With 6th Generation fighter are already Taking shape,Is Time for India to Start Developing 6th Gen Fighter?

A sixth-generation jet fighter is a conceptualized class of fighter aircraft design more advanced than the fifth-generation jet fighters that are currently in service and in development. Several countries have announced the development of a sixth-generation aircraft program, including the United States, Japan, Russia, Germany, India,China, Russia and the United Kingdom.

The United States Air Force (USAF) and United States Navy (USN) are anticipated to field their first sixth-generation fighters in the 2025–30 time frame.The USAF is pursuing development and acquisition of a sixth-generation fighter through the Penetrating Counter Air to replace its existing air superiority aircraft such as the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle and complement existing platforms in service such as the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. The USN is pursuing a similar program called the Next Generation Air Dominance, likewise intended to complement smaller Lockheed F-35 and replace its existing aircraft such as the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

The U.S., for instance, has been working on their sixth gen F/A-XX programme since its announcement in 2014. XX stands for a unique number, like 22 in the case of the F- 22 Raptor, that would take numeric form once the prototype sees the light of day. The fighter jet will have state of the art technology that would help it attain higher speeds and altitudes as compared to other jets.

The idea is to employ Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology or ADVENT to these next gen fighter jets, in order to help them achieve better fuel economy as well as hermeneutic cruise speeds. These jets can also be launched and land on the U.S.’s swanky new $16 billion warship USS Gerald R. Ford CVN-78. But that’s not all.

These fighter jets will also be covered in smart skins that will be built out of sensors and communicative channels that will gather information from all available sources, like satellites, and keep the pilot updated.

The best features of the fighter jet that caught our eye, at least, were improved stealth mechanisms that make it difficult to be detected and the possibility of flying it unmanned, because a reduced number of casualties is a sign of true advancement.

A 6th-generation combat aircraft would need to travel substantially faster and with less fuel intake than current 4.5th- and 5th-generation jets. After a plane achieves Mach 1 without afterburners, i.e. in supercruise mode, it can achieve faster speeds with relatively less energy. The variable cycle engine will possibly advance propulsion to speeds that are three to four times the speed of sound. At present, flying at these speeds has been achieved for only short periods of time. An engine that can sustain Mach 3 to 4 and maintain fuel efficiency would be a dramatic technological development. Some posit that a 6th-generation jet may be able to achieve hypersonic travel (five times the speed of sound or more), although most industry insiders doubt this would be possible by 2030, barring a revolution in engine technology. But hypersonic fight entails a whole new range of materials development, for sensors, fuzes, apertures, etc to ensure which must operate in that intense heat environment at … Mach 5-plus

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Use of electric propulsion for SiGFA is an another possibility. A prototype of the first Japan-made stealth fighter X-2 Shinshin, formerly called ATD-X may be equipped with powerful batteries and electric motors. Such a hybrid would take advantage of a jet engine’s speed and use electric generators so as to give power to directed-energy weapons, including lasers. It would also fly at low speeds.

6th-generation fighter jets may also be able to initiate self-healing repairs while in the air .Lockheed Martin is currently working on an airplane prototype that has mechanical veins running throughout its external structure. These veins are filled with two products (a liquid resin and a hardener) that would immediately solidify upon contact with air. If any of these veins break, i.e. the plane is damaged; the resin and hardener would immediately fill cracks and reinforce vulnerable areas of the aircraft.

Next-generation aircraft will combine all of these features into a more detailed and comprehensive system. The range of the sensors will dramatically increase as well as their ability to recognise relevant battle developments and process complex mission planning. Instead of separate sensors and radar, the entire skin of a 6th-generation fighter could function as a large integrated sensor .Through improvements in nano-technology and composite skins, sensor capabilities could be embedded in areas of a jet previously off-limits due to heat and surface reasons. This would present a much more comprehensive view of the battlefield. The sensor skin would give the plane increased processing capabilities and possibly automatic target recognition capabilities. In short, the aircraft would be able to automatically identify objects, buildings, and even people.

The possibility of the next sixth generation fighter being fully autonomous is minimal. However, some form of artificial intelligence that integrates sensors and information will be possible. Using artificial intelligence we can make the aircraft “smart”, to learn and propose the best possible action to the controlling crew/ pilot. The aircraft will collect its own data and seamlessly fuse it with off-board sensors, including those on other aircraft.

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For India which has started working on the development of 4.5 Generation Tejas MK1A and MCW (MK2) fighter jet just now will operationalize them in the same period when the world might have already moved on to 6th Generation fighter program and India’s own 5th Generation AMCA fighter program which is yet to kick-start officially is scheduled to go into production around same time when many countries around the world could have started producing 6th generation aircrafts which make India look like grossly late to the Big Boys Club when the advanced countries have already moved on to the next generation .

For modern air force, achieving air superiority remains the primary mission. Air superiority can be understood as that degree of air dominance which allows air, land, and sea forces to operate free from interference by an opponent’s air forces, while at the same time denying the opponent such dominance. To achieve air superiority, it is not enough to simply defeat an opponent’s air forces, but it is also necessary to sufficiently degrade, disrupt, or deny air defenses and air bases. With air superiority assured, ground forces can then move into areas without fear of attacks from the skies; aircraft can observe and strike the opponent without obstruction; navies can position themselves freely and support ground operations;

Indian military planners should take notice of changes which are happening in the combat arena and how the world is already shifting focus and also making efforts to move on to the 6th Generation fighter program. AMCA not only have to fast-tracked even Ghaatak UCAV Program too should be moved in Fastlane so that when the world moves to the 6th Generation fighter, India must necessarily have at least working 5th generation fighter in hand so that it can have enough expertise to start working on the 6th Generation program simultaneously so that India is not left behind too far .

Replacement of Sukhoi-30 by 2050 and Failure of FGFA joint venture with Russia has provided Indian designers and aerospace ecosystem in the country to come up with an alternative which can take on and replace Heavy Class fighter like Su-30 and yet be India’s frontline fighter in terms of technology. Indian military planners should start work on Advance Heavy Combat Aircraft (AHCA) concept which could be India’s 6th Generation fighter program which should materialize by 2040.

 

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