has plans to create a sixth generation fighter. Moreover, some work is already underway in this direction. For obvious reasons, new aircraft will appear only in the distant future, but the first steps are being taken now. At present, Russian specialists are engaged in advanced radio-electronic equipment for the aircraft of the future.
Deputy General Director of the Concern "Radioelectronic Technologies" (KRET) Vladimir Mikheev said a few days ago that the organization is now working on onboard equipment for the T-50 aircraft, and is also working on systems for a promising sixth generation fighter.
PAK FA (T-50)
Domestic experts are considering two options for a promising fighter. One of them should be equipped with a cockpit, and the second is proposed to be made unmanned. Mikheev noted that it is not yet planned to abandon the person as a pilot who is present in the cockpit. Nevertheless, the final terms of reference, according to which a full-fledged project will be developed, should be formed by the Ministry of Defense.
Currently, only two hypothetical projects of the sixth generation fighter are known, which in the future will be developed by the United States and Russia. Other countries are so far interested only in the fifth generation of fighters, which is why they do not intend to engage in further development of aviation technology in the foreseeable future. It is noteworthy that the world leaders of the industry are still only making plans for fighters in the distant future.
At the moment, only one fighter, officially classified as the fifth generation, has reached full-fledged operation in the army. From 2001 to 2011, the US serially built the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor aircraft, currently in service with the US Air Force. Other projects in the United States or elsewhere are still at different stages. Thus, the Russian T-50 aircraft is being tested, and the American Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is being built in series and should reach initial operational readiness in the coming years. Despite this state of development of the fifth generation, the possibility of creating a sixth is already being considered.
A specific feature of the sixth generation of fighters at the moment is the lack of a generally accepted list of requirements for such equipment. For example, the requirements for the fifth generation include modern electronic equipment, including radar with an active phased antenna array, high flight characteristics, such as the ability to cruise at supersonic speed without using afterburner and super maneuverability, as well as the placement of weapons in the internal compartments of the airframe.
There are no generally accepted requirements for a sixth generation fighter. Various proposals appear in numerous discussions, but due to the lack of real projects, they all remain at the level of conversations. Probably, the sixth generation fighters will be required to further reduce the visibility to the enemy, increase flight data, etc. The possibility of creating both manned and unmanned vehicles is often mentioned.
Project XF70A Lockheed Martin
Some organizations, such as Boeing, are already trying to develop a sixth-generation fighter, but such projects are still being carried out on an initiative basis. As for the American promising project, which will be developed by order of the Pentagon, the first work on it is scheduled for the next fiscal year. In Russia, some issues related to on-board radio-electronic equipment are now being worked out, but the timing of the start of full-fledged design is still unknown.
According to a number of estimates, the first sixth generation fighters, created by the leading countries of the world, will take off for the first time in the second half of the next decade. Thus, they will enter service no earlier than the thirties. The operation of such equipment will continue until at least the middle of the century. This means that right now, aircraft designers and the military need to make long-term forecasts about the development of armies and changes in the methods of warfare, on the basis of which it will be possible to work out requirements for promising technology.
Author Ryabov Kirill