Boeing just unveiled an updated version of its F/A-XX sixth-generation fighter concept, at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition in Washington DC.
Images © Boeing
The Boeing F/A-XX concept is a proposal to a USN request for information (RFI) from April 2012, for a replacement for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, scheduled for operations in 2030-35.
The navy RFI stated: “The intent of this research is to solicit Industry inputs on candidate solutions for CVN [nuclear-powered aircraft carrier] based aircraft to provide air supremacy with a multi-role strike capability in an anti-access/area denied (A2AD) operational environment. Primary missions include, but are not limited to, air warfare (AW), strike warfare (STW), surface warfare (SUW), and close air support (CAS).”
Donald Gaddis, program executive officer for tactical aircraft at Naval Air Systems Command, told Aviation Week.
“We’re looking at replacing the Super Hornet when it reaches 9,000 flight hours.
We need it to have advanced sensors, be more transitional and provide access into the anti-access, area-denial environment. We’re asking industry what this aircraft might have in terms of tanking, airborne electronic attack, ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] and suppression of enemy air defenses.
If you want to know what I worry about, it’s the industrial base as it relates to F/A-XX,” says Gaddis. “The true engineering and development cost [for F/A-XX] won’t be [available] until next decade. Boeing’s not going to be around next decade in terms of fighter design. The fighter industry and where it is going is something that [the Pentagon] will have to take a hard look at. I think the Air Force is going to have the same issue with its F-X program. [Defense officials] want competition, but where are they going to get it?”
A sixth-generation jet fighter is a class of fighter aircraft design more advanced than fifth-generation jet fighters which are currently in service in the United States and in development in other militaries. The United States Air Force and United States Navy are expected to field the first sixth-generation fighters in the 2025–30 timeframe.
The under development Chinese Chengdu J-20, Indian HAL Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft and the Russian Sukhoi PAK FA are now providing more advanced fighters to compete with current American fifth generation jet fighters.
The “Next Generation Tactical Aircraft”/”Next Gen TACAIR”, the USAF seeks a fighter with “enhanced capabilities in areas such as reach, persistence, survivability, net-centricity, situational awareness, human-system integration and weapons effects,” a November 4, 2010 presolicitation notice states.