This is the era of 5th gen fighters, as of now only US is managed to induct a 5th gen fighter. Other countries like Russia & China is conducting testing of their respective 5th gen fighters. But still there are rumors of developing 6th gen fighters. Countries like Japan & India also developing 5th gen fighters probably they are 5+ gen fighters because they are incorporating some 6th gen technologies like GaN based radar, fly by light, self healing/ self repairing and improved cockpits.
Sixth Generation Fighter aircraft (SiGFA) is a fighter being designed on concepts akin to concepts of spacecraft depicted in star wars trilogy. The aircraft, equipped with new concept weapon systems, is expected to become operational by 2030-2050. What will 6th generation fighter aircraft be like and what will be the capabilities of SiGFA? Researches are going on the following areas
a) Air Vehicle
b) Vehicle/Sensor Protection
d) Warning and Situational Awareness
f) Data Fusion
g) Offensive/Defensive Systems
h) Automatic Target Recognition (Ground and Air)
i) Communications, Networks, and Data Links
j) Kinetic Weapons
k) Non-kinetic Weapons
l) Electronic Warfare and Information Operations
m) Secondary Power Generation, Storage and Management
n) Thermal Management and Heat Rejection
o) Human System Integration (HSI)
p) Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and Optionally Manned Systems
NEED FOR A 6th GENERATION OF COMBAT AIRCRAFT
For any 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; for example. In operations over the last two decades or so, Allied states had air superiority from the beginning or achieved it very quickly. It is therefore easy to forget that such absolute freedom of action in the air should not be taken for granted in the future. If a country want to possess the best air forces in the world, their fighter jets need to remain at the global technological vanguard.
Naturally, at such an early stage of thinking about a 6th-generation combat aircraft, the precise capabilities and requirements of such an aircraft are still very much subject to debate. Indeed, the next few years’ work on a future fighter jet will be devoted to exploring possibilities and clarifying what such a jet should be able to accomplish. Still, most experts converge around a few general features.
- extreme stealth, e.g. the jets should be stealthy across a greater range of spectrums
- engine efficiency at all flight speeds, from subsonic to multi-Mach speeds
- advanced exterior skin constructed with nano-technology and meta-material, i.e.
material engineered to exhibit properties not found in nature
- exceptionally powerful computer networking and communication capabilities
- extremely sensitive sensors
- the option of unmanned flight
- advanced weapon systems, possibly lasers and other directed energy weapons
- Morphing capability (the ability of an aircraft to change its shape while in flight)
Jet fighter engines are evolving gradually in comparison to the exponential advances in aerospace technologies like radar, software, sensors, stealth, and weapons. A fundamental factor is that aircraft engines are bound by the physics of jet propulsion systems and the limits of an airplane’s aerodynamics, size, and weight.
Still, current engine development efforts are set to advance jet engine technology substantially over the next few years. SiGFA Adaptive-Cycle Engines/variable cycle engines. Such engines are different from previous models because they possess an additional third manageable air stream. This dramatically improves the aircraft’s reach, fuel efficiency (enabling supercruise at more fuel efficient rates), and speed. The third stream of air in the variable cycle engine can be controlled by the pilot. By opening or closing the third air stream, the pilot can adjust the fuel intake of the jet engine and optimise its performance (the pilot has the option to exit cruise mode and significantly increases thrust as needed). This enables smooth transition from strike aircraft speeds (supersonic) to cruising (subsonic). The engine will also include light‑weight ceramic‑matrix composite materials that will allow the engine to operate above the melting point of steel.
Adaptive-cycle engine has an adaptive fan, which allows the engine to vary its bypass ratio depending on its altitude and speed due to a third stream of air. Air flows through the third stream as needed to increase or decrease the bypass ratio of the engine—or alternatively use the extra airflow for cooling. We can effectively vary the performance of the engine across the flight envelope. At high-supersonic speed, the third stream can reduce spill drag by letting the excess air flow through the engine— however performance above about Mach 2.2 is still limited by the physics of air inlet geometry. The third stream does help supersonically very much and this third stream of air provides additional heat sink capacity that both reduces the aircraft's infrared signature and enables the aircraft to accommodate directed energy weapons.
General Electric made substantial progress in adaptive cycle or variable cycle engines as a result of the US Air Force's Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology (ADVENT) program. The aim of the ADVENT programme is to develop a variable cycle engine that provides for 5 to 10% more thrust and a 25% reduction in fuel consumption compared to the jet engines in current F-35s.
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
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.
