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Northrop Grumman’s teased 6th generation fighter hints that we haven’t seen the last of the manned combat aircraft.

The defence giant is best known for its long line of flying wings, including the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and the yet-to-be-unveiled Long Range Strike Bomber.

Northrop Grumman teased computer generated images of the new concept aircraft in a video shown below. The video shows a new mystery fighter flying alongside a few of Northrop’s already flying aircraft.

This sixth-generation fighter initiative is loosely known as the “F-X program” for the USAF and the “FA-XX” for the Navy.

Northrop Grumman released a concept drawing of a new sixth-generation fighter design last year which matches this teaser. The Northrop sixth-generation fighter will reportedly be the first incorporate a laser weapon from the start.

81 COMMENTS

  1. A rouse, and a decoy if you ask me. Any “real” new tech will be top secret. Besides, imagine a carrier or landing dock ship with over a thousand UAVs onboard. They’d be much more suited for the modern day theatre in urban areas and mixed with civies.

    • I respect your opinion, but the issue is “the human body” and G forces. The human body has limits to which modern fighters are exceeding. If taken out of the equation, a fighter could run circles around a manned fighter.
      I believe it’s a matter of time…

    • A valid point Kent. However, it depends on the current perceived threat as to which direction war fighting technology goes.
      At present there’s no competing technology umongst the perceived enemies to make the removal of the human politically necessary.
      For the present, there’s a need to keep the human in the loop I think.
      But, as you say time may change that. 😉

    • Nick…and without that “need”, the current service fleet should still dominate. The key piece of technology that has unleashed UAV technology has been Lithium Ion, driven by mobile phones and “increasingly smaller devices needing longer amp-hours”. That technology is still heavily invested in and being worked on…
      If there is another breakthrough in cell technology, we’ll have drones everywhere and that’s the catalyst for UAV warfare.

      • Although that may be true Kent.. Even aircraft are limited greatly by g forces and would rip apart if they went above 12 G with todays air frames and most ‘drones’ are barely reach mach 1 at the moment..

        Also with current technology and the fact the RAF have stated there is always a pilot in loop with a UAV, it would be difficult to dogfight or do much airiel combat compared to having a highly trained pilot on scene to look physically around with the mk1 eyeball. Sensors and cameras are not good enough in that kind of situation in Aerial combat.
        Lastly with the threat of UCAVS coming in you would of thought cyber warfare and jamming techniques would come in to play to fight back against a threat such as that or a hacking. It will evolve like counters to jamming will. Its one advantage a manned fighter has over a UCAV out of a few…

    • Yes, good point! So limiting the aircraft to 9.5g and adding an unnecessary 90kg for the pilot and about 250kg for the interface/windows etc. By 2030 we should see the first single crew commercial aircraft delivered.

  2. Whilst there are countries with budgets exceeding hundreds of billions of dollars on defence, the next generation of all military hardware’s will be in the pipeline. Defence is all about being as many steps ahead of your prospective adversaries as possible. With a heavily media hyped but potentially accurate statements on a new cold war with Russia and arguably already one in existence with China and US, there’s likely to be a ramp up of new designs and concepts…

  3. Looks like they’re still betting on radar not being able to detect stealth aircraft which seems a bit narrow minded for maybe 2035+

  4. I suspect it will be a long time before UAV replaces pilots in fighter jets. You can’t do dogfight style fights via link and so they will have to be fully computer controlled, and at least for the time being humans can out trick a computer.

    If a day comes where fighters rely purely on beyond visual range weapons (lazor, plasma etc) then there will be no need for pilots, but we aren’t there.

  5. Mislabeled as a “Fighter”, this design would be more accurately defined as either a “Tactical Bomber” (in size only, due to its relatively small warload capacity) or even better, a “Regional Bomber”. The layout is not conducive for maneuverability, instead, being more optimized for speed (supersonic cruise), and a lower radar profile from the front. Also possess a lifting body layout, so a possible concept for a higher altitude (ie; edge of space) operational realm. The animation shows barrel rolls, which is silly, serves no purpose, no application in a bomber. It is highly unlikely that NG will receive a contract to produce a fighter aircraft, the F-22 already occupies that requirement. NG’s expertise lies in Strategic Stealth Bomber design / fabrication, and that is the category in which we will see their next product emerge.

  6. Ah so now its now NG’s turn to fleece the US Taxpayer of $ Billions after LM and the F-35 and Boeing with the tanker. Its like ‘My turn next’ on the US Military spending merry go round …

    And for the record I think the F-35 will do OK as long as we are allowed to do OUR thing with OUR aircraft.

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