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Thread: US Prods Industry for F-22 Successor Ideas

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    Patron Phoenix10's Avatar
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    US Prods Industry for F-22 Successor Ideas

    Interesting article. The USAF is looking for industry inputs for a specification for a fighter to replace the F-22 around 2030. With the T-50, J-XX, etc that will or might be around in the next 10-15 years, I'm glad to see that the US is thinking about what will come next. I'm interested in everyone's thoughts on what this might look like from a physical configuration and capabilities standpoint.

    US prods industry for F-22 fighter successor ideas | Reuters

    "The primary mission, it said, would be offensive and defensive "counterair" -- destroying or neutralizing an enemy's ability to control the skies. The Air Force also wants to incorporate missile defense, air interdiction and close air support of ground forces, according to the "capability request for information."

    "This is the first step in figuring out what the specifications might be for the next generation of U.S. fighters," said Jeremiah Gertler, an expert on U.S. military aviation at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service."
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    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    My guess: twin engines and B-2 Spirit like stealth implementation (curved surfaces), possibly a heavy fighter type evolution of the F-22.
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    Military Professional dundonrl's Avatar
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    I'd guess something unmanned, with an almost complete AI running the show.. with human backup via remote incase something needs "a man in the loop" strategy..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix10;766672I'm interested in everyone's thoughts on what this might look like from a physical configuration and capabilities standpoint.

    [url=http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0529588420101105
    US prods industry for F-22 fighter successor ideas | Reuters[/url]

    "The primary mission, it said, would be offensive and defensive "counterair" -- destroying or neutralizing an enemy's ability to control the skies. The Air Force also wants to incorporate missile defense, air interdiction and close air support of ground forces"...
    I think that the 2030 deadline will slip - quite frankly. I beleive it will slip because of the Navy's UCAV program & the slow gestation of the F-35. This means that the UCAV will most likely be developing through the 2030 period with an idea of the maturing technologies of both systems in the F-35, and better understanding of exactly what nation states may be able to bring to the table in tech & operating principles that may change the goals of the Armed forces.

    I frankly beleive that the inevitable will happen - that the USAF will very reluctantly and with great hoo hah - have to go through the debate of how it deserves to be treated as the basis for platform development and not the USN and that the fast jet fleet of the USAF should be in secondary consideration to that of the USN. For the same reasons as why I see much of the RAF fast jet fleet with question, & why that funding should be spent on the RN. It just makes economic sence as well as projection sence - That what happens should follow the Navy's UCAV approach - whatever that outcome is.

    The Navy's UCAV mockup is basically as Wisconsin said, B2 type stealth configuration. Lifting Body Vehecles are on the whole a more efficient use of an airframe with good qualities against conventional Radars & systems.
    So, if I were to speculate, Such a system would only increase the importance of other assets in the U.S Arsenal. There will be the F-35's that will provide a lot the bare bones work - a LOT of diversionary EA warfare in conjunction with said platform helping it to accomplish it's mission, that is equal to, but in no means the silver bullet - perhaps the silver bullet to the system perhaps. Say perhaps a completely passive vehecle that is linked & can take it's control inputs from things like Awacs. Subsonic, Passive counter measures. Fuel efficient, Some attention paid to IR reduction.

    I think it will be somewhat unique in how different it will be than a percieved F-22 replacement, and derided as a useless bot. (People can't get away from the my thing is bigger than your thing argument). It won't be an energy fighter - but respectable none-the-less. Think taking it's launch cues from other assets, think over watch. Fighters become the high value assets that bombers are considered today (and still will be in the future) Meaning that the expenditure perhaps will place most of the expenses in the fighter and not the platform.
    Last edited by Chunder; 07 Nov 10, at 03:53.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dundonrl View Post
    I'd guess something unmanned, with an almost complete AI running the show.. with human backup via remote incase something needs "a man in the loop" strategy..
    I doubt it. I suspect that in the 2030 and after time frame satellites and other communications nodes will be attacked to such a degree that reliable remote operation will be highly problematic. My guess is you will see unmanned platforms organized into battlegroups with manned "herders" within line of site providing real time assessment and management of the battle. Fighter type aircraft will need to be two seaters to handle the information management workload, but will need to have pretty high performance because they will be under attack all the time. On the otherhand, you'll have bomber sized aircraft that will operate in relative electronic silence, receiving lots of information from the battle net but not emitting much, and carrying a high weapons load. They will be manned because it would simply cost too much to let communications or software ****ups screw up their mission or lead to the loss of the bomber.

    Of course there will be lots of unmanned platforms, more numerous than today and a bigger portion of the force, but we are not going to see an end to the manned fighters or bombers.

