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Monday, February 19, 2018

Secrets of the sixth generation fighter: what have you learned


Recent wars, including the Syrian, clearly demonstrate that in a modern military conflict, victory is assured the party that has a powerful modern military aircraft. That is why the theme of the aircraft the next generation is not leaving the pages of the world media.

How is the combat aircraft of the future specialists? We analyzed their opinions and information sources in the Russian defense industry.


photo: Gennady Cherkasov

When the expert community raging controversy on the fighter 6th generation — what will it be: manned or unmanned, who was the first to build, usually at this point few people are wondering: do we need all the aircraft of the 6th generation? And, if needed, to whom and for what purpose?

A number of experts believe: conversations on the plane of the 6th generation premature. Modern armed forces, and not only Russian, special needs in it do not feel, however, as in the 5th generation. The basic characteristics of the machines of the 4th generation, maneuverability, speed, armament is worked out so that to satisfy the problems of modern war. Then, in these planes has great modernization potential, which allows their initial service life — 50 years — increasing by more than a third. This machine generations 4+ or 4++ military budget cost many times cheaper than the two products is still very questionable combat capabilities.

Is another argument: the air defense system in the modern world are developing much faster than aircraft. Our country is a world leader in the subject of air defense, but because some experts believe that we should continue to develop this direction, especially because it is much cheaper than building new fighters that are in combat will be shot down these the most modern means of air defense.

There are those who say that today the technology of aircraft has reached its limits. They would like ahead of time. And to create a following car, the 6th generation, there must be a revolutionary technological breakthrough, which is not yet in sight. But progress is impossible to contain. It’s hard to imagine the design thought will focus on the aircraft of the 5th generation, and the military agree: enough, we and those planes enough, others do not. So in different countries design and engineering with varying degrees of success is still moving in the direction of creating the aircraft of the 6th generation.

As long as humanity does not know exactly what technology will be available in the near term. Now, experts are ready a dotted line to indicate trends in the development of aircraft of the future.

***

Claim that the project of a fighter of 6th generation has a few countries: China, Russia and the United States. Europeans also make the attempt, following the path of the drone, created by technology “stealth”, which is developed by the engineers of the group Dassault nEUROn. But beyond all moved to the States.

At least from official sources it is known that the American project of such a plane is called the F/A-XX. It is a double fighter with two engines. The maximum takeoff weight at 45 tons, range — 3000 km. the Creation of the F/A-XX, the Pentagon has instructed the firm “Boeing”, which should make it to 2030.

In 2009, the Americans even showed drawings of this machine. Although later in the process, the original appearance of the plane changed dramatically. But the basic things remained. For example, the airframe is a “flying wing” without a vertical tail where the keel creates extra wind resistance, and the rotation is due to the small rudders located on the wing. During straight flight the rudders are removed and are available only while maneuvering.

As for the tactics of its application, the chief of naval operations Jonathan Grinet recently mentioned in passing that the speed and secrecy of the new aircraft will not be a priority. Main — range target detection and attack from great distances, from which we can conclude that for melee where the car needed maneuverability, it is not adapted.

It is known that the US is creating and unmanned machine that can be a medium laser or electromagnetic weapons. But it allegedly stalled due to problems with the power plant.

Over the aircraft of the 6th generation is quite active China. There is a multi-role fighter of “hung the moon” — “Fire dragon”. Chinese media reports that it create a few dozen developers from Russia. Unlike the American counterpart of the Chinese plane is created as a super-maneuverable machine, which is not surprising as it is the maneuverability has always been considered a fad is the Russian design school.

According to the news Agency, Shanghai, Chinese “dragon” will have “the pulsed Doppler radar is responsible for detecting and tracking ground targets and air targets, including large aerial objects”: “It’s able to block some dangerous immediate objectives. On the back of the appliance equipped with special electronic equipment. Radar system with tip-off allows you to set the nationality of the object. The antenna is able to see the front of the fighter at a distance of about 150-180 km and rear at distances up to 90 km, also allows to detect tanks at a distance of 60-90 km, at a distance of 150-180 km to see sea object. Aircraft radar able to simultaneously track 20 air targets and simultaneously attack 8 nearby objects”.

The mechanism of control over the armed Chinese aircraft will include the laser and optical setup, a radar sighting system and the latest navigation system.

***

Data on the prospects of Russian fighter 6th generation comes highly controversial. Some experts say that the conversations on this topic far from the realm of science fiction. Others, however, argue that the theme of the 6th generation is in the stage of ideas and formation tasks. Some even claim that the work is in full swing, the machine will fly in 2023-2025 years, and will be fully ready in 2030, and will be called MiG-41.

We have long been debating about what will be the new fighter aircraft: manned or unmanned? Those who defended the version of the drone, saying the human body has many physiological limitations, which deprived drone. For the pilot aboard provides life support and evacuation, which increases the machine. If it is removed, the aircraft will be lighter and more maneuverable. Those who advocated a manned variant, emphasized the moral aspect: is it possible to entrust soulless robot deciding who to kill and who not?

Now, as they say in the defense industry, a consensus was found: the plane will create in two ways. Thus manned and unmanned machines will operate in a group, or as they say in the pack, where manned aircraft on the one or two pilots is the command post for 3-4 unmanned machines that nothing will prevent you to perform breathtaking maneuvers without fear of overload, to reach hypersonic speeds and to go out into near space (approximately, but fully manned version, today already used the MiG-31BM).