The Mikoyan MiG-35 (NATO reporting name: Fulcrum-F) is a Russian fighter aircraft that is a further development of the MiG-29M/M2 and MiG-29K/KUB fighters. It is classified as a 4++ generation jet fighter by Mikoyan. The first prototype was a modification of the aircraft that previously served as MiG-29M2 model demonstrator. While the airframe is similar, the aircraft is practically a new design under the hood. Compared to the original Fulcrum, the MiG-35 adds a completely new fly-by- wire control system, a lighter airframe, more fuel capacity, more efficient engines and thrust-vectoring nozzles. The single seat version is designated MiG-35 and the two-seat version is MiG-35D
The MiG-35/MiG-35D exhibits advancements on MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 fighters in combat efficiency enhancement, universality and operational characteristics improvement. The most important changes are the Phazotron Zhuk-AE active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, the RD-33MK engines and the newly designed Optical Locator System, OLS-35. The final configuration of the MiG-35's on-board equipment has been left open intentionally using the MIL-STD-1553 bus. The main advantage of an open architecture configuration for its avionics is that future customers will have options to choose from components and systems made by French, Israeli, Russian and United States companies.
The new AESA radar and the uniquely designed optical locator system (OLS) make the aircraft less dependent on ground-controlled interception (GCI) systems and enable the MiG-35 to conduct independent multi-role missions.
An alternate hypersonic air breathing propulsion concept to the scramjet is the shock-induced combustion ramjet (shcramjet) also called Oblique Detonation Wave Engine (ODWE), or simply referred to as Shock-Ramjet Engine) is a new concept in air breathing ramjet engines, proposed to be used for hypersonic, as well as, single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) propulsion applications. While scramjet concepts rely on the diffusive burning of injected fuel, the shcramjet concept aims to avoid a long combustion chamber by injecting the fuel in the inlet of the vehicle and burning the fuel/air mixture through a shock wave. This reduces the weight of the engine (which directly leads to substantial reduction in overall vehicle weight of a hypersonic wave rider design) and takes advantage of the typically long inlets found at hyper velocities. Thus shcramjets are more efficient than scram jet. Also, the shcramjet is believed to have a better overall propulsive performance than the scramjet at higher Mach numbers, especially above Mach 12. Recent researches have stipulated that air breathing engines such as scramjets and shcramjets provide a more efficient high-speed vehicle propulsion system than rocket engines. These potential advantages of shcramjet have recently attracted substantial efforts into their research all around the world.
In order to establish the shcramjet as a viable concept, shcramjet research must seriously address
1) Achieving adequate mixing prior to the shock-induced combustion, and
2) The prevention of premature ignition in the inlet.
(Followers can expect more on shcramjets as well as other latest propulsive devices in near future stay with us)
2) Thomas E. Schwartzentruber and Jean P. Sislian†,University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, Downsview, ON, Canada M3H 5T6 and Bernard Parent‡
Department of Aerospace Engineering, Seoul National University, Seoul, 151-744, Korea.
Yes ,they are. After reading this article you would agree to what I want to say. What were you imagining that you would manoeuvre through enemy airspace , would trick the enemy SAMs, dodge the enemy fighters and bomb your target??? Very soon we may not need to do this.
Top military nations are in a run to make hypersonic missiles. Hyper sonic weapons can be more survivable because of the extreme speed and altitude. They would be hard to stop. Hard to interpret and even more tedious to engage. Hypersonic means something that can achieve the speeds 5 times that of Sound. So Militaries want missiles and aircraft that can achieve Hypersonic Speeds.
But how they are going to develop such fast missiles or aircraft ?????
There are 2 kinds of approaches to solving the hypersonic challenge. Scramjet and Boost glide.
Scramjet abbreviated as (supersonic combustion ramjet) is a kind of air breathing jet engine it uses its high power to accelerate the vehicle into hypersonic speeds. As it accelerates more air and fuel is pushed into the engine allowing it to accelerates into hyper sonic speeds. It collects the oxygen from surrounding air via it's air intakes and increase it's burning efficiency. The have mechanism just like turbo fans difference is just that they don't have any 'fans'.
ScramJets cannot accelerate at Zero Speed. It means that first they must be given a speed of sound(sonic) then only they would start. For taking them to such high speeds they are carried by Rockets or Aircraft. Air is taken in intakes at supersonic speeds and then mixed with fuel and burned.
Till 1990 only USA , USSR and some European countries possessed that technology. But now countries like Australia, China and India are doing experiments in that a direction.
Boost glide is a kind of re entry into the atmosphere from extremely high altitudes. Boost-glide weapons have potentially longer ranges, can generally transport a heavier payload over a given range, are capable of midcourse manoeuvring, and fly at lower altitudes.
They are First taken in Space and then 're-entered' into earth's atmosphere. At the time of re-entry their speed is around Mach 20, that is 20 times the speed of sound.
But as they enter atmosphere they start making friction with air and thus their speed gets reduced. They are launched by rockets just like spacecraft.
After entering earths atmosphere. They Glide. While gliding they slowly reduce their altitude and fly at low levels but as fast as Mach 7. They have got retro rockets at their back which help them adjust their direction. They contain the main warhead which simply means 'bomb'. Upon reaching their target they release warhead which impacts on the target. The Vehicle returns to base and lands like an aircraft. This concept has been developed so that Countries should be able to launch attacks anywhere in the world within one hour and that too launching the aircraft from their land. Instead of making military bases on foreign land.
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