The USAF has built and flown a full-scale Next Gen Fighter

New and old developments in aviation technology.
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tank-top

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Unread post25 Sep 2020, 18:24

I am almost willing to take cash bets... everyone missed the obvious!

The new fighter is the (F)B-21 Raider, or a version of it. There could be two different variants, a fighter and a bomber but why bother? A couple AMRAAM’s and Aim-9x’s and the F-35 helmet, he’ll steal the bombing and targeting software from the F-35.

We will see
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Unread post25 Sep 2020, 18:29

tank-top wrote:I am almost willing to take cash bets... everyone missed the obvious!

The new fighter is the (F)B-21 Raider, or a version of it. There could be two different variants, a fighter and a bomber but why bother? A couple AMRAAM’s and Aim-9x’s and the F-35 helmet, he’ll steal the bombing and targeting software from the F-35.

We will see


Given that there was no full scale demonstrator for B-21 this would be a bizarre development.
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element1loop

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Unread post26 Sep 2020, 07:59

tank-top wrote:I am almost willing to take cash bets... everyone missed the obvious!

The new fighter is the (F)B-21 Raider, or a version of it. There could be two different variants, a fighter and a bomber but why bother? A couple AMRAAM’s and Aim-9x’s and the F-35 helmet, he’ll steal the bombing and targeting software from the F-35.

We will see


Doubt this. NGAD is very likely to be a high and fast super-cruiser, so it can cover very long distances faster than any fighter ever has (and it will need to). That will exclude a transonic VLO bomber as the basis for NGAD. I also agree with weasel that B-21 is unlikely to be a single, due to the potential for large asymmetric loads, with shallower wider bays either side of a central duct. I think it has to be a twin, with a large long central bay.

Given the efficiency, speed and range required by an air-dominance NGAD, I think it's likely this will be a large single, with a massive fuel load, plus weapon payload thus meeting the basic needs of an evolving PCA type platform in the process. I don't think a VLO B-21 missile-truck can be that.

But combine twin B-21 and single NGAD in time and space and they'll certainly rip airforces apart in the air, and on the ground, in quick order. Thus penetrating air and ground OCA of PCA is covered.

Now add a forward (single) VLO tactical tanker in support of NGAD.

USAF Discussing Larger Fighters, Weaponized KC-46, Roper Says

Steve Trimble September 23, 2020 | International, Aerospace, C4ISR

… “We don’t put weapons and sensors on tankers to shoot down aircraft, but the current KC-46 is a big airplane with the ability to mount sensors and weapons under the wings,” Roper said. “We just don’t do it because we can use a fighter combat air patrol to defend high-value assets.” The Air Force also may need a different kind of tanker in the future, he said. Two options are possible: A larger aircraft than the KC-46 that could carry more fuel, but needs to stay farther away from potential threats, or much smaller, unmanned and stealthy “micro-tankers” that could operate much closer or even inside defended airspace, Roper said. “I expect that as we really look at airpower in the truly contested environment that we’ll be looking at fuel very strategically,” Roper said. …

https://sdquebec.ca/en/news/usaf-discus ... roper-says


Self-defending VLO forwards tactical tankers, with an A2A weapons bay ... full of AIM-260s ...

With that offensive penetrating force-mix in mind it makes sense that B-21 and NGAD would be contemporaneous builds, and enter service within a year or two of each other.

I expect an armed VLO drone tanker to make an appearance fairly soon-ish.
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Unread post26 Sep 2020, 13:20

Armed, VLO tanker soon? At first I thought that unlikely, but if you take into account all of the work done in the black world over the past 20 years on flying wing type aircraft... very likely we have at least a squadron or two of these for special ops.

The possibility of NGAD being single engined is IMO remote, but not impossible. When prototypes of the Flanker were photographed by spy satellites (RAM-L)?, Western intelligence thought it was single engined! Or at least, some fighter sized airframe at the Ramenskoy test facility was.

I still favor twin engines, likely F-135 derivatives with much greater thrust and fuel efficiency. Can only imagine what seeing/hearing a fighter at an airshow with 100,000lbs of thrust would be like :)
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Unread post26 Sep 2020, 14:20

I don't think a large supercruiser can be a single. We are talking a plane on the order of 80,000lb.
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Unread post26 Sep 2020, 18:23

mixelflick wrote:The possibility of NGAD being single engined is IMO remote, but not impossible. When prototypes of the Flanker were photographed by spy satellites (RAM-L)?, Western intelligence thought it was single engined! Or at least, some fighter sized airframe at the Ramenskoy test facility was.


No they thought it use powerful turbojet engines so it need to be huge (lot of fuel) so it can have similar range as F-15.
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Unread post26 Sep 2020, 19:20

I thought Su-27's prototype T-10 with the curvy wings had two of the engines from the MiG-27.
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Unread post27 Sep 2020, 00:27

sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:I don't think a large supercruiser can be a single. We are talking a plane on the order of 80,000lb.


Disagree, F-135 is currently pushing a 70,000 lb MTOW single-engine fighter, with F-16C like performance, an aircraft which is on the cusp of super-cruising now. Add variable path thrust and efficiency with ~30% larger engine diameter, and I see no problem with an NGAD maintaining efficient Mach 1.2 to 1.3 over the Indo-Pac basis and wide Asian littoral, to transit quickly then use transonic stealth, from initial point to egress, plus for loiter. With an even more blended design.

If it was determined a large single is what it will take, to get the range and payload with transit and combat dash speed, then it can be done, within an over-size clean-sheet fighter design.

