Navy 6th Generation Fighter

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
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element1loop

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Unread post01 May 2021, 04:32

steve2267 wrote:What if you slapped some foldable wings on the drop tanks and integrated a small turbojet on the sucker. After you nearly suck the tanks dry, you have the option of dropping the tanks and they RTB by themselves... OR you can use them as dumb MALD's to go make some radar guy get all excited.


Now that's a great idea, a 5,000 lb full-fueled JASSM-shaped EFT with loyal-wingman attributes, and tactical effects, get's you to IP, while giving back stealth and performance when you arrive, then it self-recovers after the strike.

Add a precision gliding parachute to recover them to water beside a FARP island then small team in RHIB tows them to shore, tracked recovery vehicle with a hoist arm takes it back to an airfield for reuse with the next FARP strike package to go in from that field. Beats exposing tankers out front when the 2 x 5,000 lb EFT is an autonomous drone which provides an extra 7,500 lb of juice to an F-35, which retains its tactical stealth in the fight, without losing the EFTs either.

Thus AAR the F-35 before it lands at a FARP, attach the EFTs and weapons, then take off to go strike. Rinse and repeat.
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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steve2267

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Unread post01 May 2021, 05:03

This discussion regarding range requirements pushing out to 1000nm or beyond got me thinking. To go fast and far is going to require a LOT of gas. You can go far on less gas, but your propulsion choices probably prevent you from then going fast, or having options to accelerate fast. (Besides, fighter pilots and attack jockies like to go fast.) But if the airframe is designed to hold all that gas, then the airframe gets heavy and loses kinematic performance. So how to get the gas to go far and still maintain peformance? As the USAAF showed in WW2, you carry drop tanks. So you can either go with disposable drop tanks, and punch them... but in todays day and age of Elon Musk audaciously landing rockets back on the ground... I got to thinking about flying the tanks back for re-use. What with Raspberry-Pi computers the size of a deck of playing cards, it ought not be that difficult to put an autopilot in the thing to drive it back to the FARP -- or to an alternate FARP -- after launching a striker out of a FARP... probably want to diddy on out of there before the ballistic missiles land. But then they could also possibly be stoopid giant-MALD's. I was just spit ballin'. Seems to me going with some sort of punchable, disposable or re-usable flying EFT is the way to extend range and yet retain some semblance of kinematics at distance.

Depending on how far forward the FARP is, one may not want to have aerial tankers overhead. But getting to altitude with a bombload can suck a lot of gas. First thing USAF strikers did in Southeast Asia was to hit the tankers after takeoff and climb to altitude. (And first order of business coming off the target, well, after dodging SAMS or tangling with Migs, was to hit the tankers.) So ARF right after launching off a FARP could be beneficial. KC-135's or KC-46's (or whatever you have) would be great for this, but orbiting those huge gasbags above a FARP may not be an option? I suppose MQ-25's could possibly be used for Bees and Cees. If you have enough gas orbiting the sky, one might just land to load ordnance and then takeoff to minimize ground exposure, then go get your gas airborne.
Take an F-16, stir in A-7, dollop of F-117, gob of F-22, dash of F/A-18, sprinkle with AV-8B, stir well + bake. Whaddya get? F-35.
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element1loop

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Unread post01 May 2021, 05:06

hornetfinn wrote: What can those unmanned aircraft do in similar situation? Basically I think that in near future UCAVs can not do any "beast mode" things and will likely be a lot less flexible in many situations than manned aircraft. They might also need more fuel and will likely need much more support from other assets. So overall they might be more difficult to support than F-35Cs for example. Of course at some point we will likely end up with full fighter sized UCAV with even better capabilities than F-35C.


On top of this, RAAF finally ordered 12 x MQ-9B Skyguardian variants this week plus a bunch of spares and sensors plus a very small number of initial testing weapons (LGB, JDAM, Hellfire nothing fancy), to go with them.

I mention this only because I converted the program cost to AUD and the total cost per Skyguardian air frame for their life cycle is $200 million AUD each.

Kind of steep, right?

But the same for 72 x F-35A is, get this, $220 million AUD each, out to 2060, or so.

Very long-range, and low-performance armed drones with just a fuel-sipping turboprop, are monumentally expensive to buy and operate.

Just imagine what a high-performance, long-range heavily-armed soupa-doopa Ai drone will cost to buy and operate?

No one is going to want to buy and operate that. That would make a $1.7 trillion USD operating cost look like pocket change.
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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element1loop

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Unread post01 May 2021, 05:55

steve2267 wrote:So you can either go with disposable drop tanks, and punch them... but in todays day and age of Elon Musk audaciously landing rockets back on the ground... I got to thinking about flying the tanks back for re-use.


