Skip to comments.Lockheed reveals bold technology plans with 6th-gen fighter concept
Posted on 01/04/2012 8:02:11 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Lockheed reveals bold technology plans with 6th-gen fighter concept
By: Stephen Trimble Washington DC
Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works division has revealed a conceptual next-generation fighter design that offers the first hints of an ambitious, long-term technology strategy for the new class of tactical aircraft that will emerge after 2030.
The concept - published in a 2012 calendar distributed to journalists - indicates the company will continue to seek new breakthroughs in performance despite the risk-averse culture of today's weapons buyers in the US military.
Featuring an F-22-like nose, an unusually contoured wing and nearly flat canted tails, the concept suggests a new level of speed and agility.
Lockheed also seemed to take a thinly-veiled shot at a next generation fighter concept released in September by Boeing, which showed a manned and optionally manned, tailless fighter with a conventional wing.
"Simply removing the pilot from an aircraft or introducing incremental improvements in signature and range does not constitute a generational leap in capability," Lockheed said in response to Flightglobal's questions.
"These improvements are already being looked att for our fifth generation fighters," the company added.
Instead, possible technologies for a next-generation fighter should include "greatly increased speed", more range and new features like self-healing structures and multi-spectral stealth, the company said.
Such capabilities must be supported by new breakthroughs in propulsion, materials, power generation and weapons, Lockheed said, adding some of these are "yet to be fully imagined".
Lockheed acknowledged that breakthrough performance will not come cheap.
"This will require another significant investment in research and development from a standpoint of time and money," the company said.
So far, USAF leaders have not been committal about plans for a sixth-generation fighter to replace the F-22 after 2030. The air force is instead focused on buying 1,763 F-35As to replace the F-16 and A-10 fleets. New development funding is largely devoted to fielding a next generation bomber by the end of the decade.
Meanwhile, the USAF has initiated the first steps towards working on a next generation fighter. In November 2010, the Air Combat Command asked companies to submit ideas for the technologies and performance for a new fighter that would appear in 20 years. The Air Force Research Laboratory also is funding research on basic technologies that could feed into a sixth generation fighter programme.
Skynet? (Terminator reference).
‘cause that “drone” thing worked so well in Iran.
I keep thinking of a story by Kurt Vonnegut where there is a constant war where both sides had pilotless weapons so smart that they fight each other to a stalemate, one side cannot gain any ground on the other and vice versa. Then somebody gets an idea of putting people back in the cockpits of aircraft as well as manned kamakaze missiles to reintroduce the human element that artificial intelligence always has a hard time predicting human actions and keeping up. It is called “The Manned Missiles” and was published in 1958.
Why don’t they just use the anti-gravity and inertial damping systems recovered at Roswell?
How much have the F-35 and F-22 cost?
You asked the 64 billion dollar question. With the chinese reverse engineering everything they can get their hands on it may be the production process that is the only secret. And that is largely a matter of how much they cost.
Norm Augustine, former CEO of Lockeed Martin
I need a like to the pic. The one in the story is broken.
That was what I was thinking..you would think in 2030 about ninety years after Roswell, Area 51 etc that they could have figured all that alien stuff out :)
With that attitude, we wouldn't have ever had aircraft, because they ALWAYS screw up.
It's a dangerous business.
Now, if there was a 80% failure rate on drones, I might agree with you that it's not quite time, yet.
But how many recent drone crashes, besides that one, can you name? How many air hours do drones have without incident?
Time to move forward and work out the problems, and make it work.
If Iran can bring down a state of the art US drone.
Russia or the PRC can hijack a US pilotless fighter, and perhaps even use it against us.
Re-start the F-22 production lines. NOW.
And Iran might have something there again too ... like last month...
for every advantage there a disadvantage...
and remote robot planes have weak link major disadvantage...
a data link that can be jammed, cut, or cracked....
a many million dollar plane that has all the keys to all you latest bleeding edge technology is something it might be wise to have some one in locally control(like a pilot)
Funny no one will every risk having a remote control pilot-less robot airliner...
not even if it only a cargo hauler...to risky.....
but put your national defense secrets at the same risk...no problem
Heck, in WWII, our torpedoes were mostly useless for a part of the war.
We didn't whine about it, we didn't say it couldn't be done. We knuckled down and figured it out.
Nobody is whining.
More than a bit of denial going on though.
Restart the F-22 lines.
Man right there is no guarantee of safeguarding the technology.
A master zeroize tac nuke, however, is. ;)
The planes keep getting faster and more agile but it’s the humans who have to catch up...we can only take so many G’s. I could imagine a turn so sharp it could snap the neck or pop out the eyeballs.
I believe the F22 has programmed fail safes which keeps the plane under certain parameters, otherwise the pilot will GLOC.
By the way, does it turn into a Robotech fighter?
What a wonderful opportunity to show a concept plane on the 2012 calendar that may be operational within 19 years.
Why don’t we just publish it’s cad/cam design so all of our enemies won’t have to spend lots of $$$ in the next 19 years to best our latest technology?
As a government, we are so stupid!
Remember, loose lips, sink ships!
We're talking about next generation fighters, and it takes time to put one together. Now is time to start thinking about what replaces the F-22.
I believe in not fighting the last war.
Things work out so much better when you think and act ahead.
We have a generation of kids trained from birth practically on ever more realistic video games. You can bet that most Reaper etc ‘pilots’ had a copy of Ace Combat/ Falcon or similar back in high school and in their barracks now.
Once the military gets building/buying actual dogfighter type drones, there is an endless supply of ‘pilots’ about 50 % trained before they ever sign up for service.
Put him/her in a VR cockpit with a 360 view and the need for manned fighters is all but eliminated.
Maneuverability...through the roof.
