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Boeing's Sixth Generation Fighter Concept

Sixth Generation Fighters are the currently conceptual new generation of fighter aircraft, which are expected to be operational in the 2030-2050 timeframe, in comparison to the current Fifth Generation Fighters they will be superior in terms of speed, range, stealth and self-healing structures.


Because of new Russian and Chinese Fifth Generation Fighters, which will compete with the F-22 Raptor in the Air and the F-35 Lightning II on market place, the US Air Force is searching for technologies for an aircraft with enhanced capabilities in areas such as reach, persistence, survivability, net-centricity, situational awareness, human-system integration and weapons effects the Russians are also working on concepts for a 6th generation aircraft .

Currently Boeing is working on concepts and studies for the F/A-XX fighter program, to develop a successor to the F/A-18E/F Hornet carrier-based aircraft, and soon may also replace 5th generation aircraft like the F-22 raptor and F-35 Lightning.


There are also several critical opinions on 6th Gen fighters, such as the costly new technologies employed in the fighters, especially their stealthiness, which is considered a critical factor in combat, raises the cost due to a higher amount of effort required to develop and maintain these airframes. However, when the 6th Generation fighters are made, the maintenance cost for its stealthiness could also be lower, due to better experience, the same development can be seen when comparing the F-22 and the F-35, the F-22, as an "older" aircraft has higher maintenance costs, while on the F-35, the cost of maintaining its stealthiness is lower, due to newer and more efficient methods, even though the F-35's cost is still rising.


Lockheed's 6th Generation Fighter Concept

Proposed differences to 5th Generation Fighters[]

The greatest advantage to 5th Generation fighters is supposed be stealth, the appearance of newer detection systems and more advanced radars will require a new super stealthy aircraft design to counter counter stealth; a much smaller Radar cross section than on current stealth aircraft like the F-22 Raptor, B-2 Spirit, and unsuccessful designs like the YF-23 Black Widow II will be also needed. A new generation of engines allowning ultra high altitude flight and supercruise speed a lot faster than on current fighters, as well as a new generation of armament like directed energy weapons to attack enemies with the speed of light, are planned to be included.

Their avionics are supposed to feature next generation electronic attacks, passive detection, integrated self-protection and cyber attack capabilities.

In summing up sixth gen fighters are expected to outperform current 5th Gen fighters in terms of speed, range, stealth, self-healing structures and to provide the same "technological leap" against modern 5th Gen fighters, as employed by the F-22 Raptor against Soviet 4th Gen fighters like the Su-27 or MiG-29 in the 1990's.