Prospective American fighters will get weapon on new physical principles and start saving fuel
When building the F-35 Lightning II (Universal Light Fighter) costing more than 300 billions of dollars, the US Department of Defense made sure that a single fighter is not the optimal solution. With a high degree of probability, the Pentagon will allow the Air Force and Navy to select separate programs for the design of new generation fighter aircraft, according to experts from Aviation Week and Space Technology weekly.
The FX program, which is implemented by the US Air Force, is intended to replace the F-22A Raptor and E-F-15C fighters. This was announced by Colonel Tom Koglitor, who is responsible for carrying out work to gain air superiority: “At present, it is determined which of the available capabilities are necessary and what can be realized both in one aircraft and in a number of future platforms. We work with various US laboratories and research organizations to find technologies that are acceptable to us. ”
At the same time, the US Navy began work on the F / A-XX program to replace the F / A-18E / F "Super Hornet" carrier-based fighter jets and EA-18G "Boeling" carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft (Boeing).
Despite the fact that in the programs of the Navy and Air Force there will be common elements and technologies, the specific requirements of each type of troops do not allow combining these projects into one. Joint study of various alternatives to justify the need for the development of separate programs continues.
“I suppose our requirements will differ significantly from those put forward by the Navy,” emphasizes Tom Koglititor. - The naval forces are likely to focus on adapting the prospective aircraft to the aircraft carrier. Naval systems will be more offensive in nature and used in more difficult tactical conditions compared to Air Force aircraft. ”
Prospective FX fighter is designed to achieve superiority in the air. It is assumed that, unlike F-15E, it will not take part in carrying out tasks to constrain the actions of the enemy. This program is currently at a stage prior to exploring alternatives, and the Air Force is consulting with the US defense industry to collect data on the technologies developed. Analysis of alternatives can last about 18 months. Along with the development of a new platform, the US Air Force will study the technical capabilities and prospects for upgrading existing aircraft. In the 2018 year, it is planned to begin the stage of preparing technologies for the FX program.
FX planning started in 2008. It was then that they began to calculate the requirements that could become relevant in the 2030's. The US Air Force believes that in the near future will identify areas in which there is a lack of technology. Information is strictly classified.
FX can become an upgraded version of an already developed manned fighter, an unmanned aircraft, or combine elements of both. Experts consider all options.
In the US Air Force in 2030, the need for a fighter will ripen, which can effectively deal with all types of future threats. By this time, most of the X-NUMX generation fighters of the F-5 generation will be in the 22 formation for more than 50 years, and the F-30C will be more than half a century old. The fleet of these aircraft will begin to decline gradually.
Western experts believe that FX will be a completely new project. A promising fighter must be able to intercept enemy counterparts, destroy Aviation the enemy, to carry out the tasks of escorting aircraft and protecting airspace, to suppress other people's air defense systems.
At the moment, the requirements for FX for speed, acceleration, maneuverability, height, stealth, range, payload have not yet been determined. For example, the F-22 can fly at cruising supersonic speeds, which provides new, previously inaccessible tactical capabilities. The US Air Force will have to accurately determine the appropriate required values for FX. “We are currently exploring areas of development in this area,” explained Koglititor.
The factor of stealth in modern conditions still remains significant, but not to the same extent as before. Experts believe that as the means of detection and suppression develop, its significance for aircraft decreases. "In addition to stealth technology, there are other ways, and in the future we will consider the most optimal options," said Koglirator.
It is expected that the FX will be equipped with technically advanced compared to the F-22 and F-35 avionics. At present, the Navy is considering the possibility of integrating artificial intelligence technologies into its promising F / A-XX fighter. The USAF is also working in this direction X.
Taking into account the experience gained during the creation of the F-35, the Air Force is likely to make the prospective aircraft as adaptable as possible to the modernization with wide use in the design of an open electronic architecture. Among other technologies, weapons based on new physical principles can be integrated into FX, in particular, DEW (Direct Energy Weapon).
The Air Force is also working towards the creation of advanced aircraft engines with a variable cycle and the possibility of choosing the mode of operation. This will allow to achieve significant fuel savings. Such a power plant at supersonic cruising speed can operate a turbofan inductor mode. In the case when high specific thrust is required for flying at a higher speed, the engine could operate in turbojet mode. There is a US Air Force program to create a similar AETD (Adaptive Engine Technology Technology) aircraft propulsion system and the next phase of the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP). The engine will improve the performance of power, temperature, flight range and fuel efficiency. As a result, the size of the aircraft may be reduced due to a decrease in the volume of fuel tanks. It is also possible to increase the fighter range of the former size. In turn, reducing the size can increase maneuverability and reduce the cost. In principle, an aircraft engine with an adjustable cycle will provide the Air Force a lot of opportunities.
But the command of the aviation systems of the US Navy and some Western technical experts are quite restrained in the development of variable-cycle aircraft engines. In marine conditions, as studies have shown, these power plants do not provide key advantages. According to analysts, the differences between the Air Force and Navy on this issue are caused by the nature of the combat missions that have to be performed.
The US Navy expects to begin the research phase of alternatives in its program to create a promising F / A-XX fighter in 2015. Recently, the leadership of this type of troops organized a series of meetings with representatives of the military-industrial complex to discuss the possibilities of a new generation combat aircraft. It is assumed that F / A-XX will perform combat missions that are unattainable for the F / A-18E / F fighter.
According to experts, the Air Force and the US Navy are considering the same concept. “The platform can be both manned and unmanned. It is aimed at ensuring the compliance of new weapons with the defense budgets of future years, ”said the representative of the US Navy.
The US Navy is also carrying out work on the integration of armaments, based on the principle of directional energy transfer, to the advanced F / A-XX fighter. In general, it is assumed that the concept of the new aircraft will resemble the "Hornet" and "Super Hornet." “Until the end of the study of alternatives, we cannot say whether the work will be carried out to create a new platform or to integrate new technologies into the already created aircraft,” says the representative of the Navy. “But according to the results of this stage, we will formulate the necessary recommendations.”
The cost of F / A-XX is likely to be the minimum allowed.
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