Author Topic: USAF now looking to swarms rather than 6th gen fighter  (Read 4282 times)

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Offline Thucydides

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USAF now looking to swarms rather than 6th gen fighter
« on: June 16, 2016, 00:07:49 »
Interestign conversion taking place here, rather than thinking about new platforms, the USAF and USN are looking at networks and swarms of devices to carry out missions. While there are lots of conceptual issues with this approach (cyber attack, jamming and attacking the physical emitters all come to mind), this is certainly new thinking on the part of the USAF:

http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/06/us-air-force-and-navy-look-to.html

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US Air Force and Navy look to operationalize a future system of systems by 2025 instead of building a Sixth Generation fighter

The USAir Force’s new view – that the F-22 and F-35 replacement may be a system of systems and would include unmanned aerial vehicles – puts the service squarely in line with the Navy. In 2015 Navy Secretary Ray Mabus predicted that the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter would be the last traditional manned fighter the Navy would buy. In January the Navy began a requirements study for the Next Generation Air Dominance program – the effort formerly known as F/A-XX, or the sixth-generation fighter program – and Navy aviation leadership told USNI News that the effort would be conducted with input from the Navy but not in a joint manner.

The US Air force is looking for faster and more flexible upgrades of components and modules of a larger system.

Various aspects of a future System of Systems

integrated network systems
operationalize combat-focused space and cyber forces
increase range and payload
increase speed, manoeuvrability and stealth for the air space penetration components
Modest investments will also be made to upgrade and life-extending fourth-generation aircraft and modernize the F-22 Raptor
Leverage automation and machine learning

The goal is to operationalize a future air superiority network by 2025.

The sixth generation fighter project (F-X) would have turned into a 20 to 30-year development program. Instead, the Air Force plans to start an AOA in January, 2017, to look at options for “what we can get short of a 20 or 30 year leap". The planning effort, called “Next Generation Air Dominance,” is scheduled to be complete by the middle of 2018.

The US Air Force will likely leverage existing bombers into Arsenal planes with more drones and missiles.

The Air Force seems likely to integrate with the US Navy's vision of a kill web or tactical cloud. They will put data up in the cloud and users are going to go grab it and use it as a contributor to a targeting solution.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: USAF now looking to swarms rather than 6th gen fighter
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2016, 18:35:40 »
Russia's forecasting of what they see as a 6th generation fighter:

http://rbth.com/defence/2016/09/02/what-will-6th-generation-fighters-be-like-in-the-us-and-russia_626557

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What will 6th-generation fighters be like in the U.S. and Russia?
September 2, 2016 MIKHAIL KHODARENOK, GAZETA.RU
Early development work on a sixth-generation fighter is underway in the U.S. and Russia. Military experts discuss the type of aircraft that may appear in the foreseeable future, and how soon we could realistically expect to see these planes in the skies.

The U.S. is studying potential tactics in aerial battles and the technologies that will be necessary to dominate the skies in the future. Conceptual views have been formed into a collection of requirements called "Next Generation Air Dominance" (NGAD). Sometimes this document is also called "Penetrating Counter Air.”

“We need to have something by the late 2020s," said Brigadier General Alexus Grynkewich, who participated in the Air Superiority 2030 program, in an interview with Defense News.

“I think a realistic timeline is somewhere around 2028 with key investments in some key technology areas, you’d be able to have some initial operational capability of a penetrating counter air capability," he explained.

Next Generation Air Dominance

American analysts believe that the future dominance of the U.S. air force will be based not only on one platform, such as the sixth-generation fighter. Most likely this will be a sort of family network of systems.

Work on this issue is currently being conducted at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, where new technologies are being studied and precise NGAD requirements are being developed. The key to success will be simultaneous projects on the development of engines, avionics and weapons, which will then be integrated into the sixth-generation fighter.

"NGAD, like other fighter jets, will need to be able to penetrate enemy air defenses and enter contested spaces, but it will also need to be able to operate at greater distances than current platforms," Grynkewich explained.

Hypersonic and pilotless

Work on sixth-generation fighters is also being carried out in Russia.

Back in March 2016, Colonel General Viktor Bondarev, the commander of Russia’s air force, announced that a sixth-generation fighter was being developed, as well as a seventh-generation one.

Afterwards, Vladimir Mikhailov, a representative of the United Aviation Construction Company, said that the sixth-generation fighter would be airborne by 2023. Then, in July, Vladimir Mikheyev, and advisor to the deputy general director of the Radioelectronic Technologies Concern, said that the sixth-generation planes will have space capacities and will be pilotless. This means that they will be able to enter near space and their command will be optional: The pilot can be taken aboard or the plane can fly without him.

According to Bondarev, "the possibility of pilotless use is one of the requirements of the sixth-generation fighter," adding that the airplane must know how to "fly at hypersonic speed, be multifunctional, super-maneuverable and unnoticeable."

Just talk for now

According to independent military expert Anton Lavrov, there are plans to create a Russian sixth-generation fighter, but there is “no understanding of how it should look, which technologies it should use and which competitors it will have to face.”

For example, there are many problems with hypersonic planes. The U.S. has repeatedly tried to conduct tests at hypersonic speeds. However, most of the prototypes could not fly for just a few minutes in such a flight mode.

"Before speaking about a sixth-generation plane we must first bring the fifth-generation one to operative condition,” said editor-in-chief of Export Vooruzhenii (Weapons Export) magazine Andrei Frolov.

“A sixth-generation plane must obviously be developed. However, I would not make any statements about our potential fighter getting into the air in six years, in 2023. We’ll be able to get some kind of model up, sure. But will this be a sixth-generation plane?" he said.

