Forget the F-35 or F-22: Why 6th Generation Jet Fighters Could Be Revolutionary
The American development and deployment of Fifth-Generation stealth aircraft like the F-35 Lightning is one of the central stories of today’s security zeitgeist. But behind the scenes, several countries are already looking ahead to the design of a Sixth-Generation jet fighter.
The Sixth-Generation jet fighter developers can be divided into two categories: the United States, which has developed and deployed two stealth fighter types, and countries that have skipped or given up on their attempt to build Fifth Generations jets fighter. These latter countries have concluded that doing so is so time-consuming and expensive that it makes more sense to focus on tomorrow’s technology than try to catch up with today’s.
The various Sixth-Generation concepts mostly feature many of the same u.s military technologies. Two critical characteristics of Fifth-Generation fighters will remain centrally important to the Sixth: stealthy airframes and long-range missiles. As cost-effective ground-based air defense systems like the RussiaS-400 can now threaten vast swathes of airspace, stealth aircraft need to be capable of penetrating ‘anti-access/area-denial’ bubbles and eliminate air defense from a safe distance. Additionally, stealth jets also steeply out-perform non-stealth aircraft in aerial-war-games.
Credit Military Power 2020