The initial concern with adaptive three-path engines was how to get it compact enough to create an F135 direct replacement? Would that even fit or be possible? Turns out it is. But then the concern is, can it fully yield the potential performance and efficiency benefits/promise with an F-135 size?

Probably no, not all of it. A larger diameter will likely maximize the potential performance benefit available.

So this engine tech was initially being considered in higher diameter designs. There must have been a range of larger prototypes before it was shrunk down to a 'compact' F-135 size. So it would have been obvious from almost a decade ago that a thicker larger single-engine fighter would be able to access a 100,000 lb class single within the next decade.

So why continue with twins, when single-engine can now achieve 5,000 hr reliability, with much less space used, less NET airframe and engine weight, and better fuel efficiency everywhere? I think a larger diameter single-engine in a large fighter is a certainty - soon. The only question is, was that done with NGAD? The NGAD demonstrator was designed and has emerged in the right time-frame for it be a large super-cruising single, with more than double the thrust of an F135.

Hence, "records are being broken", etc.
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Unread post27 Sep 2020, 03:55

I hear what you are saying, but I don't think a plane with enough fuel to supercruise for many hundreds of miles (F-22 only has a 150nm supercruise in its radius figures) can be powered buy an F135 derivative. The NGAD is supposed to have Raptor speed with BEYOND F-35 range. It is going to be BIG. I just don't have the faith that the new engines will have 50,000lb dry thrust class with now lapse rate (twin F119 basis for that number). Now, I could be wrong, and engine tech may be more advanced than I am giving credit for. I just don't see it right now. I would be happy to be proven wrong.
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Unread post27 Sep 2020, 06:11

Yeah, I'd be happy to be right too.

Keep in mind, I'm not talking about M1.6 to M1.7, I mean an 'efficient' super-cruise speed, which knocks 2 hours or so off the total mission duration, allowing more regional reach, with less fatigue.
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Unread post27 Sep 2020, 13:20

Fair, the efficiency of 1.3-1.4, just past the transsonic region, compared to raptor speed would allow a smaller airframe
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Unread post28 Sep 2020, 01:43

If the air force is serious about replacing the Raptor, not just in stealth and sensors, but in kinematics/ range also, then, in my opinion, the next generation fighter, the "anchor" for a family of collaborative systems, will have to carry a very large fuel load and be twin-engined. Moreover, the engines that power it will have to be "next gen" also, permitting efficient subsonic/ transonic cruise, and very high thrust in max power. No way it'll be single-engined.
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Unread post30 Sep 2020, 08:27

It appears that some kind of Uber F-22 like is the most popular theory. If a clean sheet a massive tailless/single tail surface F-22/YF-23 like on steroid.

Well I say it's also possible to look exactly like a F-35A at a glance with 80% common/cousin parts but with some changes you can never "upgrade" an existing F-35A into, like more internal fuel or what not, maybe the all important power and thermal management, different internal carriage arrangement. Quite possibly fly worse than F-35A if G and acceleration is the metric you go by. Something that makes the kind of trade offs that your average foreign customer won't take but desperately needed by USAF to fill an existing/emerging capability gap, but not necessarily some alien tech that's 10 years ahead of everything else flying. Or it does a mission that never existed before or in a way that's radically different.

tank-top wrote:The new fighter is the (F)B-21 Raider, or a version of it.

An aircraft look more like B-21 than a traditional fighter as a part of NGAD family? I say quite possibly yes, some day, not the one they just flew though.
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Unread post30 Sep 2020, 09:10

I haven't posted here in a long time, but thought I'd throw my hat in the ring, if only to make this discussion even more confusing. I remember years ago, Boeing was doing some research on using the latest carbon nano-fiber composites in wing construction. A friend of mine who worked for Boeing at the time, heard a word floating around about something that kind of vanished in the muck of R&D. And that word was "Raptor-X".

Raptor-X was apparently a test bed they were tinkering with in the construction of new wings for the Raptor, which was Boeing's primary job during the original program. This also included new nano-composites throughout the air-frame as well. The result was an attempt to decrease the Raptors weight by as much as 8,000lbs, as these new composites are far superior to the type developed and used for Raptor in the 1990's. To boot, these composites are similar in performance in handling temperatures far beyond what they do now...similar in principle to hyper-sonic test aircraft using carbon-carbon composites.

Along with this, the Advent engine being developed by GE has by now reached its maturity, since it's been on the test bed for years now. Not really a topic they release much info on, as it is a high bypass engine that will be ram-jet like pushing aircraft up to and beyond Mach-3. Any useful data on that is like dust in the wind. One can only assume with lack of public info, they've most likely reached their goal.

Now, to respond to the posts above. The possibility this new aircraft is a greatly updated design of the original Raptor would not seem too far outside the realm of reality, as we already know Boeing was tinkering with this years ago. It's quite possible much of the R&D into new materials had already been completed, yet shelved until newer manufacturing techniques made it easier and more economically viable to get into experimental production.

So, who knows, maybe it is a new "Raptor-X".

We'll see when they decide to let the public see some pics.
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Unread post30 Sep 2020, 11:13

Dropping 8000lb is a lot. IIRC the F-35A only has a 20,000lb structure. If we scale that to the empty weight as a quick approximation than a Raptor has a roughly 30,000lb structural weight. That would be a quantum leap in manufacturing tech.

A 36,000lb Raptor, 57,000lb fully fueled and loaded for AA... that would be a rocketship
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