Editor-in-chief of Vzlyot (Take-off) magazine Andrei Fomin notes that nothing is known about any type of document determining the plane's conception.

"That is why we cannot say now what the sixth-generation fighter will be like – piloted or pilotless, hypersonic or not. For now this is just discussion and preliminary scientific studies," said Fomin.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF now looking to swarms rather than 6th gen fighter
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2019, 11:38:05 »
Does seem as if USAF moving away from actual sixth-generation NGAD fighter:

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1) U.S. Air Force Family Of Systems Trumps Next-Generation Fighter

For the U.S. Air Force, the succession of era-defining fighters—World War II’s P-51, the Korean War’s F-86, the Vietnam War’s F-4, the Cold War’s F-15 and the F-22 today—is over. The future of air superiority belongs to a collection of capabilities, such as aircraft and satellites new and familiar integrated on a shared network and fighting as a team. 

Once considered the Air Force’s straightforward replacement program for the Lockheed Martin F-22, the budget line for Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) reflects this philosophical sea change in airpower acquisition. The focus has shifted from delivering the F-22’s highly anticipated successor to creating an environment that enables a networked force of old and new capabilities, which may or may not include a new aircraft. The point is not to develop a new aircraft, but rather to leverage capabilities to achieve air superiority in multiple domains including air, space and cyberspace.

Next-Generation Air Dominance shifts away from new “widgets”

Long-term strategy does not rule out new aircraft for F-22 replacement

“We see [NGAD] as an enterprise challenge,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Fantini, director of warfighting integration capability, at the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute on Aug. 7.

Any discussion that starts with a question about a specific platform for NGAD is eschewed. The aircraft is just the “truck.” The future is in the technology that connects a disparate set of platforms, including some, such as the F-22, that were designed specifically to not connect with other platforms...
https://aviationweek.com/defense/us-air-force-family-systems-trumps-next-generation-fighter

2) Lots more, with further links, videos, images:

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"B-21s With Air-To-Air Capabilities," Drones, Not 6th Gen Fighters To Dominate Future Air Combat
The Air Force's vision of the future of aerial combat has evolved greatly as of late and has moved away from plans for new, costly manned fighters.

he U.S. Air Force is still working to iron out just what it thinks air-to-air combat will look like a decade from now and what types of aircraft it will need to come out on top in any future fight. As part of its ongoing Next Generation Air Dominance program, or NGAD, the service is exploring a wide array of manned, unmanned, and pilot-optional concepts, as well as advanced associated technologies, including increased network connectivity and autonomous capabilities. At the same time, however, it has steadily moved away from plans for a once much-touted sixth-generation fighter jet.

A number of senior Air Force leaders have offered updates about NGAD recently, all of who stressed that the final force mixture will include a variety of different platforms, as well as munitions and other systems, all tied together at various levels. This could include manned aircraft networked together with “loyal wingman” drones, fully autonomous unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAV), swarms of low-cost unmanned aircraft, and more.

“If we were to characterize it [NGAD] as a fighter, we would be… thinking too narrowly about what kind of airplane we need in a highly contested environment,” U.S. Air Force Major General Scott Pleus, who is currently Director of Air and Cyber Operations for Pacific Air Forces, recently told Air Force Magazine. “A B-21 [Raider stealth bomber] that also has air-to-air capabilities” and can “work with the family of systems to defend itself, utilizing stealth – maybe that’s where the sixth-generation airplane comes from.”..

Of course, while the Air Force is clearly still very far from settling on any mix of platforms that will provide its future tactical air combat capabilities, there are some indications as to where the service’s general thoughts may be trending. PCA had initially focused heavily on some form of manned sixth-generation fighter jet, but as NGAD has evolved, it has steadily shifted more and more toward unmanned and pilot-optional concepts linked together by powerful networks so that they can operate at least semi-autonomously, if not autonomously, as necessary.

“[NGAD] really does diverge away from a platform-centric way of doing air superiority,” Major General Pleus explained Air Force Magazine. “We’re going to have to up our game in all areas.”

In the future, manned aircraft may still act as limited, centralized forward controllers for the Air Force’s unmanned air combat fleets. At the same time, the Air Force is actively exploring systems that could potentially rapidly turn any aircraft into an autonomous platform as part of its Skyborg program. Though the Air Force has declined to confirm if this remains the case, the service had previously decided that the B-21 Raider itself would be pilot optional, as well.

The unmanned components of NGAD, whatever they turn out to be, may be more complex than just pure drones that may or may not be capable of working together with manned aircraft as “loyal wingmen,” too. An emphasis on modular physical structures, as well as software architecture, offers the possibility that a platform that begins in one form may quickly grow into one that can operate with or without crew and with or without any kind of direction from a manned aircraft or a ground station.

In addition, the line between aerial weapons and unmanned aircraft may also become increasingly blurry. For years now, the Air Force has been touting plans to develop and acquire fleets of unmanned aircraft that will be “attritable.” This is typically understood to mean that they are cheap enough to procure that commanders can use them in riskier ways without worrying about the costs to replace them, but it is not supposed to be a synonym for “expendable” or “disposable.” The prime example of such a system is Kratos’ XQ-58A Valkyrie drone, which the Air Force is now experimenting with...
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/29690/b-21s-with-air-to-air-capabilities-drones-not-6th-gen-fighters-to-dominate-future-air-combat

Mark
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Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: USAF now looking to swarms rather than 6th gen fighter
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2019, 12:14:23 »
Does seem as if USAF moving away from actual sixth-generation NGAD fighter:

2) Lots more, with further links, videos, images:

Mark
Ottawa

I was first introduced to this concept in 1987 at RMCS Shrivenham and, I assume, it was an idea that was in play long before that. Nice to see it finally coming off the drawing board, apparently.
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