Russia to design jet fighter of sixth generation
Russia is almost through with the flight tests of a fifth-generation jet fighter, the T-50, which is barely visible by radar stations due to the use of composite materials and aerodynamic configuration. According to pilots, the next-generation aircraft should exceed the T-50 in many ways and should be developed now.
The view is shared by an expert in drone aircraft, Denis Fedutinov, who says that the sixth-generation combat planes should be unmanned and that Russia should start work on such aircraft right away. Several US companies are already engaged in designing a sixth-generation aircraft, such companies as Boeing (the Phantom Ray project) and Northrop Grumman (the X-47B project). Earlier this summer, Northrop Grumman showed this type of drone for the first time. The drone landed on and took off from the deck of an aircraft-carrier.
The expert feels the state-of-the-art jet fighter of the sixth generation could be built in different ways. It may be designed from scratch, or the designers may use some design groundwork or subsystems that have been created for the T-50. There is at least a chance that some units will be borrowed from the fifth-generation aircraft.
Drones have been increasingly often used across the world and have been tested in several armed conflicts. But these are normally reconnaissance and combat surveillance drones. Although offensive operations drones have also been built and used, it will take a lot more time to build an unmanned jet fighter, says the editor of the Vzliot, (Take-off) magazine, Andrei Fomin.
According to him, there is clearly a difference between hitting the target on land and making decisions in a rapidly changing air environment with no pilot involved. The artificial intelligence system on board the fifth-generation aircraft today is well-developed, it assists the pilot with reminders and can itself make decisions on changing the flying mode and weapon employment. But the pilot still remains on board. Jet fighters will actually remain piloted for decades to come.
So, Russian companies have got down to designing an unmanned aircraft system. This may become a strike drone that will prove inferior in no way to the latest western prototypes, says Denis Fedutinov.
According to him, the St. Petersburg-based TranzasCompany is one of those that are engaged in designing an unmanned aircraft with the gross weight of approximately one ton. The Kazan-based SokolDesign Office is focused on building a five-ton drone. But the most intriguing project is that of the Sukhoi Company. All we know about it is that it may resemble the X-47B or Phantom Ray aircraft. It is not unlikely that the sixth-generation jet fighter will be developed in the next few decades. In theory, it should combine the best characteristics of the fifth-generation jet fighter, as well as of the latest strike drones.
Russia has started designing a sixth-general fighter drone, the RIA-Novosti news agency reports with reference to a statement by the former Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force, Pyotr Deinekin.
Russia is almost through with test-flying the T-50 jet fighter of the 5th generation. Most European countries will skip making a fifth-generation aircraft, and are due to concentrate on producing a sixth-generation jet fighter.
According to Deinekin, Russia should engage in a detailed study of long-range drones, the more so since combat aircraft of the sixth generation will most likely prove unmanned. He added that since Russia should make it on its own, it will hardly afford to skip one generation of aircraft.