I think designers will be very important moment of interaction between several “flocks” of aircraft. For example, the first aviation group, headed manned machine carries out fighting tasks in the same area, and the second in another, thousands of miles away from her. If the first “flock” is a serious loss, the second pilot should be able to take them both for yourself or to share their aircraft.

It is planned that the maximum design speed reaches 5 M (five times the speed of sound), as cruising without afterburner, not below 2 M. this new plane should be much easier for his predecessors, that is, it should be done from light and heavy-duty materials to meet a variety of requirements: thermal stability, mechanical strength, absorption of radiation by enemy radar, low values of thermal radiation

And this kind of materials is needed not only to create a powerful thermal insulation of the cabin crew or the airframe, which at tremendous speeds is a powerful air friction, but also for engines. They need protection from superheated air which comes from air intakes. Such materials we do not yet possess, and today it may become, according to experts, the main problem faced in the last century the designers of the American high altitude bomber XB-70 “Valkyrie”, conceived for the strategic air command of the United States.

This aircraft was to replace the B-52. His delivery was scheduled for 1963. But the main problem is the XB-70 “Valkyrie” was that the plane, though it was made of titanium and stainless steel, weighed about 230 tons, and during the flight at a speed of 2.5–3 M was heated up to 3000 degrees. Then the designers were not able to overcome this problem, the project was reduced to the status of research.

That’s why, I think designers, if that does not solve the problem of new materials today, then tomorrow about any aircraft of the 6th generation of speech can not be.

***

When you are creating a new generation of aircraft will also solve the problem of invisibility, that is “stealth”technology, as the machine needs to withstand not only the existing air defense systems and radar, but also their future modifications.

In respect of “stealth”technologies Russia and the United States has long adhered to the different points of view. The Americans claimed that it is possible to sacrifice maneuverability in favor of stealth. Russian designers thought otherwise, saying that “stealth” for the sake of “stealth” extremely narrows the range of combat use of aircraft, although the technology is very expensive.

This plane can not carry enough weapons as it is hidden in the fuselage (external suspension unmask the machine). It is limited in speed and range and with great care forced to use the radar, and even without it, because the radar radiation gives even the most invisible plane in the same way as the beam of a flashlight in the dark.

But still the main difference of the Russian approach is that, according to domestic experts, maneuverability in a modern military aircraft is becoming increasingly important. This contributes to a number of factors: first, the “stealth”effect is achieved in a very narrow frequency range, and secondly, rapidly moving forward everything related to radar and electronic warfare (EW), and third, the US is rapidly losing monopoly over sole possession of planes of new generations.

That is, we cannot exclude the possibility that in the air as the opponents you can meet two inconspicuous “stealth”-fighter, belonging to different countries. In this case, combat tactics back to the past, when maneuverability is not just important, but crucial.

When two aircraft in a duel situation, flying towards each other, really discreet important — the one who later is detected, receives a tactical advantage, is better placed and has time to prepare the attack. But such cases in a real fight is very small, as modern air combat, as a rule, group. Alone, no one flies. And in this case, the first plan starts to go maneuverability.

Even in our days, not to mention the future of dogfight is an invisible battle electromagnetic rays at a distance of hundreds of kilometers, where on the battlefield the aircraft can appear at the last moment. Therefore, the effect of surprise, as before, is half the battle. And, according to Russian experts, it is possible to achieve a much more reliable, simple and cheap ways than the “stealth”technology. At the same time, they say, finally to abandon the “stealth”technologies nobody is going to just should not be their priority to the detriment of the more important combat characteristics.

***

The new aircraft must be equipped with the latest weapons. It is planned that it will stand railguns, microwave range, which will be able to disable the electronics of enemy aircraft. However, a number of experts believe that this is just a project — it is very distant future.

They also say that the plane of the 6th generation will be equipped with long range hypersonic missiles, capable of operating in air, ground and sea targets. And they will act according to the principle of “free hunting”. That is, will be able to assign main and secondary targets, distributing them among the members of the “pack” for successive destruction.

Another topic — protection of the Russian fighter jet 6th generation. It is constantly discussed in the West. For example, the British Daily Mail wrote that the powerful installation of its rays will just burn out the “eyes” of the enemy missiles, destroying their heads homing systems.

There is no doubt that the aircraft will be equipped with a new reduction system of electronic warfare. Each unit can perform multiple functions. That is one and the same instrument and the radar and electronic warfare system, and means of communication, while performing other functions navigation and IFF systems. To operate such a unit can, given the collective actions of the entire group of forces.

…However, all the talk about the capabilities of the fighter 6th generation is more like speculation and thinking out loud all sorts of experts and specialists. Representatives of the defense industry and aviacionnyy any official statements on this matter try to avoid. Their words about the prospects of development of military aviation are much more down to earth. For example, recently the Minister of industry and trade Denis Manturov announced that a test of the Russian fighter 5th generation su-57 (or PAK FA — promising aviation complex tactical aviation) with a new, specially designed engine will last about three years. That is, the plane of the 5th generation of our military to wait at least another three years.

How many years of waiting the plane of the 6th generation, I think, do not know yet neither the military nor the Ministers.

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