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    The last time I saw this come up it was being referred to as the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) fighter, and was focused on a more multirole application.
    Boeing displays concepts for F/A-18E/F replacement

    They are going to need to replace their F-15Es well before they replace their F-22s. And the US Navy is going to need a replacement for its F/A-18E/Fs well before 2030 - unless the US is willing to decomission one or more of its carrier battle groups. The F-35 doesn't have the range or payload for these roles. What they need is a longer range, multirole platform - not a pure air-to-air fighter like the F-22 was intended to be. If I recall the Aviation Week article on this same subject correctly, the program is due to officially kick-off in 2015.

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    Patron Phoenix10's Avatar
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    I tend to agree with Citanon about the aircraft being manned or at least "usually" manned. The article does make a few references to "manned" as opposed to unmanned which furthers that idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by outofshdw View Post
    If I recall the Aviation Week article on this same subject correctly, the program is due to officially kick-off in 2015.
    That's interesting. I didn't see that article but I'll do a search for it. You don't happen to have a link anymore do you? Speaking of Aviation week, here is another article that calls out the 2030 timeframe.

    What to Expect From Sixth Gen Combat Aircraft

    Technology aside, I have some concerns about this given the current fiscal climate and unless things get better I think it could will be hard to allocate enough funds to hit 2030. Then again, 2030 is 2 decades away...
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    2030 is horribly optimistic. The F-22 was supposed to out in the mid-90s, by the same logic.

    Quote Originally Posted by dundonrl View Post
    I'd guess something unmanned, with an almost complete AI running the show.. with human backup via remote incase something needs "a man in the loop" strategy..
    The Air Force won't go this route until everyone in uniform right now has died of old age. You can't pin the blame on AI when something bad happens. I could buy into an unmanned fighter, but not another generation at least...but it won't be running engagements autonomously.

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    jimmy,

    The Air Force won't go this route until everyone in uniform right now has died of old age. You can't pin the blame on AI when something bad happens. I could buy into an unmanned fighter, but not another generation at least...but it won't be running engagements autonomously.
    IIRC there was some talk a while back about how one day we could replace out the human operators in the F-22 and make it AI-controlled. like you, i doubt this will happen but at least there's some thought into it.

    i wonder if the first step towards this type of AI-controlled aircraft wouldn't be the development of an AI AWACS.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy View Post
    2030 is horribly optimistic. The F-22 was supposed to out in the mid-90s, by the same logic.
    Well, take this into consideration

    F-15 entered service in 1976
    ATF began in 1981, thats a 5 year difference.
    YF-22 prototype flew in 1990, 9 years after ATF, and 14 years after F-15's introduction

    F-22 entered service in 2005
    Super ATF? sort of announced in 2010, thats a 5 year difference.
    So, based on F-15's replacement, we may expect the prototype to fly in 2020?

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    From what i have seen on net and tv about the state of AI and robotics right now compared to the complexity of Human mind seems pathetically inadequate to do any task as complex and controversial as warfare, i get the impression that there can be no predictions as to when we will have AI military equipment capable of independent operations, could be a 100 years could be a thousand. A bit like the predictions of the scientists in the 1950s for the year 2000, many had real wild ideas.
    cheers

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    What the USAF needs to do is figure out to how to make a economically viable successor to F-22 rather than a plane that would bankrupt the coffers of the US treasury every time it buys one plane of that design.

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    ^^^I agree 100%.

    The problem of AI is overwhelming. I don't understand why people think the reins of combat will be handed off to artificial intelligence, assuming the technology ever matures to make that an option. There are morality concerns to contend with, for starters. Then there has to be someone to point the finger at when bad things happen. Pointing the finger at a piece of malfunctioning equipment will not be sufficient, nor will pointing at the group of lawyers and politicians that decide on ROE. You ALWAYS need a human to make the final decision.

    Quote Originally Posted by cr9527 View Post
    Well, take this into consideration

    F-15 entered service in 1976
    ATF began in 1981, thats a 5 year difference.
    YF-22 prototype flew in 1990, 9 years after ATF, and 14 years after F-15's introduction

    F-22 entered service in 2005
    Super ATF? sort of announced in 2010, thats a 5 year difference.
    So, based on F-15's replacement, we may expect the prototype to fly in 2020?
    A prototype's first flight is meaningless. How many prototypes never make it to production (YF-23)? How similar is that YF-22 that flew in 1990 to the F-22 that entered service? Hardly at all. What matters is Full Operational Capability, or at least Initial Operation Capability. And THAT is so far beyond 2020 that the CSAF of the time probably isn't even in the Air Force yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy View Post
    A prototype's first flight is meaningless. How many prototypes never make it to production (YF-23)? How similar is that YF-22 that flew in 1990 to the F-22 that entered service? Hardly at all. What matters is Full Operational Capability, or at least Initial Operation Capability. And THAT is so far beyond 2020 that the CSAF of the time probably isn't even in the Air Force yet.
    right, but the quoted time was 2030? thats 10 years after 2020(first prototype estimate), which is similar to F-22's development.
    F-22 first flew in 1997, YF-22 in 1990.

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    And the F-22 hit IOC in December 2005. That's the first date that matters, because it's the first date it was available for anything except testing.

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