Fear of death....gone.
Drones are a great idea, though we should always have real pilots because there is the very real danger of the communication tech between ‘pilot’ and craft being hacked. That’s the only downside I can imagine to drone warfare.
Heck, even more F-15’s and F-16’s would be nice along with a lower cost tier like an F-5, perhaps the updated F-20 variant would do. (The F-5/20 is a fave of mine)
Wait... Didn't that happen during Gulf War I? Didn't we send hundreds of robot drones (cruise missiles) off to fly to their destination and take out their targets without human intervention?
Why, yes, it did happen.
We've already got robot wars. We need to get better than everybody else faster than everybody else.
If some kid trained from birth to fly a virtual jet from the Nevada desert can fly an American plane with a huge arsenal.
A kid trained from birth to fly a virtual jet from the steppes of Kazakhistan or Xinjiang, can fly an American plane with a huge arsenal, as long as they’ve got access to the right technology, satellites and hacks - the sort of resources adversarial nations have. In fact, it’s increasingly likely that’s where some of the technology was produced.
America is not alone in knowing how to do things.
In fact, the more we outsource, the more such technology we LOSE.
The more vulnerable we become, to being trumped at even our very best.
“Free trade” is dangerous.
I cannot deny a word of what you wrote.
Very true, but I was getting at a dogfighting kind of scenario.
Personally I’m all for the big bomb approach. I do not in any way agree with or understand the concept of ‘limited warfare.” If we are going to go to war as a country, we should go total, win and go home.
And to hell with the UN.
A large part of the cost of any AC project is man-rating it. Same with space.
Lots of hoops to jump through for that.
"Anything you can imagine we already know how to do."-Ben Rich, Lockheed Chief, Skunkworks
Other Ben Rich quotes:
"The U. S. Air Force has just given us a contract to take E. T. back home."
"We also know how to travel to the stars."
"If you've seen it in Star Trek or Star Wars, we've been there and done that."
"We have things in the Nevada desert that are alien to your way of thinking far beyond anything you see on Star Trek."
Our current pilots get our robot dogfighters (missiles) close, and then pickle them off to go do the manuevers that would kill a pilot.
As I've said. We've already got robot wars. We need to get better at it faster than everybody else.
Even split the difference. It’s not that complex to create a system where if the direct link from American Military satX is cut or interfered with, the drone cuts communication, goes full auto and flies back to base.
If China etc get around that then they have control of the satellites and we are dead anyway.
Which involves data links, which can be hacked, or spoofed.
Just like a drone.
We won't have years, like we did in WWII to fix problems, learn on the job and get it right.
We need to get ahead of the (potential) enemy, and be inside his OODA loop.
And I don't particularly care where that leads us technically. I'm not one to make a piece of hardware a fetish. It works, or I make something that does.
Years ago, I read something like that. Some tech reverse engineered some old artifact and figured out how to do math in his head.
“And I don’t particularly care where that leads us technically. I’m not one to make a piece of hardware a fetish. It works, or I make something that does.”
Tangent time but I promise to tie this together ;)
Short version - I spent years as the Ed of an Off-Road motorsport site and dealt with enviro issues pertaining to land closures etc. Biggest lesson learned was that the regulations caused by the green commie groups to further their desire to wreck the concept of America, lie at the heart of most of our current problems. The voting public however refuses to accept the feel-good whale warriors don’t really want to save anything but Marxism.
Now, to the point...
Columbia vaporized over eco correct foam damaged a heat tile. Greens banned the stuff that worked for a couple decades over flourocarbons.
Training grounds, facilities across the globe have been shut down or heavily restricted over the endangered snarfblat and cactus feelgoodicus.
The technologies used in creating, maintaining etc our greatest weapons have been blacklisted at worst and generally legislated to a bare level of usability by OSHA and unions.
I totally agree that we gotta be better faster yesterday. And until we as a people give the infection that is the left a shot of right wing penicillin, we are well and truly blanked. That’s really the one and only thing stopping us and has been for 50 years. We forfeited our exceptionalism to embrace liberalism. Every single problem in the world today has it’s roots in the left at some level.
Kinda look like this:
I anxiously await the day when Mr. And Mrs. America realize that security clearances at bases and defense contractors aren’t designed so much to stop Chineese esponiage, but are the only “legal” way to keep Greenies out of/and from litigating any progress we CAN make technologically.
People should ponder the deeper meanings of that at their next yoga session.
TeH SeX! Someone flattened and shrunk an SR71 ;)
Short story... Daughter is AF and works with all the cool new semi-invesible flying things. She hadn’t ever seen a 71 in real life until we went to the Museum/graveyard in AZ.
She stood mouth agape at that piece of 1950s tech for some time. Amazing what we can do when we really want to.
I saw my first SR-71 in the flesh a few summers back. For basically “ancient” design and technology- its still pretty incredible.
For SR fans, there’s a book called “Sled Driver” by one of the pilots. It’s a limited edition and VERY expensive. Excerpts are available online. The stories of that thing over Libya are incredible.
I’’ll see if I can find the link.
These are only the planes they want us to know about.
Right here on FR ;)
Probably overall the best plane ever made, comparing a majority of different performance parameters.
yea, in the unlikely event you lose a drone , the Iranians will not have an American pilot to parade around blindfolded as is their want. Seems like the operational factors make drones very attractive. They can loiter over target areas for many hours and not get bored, they are hard to pick up on radar, and can deliver a surgical deathblow with a push of a button.
They cost way less to build, maintain, and fly.
seems like a many win situation to me.
If things don't change, in 2054 the entire revenue of the United States will be used to pay interest on our debt. There will be no defence budget.
You just described how it it that unmanned missiles can hit even the best human-piloted aircraft...