Yes, we stopped using timber and canvas with the Hawker Hurricane for a reason. Stress is non-linear with speed. Same with paper tanks doing 600 knots. Disposable is adding more bottom line and logistic load. Not that reuseable autonomous would be cheap either, but it makes a lot of sense tactically as you say for performance, and for range.

steve2267 wrote:Depending on how far forward the FARP is, one may not want to have aerial tankers overhead. But getting to altitude with a bombload can suck a lot of gas ... but orbiting those huge gasbags above a FARP may not be an option?


A heavy above could tip-off the opposing, if their sensors are still telling them anything OTH, so make sure those aren't and it's not a problem to put a heavy nearer the active FARPs, as long as nothing is usefully illuminating them.

I'm not so sure carrying bombs to altitude is a part of the problem though, as AAR is a lower mid-level operation for the most part (better stability and control down lower but still above the convective bumps), plus the initial climb-rate is always rapid at lower altitudes. It's the climb above 20 k ft to 45 k ft that's much slower, and likely to comparatively guzzle fuel, plus a gradual acceleration to cruise speed once level from there. Both will occur much faster with a slick jet, with a massive payload remaining on internal weapons, thus relatively low AoA to maintain efficient level at FL450.

steve2267 wrote:I suppose MQ-25's could possibly be used for Bees and Cees. If you have enough gas orbiting the sky, one might just land to load ordnance and then takeoff to minimize ground exposure, then go get your gas airborne


How I see it working is this.

Takeoff from say an Australian FOB, AAR internal only. Then immediately flyout to a FARP and arrive in full stealth, one after the other, unseen and unheard. The Chinese don't know the FARP is active. Add the 5,000 lb EFT and weapons at the FARP, takeoff with ~26,000 lb (usable), drop off autonomous EFTs when arriving to deep-strike IP.

EFT flies to a FARP to recover. But you strike, then fly to a second or third FARP, to repeat a second strike same day, so pick up a new EFT and weapons load there, strike again, return to FOB in Australia with a KC-30A 1/2 of the way back to the FOB. So the tanker is barely exposed at all, it's escorted by a single F-35A and loyal wingman, but has enabled deep land strike, and intervening sea control.

So ~26,000 lb usable and maybe an internal standoff-strike weapon (JSM, JSOW-ER, SiAW) from a FARP, without a tanker involved near the FARP, and disciplined stealthy autopilot flight profiles, i.e. let the planned mission legs and and auto-pilots do the fuel management to maximize the range and consumption rate of the 26,000 lb at all times, thus little to no unnecessary manual flight control, unless available fuel is well in excess of needs (but even then, you can't waste fuel in an air war).

On top of that, because you're stealthy and wide-open formations are the norm, there's no need to wait to reform a flight after launch. Each aircraft can proceed to climb and cruise to targets individually, as a strung out flight, probably going for separate targets anyway, and let the autopilots close up a flight gradually in transit to a better tactical formation at the IP, rather than waste fuel loitering near an airfield, or off a tanker, for each other to move out together, for no good tactical reason.
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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Unread post01 May 2021, 12:15

Bucket brigades come to mind. Aerial refueling of MQ-25 would add additional elements to survival for large tankers and p&g-equipped fighters. They use the MQ-25 units to ferry in fuel high over your forward area rather than placing the big boys in harm's way. The big boys stay over friendly airspace. The MQ-25 would need maximum time on station before it rotates out. It doesn't mentally fatigue in that scenario like a human would.
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ricnunes

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Unread post01 May 2021, 15:29

element1loop wrote:
steve2267 wrote:What if you slapped some foldable wings on the drop tanks and integrated a small turbojet on the sucker. After you nearly suck the tanks dry, you have the option of dropping the tanks and they RTB by themselves... OR you can use them as dumb MALD's to go make some radar guy get all excited.


Now that's a great idea, a 5,000 lb full-fueled JASSM-shaped EFT with loyal-wingman attributes, and tactical effects, get's you to IP, while giving back stealth and performance when you arrive, then it self-recovers after the strike.


