PLA 6th Generation Fighter development

Discussion in 'Air Force' started by Twix101, Dec 23, 2017.

  1. asif iqbal
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    asif iqbal Brigadier

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    I thought that UCAV was 6th generation

    Either way we are kind of struggling with 5th generation updates 6th is beyond my scope
     
  2. Klon
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    Klon Junior Member
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  3. Insignius
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    Insignius Junior Member

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    Before 6th gen planes, I would like to see China first having a whole range of stealth missiles. Not just cruise missiles, but also long range air-to-air missiles that are stealthy enough to evade detection by E-2D before impacting.

    Invisible weapons would be the ultimate force multiplier.
     
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  4. ougoah
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    ougoah Senior Member
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    It's easy to do the shaping and materials part of the problem but the electronics is difficult because current seeker technologies for medium and long range AAM (short ranges don't need stealth at all) rely on actively sending out detectable signals.
     
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  5. Bltizo
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    Bltizo Moderator
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    The USAF is hoping to get its initial 6th gen capability in service by 2030. Personally I think that's a bit ambitious, and I think a 2035 in service date for a Chinese 6th gen capability is somewhat aggressive as well, but it would line up well with overall PLA goals of seeking to further close the technology gap.

    Overall, having someone of authority like Dr Wang give such a clear deadline from his professional opinion and describing the various technologies he believes 6th gen fighters will have -- all 16 years before his own stated in service date... that's quite unprecedented in terms of transparency.
     
  6. Bltizo
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    Bltizo Moderator
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    Here's a couple of an unspecified twin engine tailless fighter concept from a last year's Zhuhai demonstrating a Y-20 deployed drone swarm concept. The Y-20 is escorted by J-20s and forward to them is the tailless fighter shown controlling the drone swarm.
    (second pic looks a bit weird because low frame rate, but you can tell what it's meant to look like; i.e.: symmetrical)

    https://twitter.com/i/status/1059267565392809984


    The design itself is probably just a generic next gen fighter stand in, but it shows that they're considering something tailless (to be expected), and certainly the integration of UAVs and swarms in the next gen fighter is consistent with that bit Dr Wang mentioned.

    jx zhuhai.jpg

    jx zhuhai2.jpg
     
  7. gelgoog
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    gelgoog Senior Member
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    The design reminds me of one of the Boeing 6th generation fighter proposals.

    I think these features are likely to be in 6th generation fighters.
    - TVC.
    - tailless design.
    - variable cycle engine.
    - dual seat version where the weapons operator acts as a drone swarm controller with a large control panel or holographic augmented reality display.
    - full EOTS coverage which provides detection of threats without blind spots.
    - AI assisted target classification.
    - simultaneous multiple-target selection by the weapons operator.
    - laser dazzler to blind enemy IR guided weapons and possibly enemy aircraft IRST.

    It is also likely that someone will attempt to go around g-limits on aircraft. For example aircraft typically have +9 g-limit but only -3 g-limit. This is because a 'red-out' is much more dangerous than a 'black-out'. But what if the pilot's seat could pivot to counter the effect? Or what if the pilot could be immersed in fluid to increase body pressure? Or what if AI could takeover aircraft flight control in an emergency where the pilot would 'black-out' but be reanimated afterwards?

    The other alternative is to make a high-speed interceptor. Instead of going for full maneuverability you go for maximum speed. Given the speed of missiles keeps increasing with weapons like the Meteor and others it means low-speed aircraft are more vulnerable to weapons. If the aircraft flies at Mach 3+, ideally at Mach 4, it would be fast enough to outrun most anti-aircraft missiles.
     
  8. Klon
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    Klon Junior Member
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    Would be amusing if the fighter is tailless but the bomber isn't.
     
  9. Twix101
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    Twix101 Junior Member

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    It is now unlikely that they (US) are going to meet the initial calendar partly because of delays on F-35. It seems that both US & China will start to introduce them in the 2035-2040 time-frame. I think the biggest hurdle that would slow down China is propulsion. I am fairly confident that they are going to meet their goals in other areas, but propulsion remains a very very difficult technology to master and requires a lot of experience as even today computing technology doesn't allow us to create high fidelity model without prior live tests as it involves incredibly complex mechanics.

    They really have to invest in this particular area.
     
  10. gelgoog
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    gelgoog Senior Member
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    The USA needs a 6th generation, or at least 5.5th generation aircraft, sooner rather than later. The F-22 was produced in only small quantities and it has a really poor serviceability and combat readiness rate. The Super Hornet will also need a replacement. Over the next decade both China and Russia will have their own twin-engine 5th generation aircraft and what's worse for the USA is that the production lines will be rolling. A lot of countries which are major US weapons clients need long distance strike packages. Japan, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc. This places the USA in a conundrum since they will not want their most advanced technologies to be exported to at least some of these countries. So I think what is likely to happen is that they will finance something simpler than the full blown ADVENT engine program. Like the original GE YF120 proposal for the ATF program.
    In short I think a 5.5th generation aircraft is more likely than a full blown 6th generation aircraft. Things like the drone control packages will likely be cut in the initial deliveries. In the worst case even the variable cycle engine will be totally cut in favor of a rehash of the F-35's engine.

    Modern computing technology does allow to simulate highly complex environments. The issue is that the transient regimes are still not well understood. Without real world data to validate the computer models these remain inacurate. However China does have large supercomputing hardware capabilities and I doubt they cannot go around most of these issues. A lot of material science problems have already been worked at by the Chinese for several years. I can't even remember the last time I read about people working on silicon carbide ball bearings and carbon-carbon composites for example before the whole thing went dark but it must have been like 3 years ago at least. The Chinese space and missile industry should also have some notion of the high-speed flight regimes and could help the aircraft industry in case that flight domain becomes relevant.

    I expect the Chinese to mainly iterate on the J-20 much like they did with both the J-10 and Flanker programs over the next decade. We will see the improved engines and likely improved avionics and systems packages. I expect them to improve the pilot interface further as well and to develop novel weapons for the aircraft. We will also see the lightweight fighter program(s) bear fruit over the next decade. Meanwhile the people working on the 6th generation project will remain working on the shadows. In fact I suspect them to have been working on that program for at least 5 years already.
     
    #20 gelgoog, Jan 4, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
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