Yeah, I kinda like that idea of EFTs which are capable of returning to a friendly base or area on their own like a drone once its fuel (or in this case, most of its fuel) is expended by the fighter aircraft which carries them.
This could potentially make the usage of EFT cheaper specially if and when there's a need to drop them. Note that modern EFT tanks are quite expensive and thus are usually available in limited numbers which means that operationally EFTs are only dropped in emergency situations.
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
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jetblast16

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Unread post01 May 2021, 16:08

Here's my take on a 6th gen fighter...notional specs:

-50,000 LBS empty weight
-35,000 LBS of gas (internal)
-8-10 Air-to-Air missiles (internal)
-50,000+ LBS thrust variable cycle engines x2
-All aspect stealth
-Multispectral sensors
-Advanced sensor fusion
-M2 supercruise in all up stealth mode (~300+ miles or so radius)
-Tailless (no horizontal or vertical stabilizers)
-High agility

Affordable? Of course not. But that is what I believe should be the "cornerstone" asset of next-gen air defense.
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Unread post01 May 2021, 16:12

Older machines could ferry in with plenty of spare tanks for operations. And they seemed to be able to use the same tanks on other aircraft. I guess you really don't see that with modern aircraft. Everything built custom to each type when their contractors no longer have to meet interoperability goals.
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Unread post01 May 2021, 17:36

steve2267 wrote:Have you thought this through?

An R/A-5C sized "dogfighter?" Seriously?

You do know that air forces buy aircraft by the pound, correct? The USAF is crying they cannot afford the F-35A, but they need an NGAD? That can fly out at least 1000 miles, and, what -- get there in an hour? Yeah, it won't be much of a dogfighter, but if they can not afford the Lightning II, how are they going to afford something that size?


First, I didn't reference affordability. I assume if the USAF/Navy really wants it, they'll find the money for it.

R/A-5C sized dogfighter? Yes, seriously.. It's a big (really big) sky out there, makes an R/A-5C look miniscule. Besides, the F-14 wasn't all that much smaller, and we know it can certainly "dogfight". Not that they're planning on doing so...
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Unread post02 May 2021, 10:26

jetblast16 wrote:Here's my take on a 6th gen fighter...notional specs:

-50,000 LBS empty weight
-35,000 LBS of gas (internal)
-8-10 Air-to-Air missiles (internal)
-50,000+ LBS thrust variable cycle engines x2
-All aspect stealth
-Multispectral sensors
-Advanced sensor fusion
-M2 supercruise in all up stealth mode (~300+ miles or so radius)
-Tailless (no horizontal or vertical stabilizers)
-High agility

Affordable? Of course not. But that is what I believe should be the "cornerstone" asset of next-gen air defense.


Still cannot have everything.

"high agility" is very hard for tailless. Its even harder for fast plane with good range, as those mean very low drag and engines optimized for high speeds which means worse T/W ratio at lower speeds.

So forget the "high agility". Its already over 100 years since WW1, and it will be over 60 years since Vietnam where maneuverability still mattered because of the unreliability of those ancient missiles.

Huge tailless plane will always have big trim drag losses when pulling the stick hard, as the force pushing the tail down will happen too close to the center of mass of the plane and will push the whole plane down, meaning more lift is needed to counter this. And the rotational inertia scales superlinearly to the plane size.

And to have good yaw control without tails, either horizontal thrust vectoring, or two widely-shaped engines with differential thrusting are needed.

Two widely-shaped engines would then mean even more roll inertia, though then asymmetric vertical thrust vectoring itself could be used for that roll control.


To supercruise at mach 2, the fan of turbofan is practically useless, plain turbojet does it better, the bypass air is just extra drag and the bigger fan needed for that bypass air is just extra weight. But to have 1) good fuel economy at subsonic speeds 2) high thrust at subsonic speeds (needed for reasonably short takeoff distance and good sustained turn rate) that bypass air is needed.

And adaptive cycle is not a magic bullet.
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Unread post03 May 2021, 01:48

hkultala wrote:Huge tailless plane will always have big trim drag losses when pulling the stick hard, as the force pushing the tail down will happen too close to the center of mass of the plane and will push the whole plane down, meaning more lift is needed to counter this.


I believe pushing up on the nose might also provide increased AoA and lift without the dreaded trim drag you mention.
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Unread post03 May 2021, 05:50

johnwill wrote:
hkultala wrote:Huge tailless plane will always have big trim drag losses when pulling the stick hard, as the force pushing the tail down will happen too close to the center of mass of the plane and will push the whole plane down, meaning more lift is needed to counter this.


I believe pushing up on the nose might also provide increased AoA and lift without the dreaded trim drag you mention.


More AoA == More induced drag.

That Increased AoA is EXACTLY what causes considerable part of the increased trim drag. When the tail is not participating in generating the lift or is generating negative lift, more AoA is needed from the wings, causing them to have more induced drag.
Last edited by hkultala on 03 May 2021, 18:53, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread post03 May 2021, 14:28

It's interesting to see how US combat aircraft internal fuel volumes have flunctuated over the years. Yes, I know drag is another big one when figuring range, but consider the following..

F-14D 16,200lbs
F-15C 13,500lbs
F-16C 7,000lbs
F/A-18E 14,700lbs

F-35A 18,250lbs
F-35B 13,500lbs
F-35C 19,700lbs

Does NGAD get its big bump in range from simply carrying more fuel, having less drag or will it come from more fuel efficient engines? Some combination of all 3?

I'm certain its classified, but I'm curious as to others opinion here..
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Unread post03 May 2021, 16:02

Basically what I was proposing (really for the USAF) was a large (read long) but mostly flat aircraft that would have low wave drag, and hopefully, a tailless design, carrying a humongous fuel load, with advanced and powerful engines, so that this aircraft would act as a "vanguard" to a host of new systems, forming "NGAD", or Next-Generation Air Dominance.

Such a plane, if designed and implemented properly, could kick the proverbial front door in, even against the most advanced air defense networks. It would combine altitude and speed (like an SR-71), but with all-aspect stealth, high levels of automation, and advanced sensors to monitor the battlespace clandestinely.

So, adaptive engines producing ~52,000 LBS of thrust at sea level with a sea level military power rating of between 32,000 - 34,000 LBS of thrust. Remember, it has been publicly acknowledged that an F-22A reached Mach 1.82 in military power at altitude. This plane would need to cruise for a "few hundred miles" at Mach 2.0, fully armed.

No magic here. Just money, inventiveness, and the will to make "the next generation".
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Unread post03 May 2021, 19:17

jetblast16 wrote:Basically what I was proposing (really for the USAF) was a large (read long) but mostly flat aircraft that would have low wave drag, and hopefully, a tailless design, carrying a humongous fuel load, with advanced and powerful engines, so that this aircraft would act as a "vanguard" to a host of new systems, forming "NGAD", or Next-Generation Air Dominance.

Such a plane, if designed and implemented properly, could kick the proverbial front door in, even against the most advanced air defense networks. It would combine altitude and speed (like an SR-71), but with all-aspect stealth, high levels of automation, and advanced sensors to monitor the battlespace clandestinely.

So, adaptive engines producing ~52,000 LBS of thrust at sea level with a sea level military power rating of between 32,000 - 34,000 LBS of thrust. Remember, it has been publicly acknowledged that an F-22A reached Mach 1.82 in military power at altitude. This plane would need to cruise for a "few hundred miles" at Mach 2.0, fully armed.

No magic here. Just money, inventiveness, and the will to make "the next generation".


Your engines are still magic; You still do not understand how conflicting your engine wishes are.

If you want to have low drag at high supersonic speeds, you cannot afford the drag caused by a big fan. You need either a turbofan or a very-low-bypass-ratio turbofan.

But if you want to have high thrust at subsonic speeds, you really want that big fan.

An adaptive cycle engine does not make it's fan bigger when it's on high-bypass mode. Instead, it just reduces airflow to the core, reducing thrust but gaining fuel-efficiency at subsonic speeds. The high-bypass-mode of adaptive cycle engines just make their low-speed/static thrust even worse.

What the adaptive cycle does allow is having good fuel economy at different speeds, instead of having good fuel economy at only one speed.

So forget those insanely high thrust numbers if you want to cruise fast.



F119 of F-22 is a very-low-bypass engine. Optimized for supercruise. 116 kN dry and 156 kN wet. Afterburner does not give very big improvement on thrust because most of the oxygen of the air is already used in the main chamber.

F135 of F-35 is almost the same engine core, but with much bigger fan, more bypass air. More low speed thrust and much more afterburning thrust, but worse supercruise due to much more inlet drag. 128 kN dry (only 12 kN extra from that extra cold bypass air, but that higher thrust is when burning equal amount of fuel, so ~10% better fuel efficiency when ignoring drag) and 191 kN wet (35 kN (22%) more from that extra bypass air when it's used in afterburner, also burning more fuel)

AFAIK they are developing a new adaptive-cycle engine for F-35. This engine will have same fan size, but bigger core. The bigger core will add weight and cost, but will give slight thrust increase at low-bypass mode at all speeds, but especially helps at supersonic speeds. And at high-bypass mode it will have higher bypass ratio than F135, giving slightly less thrust but better fuel economy at subsonic speeds.

However, the bypass ratio of this engine even on high-bypass mode will still be too big for very high supercruise speeds.
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