Ukraine reinforces its air arsenal with AIM-120 air-to-air missiles from the USA2 September 2023
Ukraine wants to buy French Rafales: Issues and implications3 September 2023
Both the USA and China are actively developing their revolutionary 6th generation stealth fighter jets. However, despite intense competition, the technical specifics remain a mystery, and the debate over superiority persists.
Anticipated features of 6th generation stealth jets
- speed and stealth: these aircraft are designed to be faster, more maneuverable and stealthier than any other existing aircraft, thanks to innovations in propulsion, thermal management, radar-absorbing materials and “vectoring” capabilities.
- drone control: a major capability of future jets will be to control multiple attack drones from the air, a strategy that would extend their mission range.
- external design: Available images show a fused wing design with no fins or protruding details, maximizing stealth.
6th generation aircraft in the USA: what we know
- current developments : The US NGAD (Next-Generation Air Dominance) is already in the test phase. It can fly unmanned and control drones from the air.
- collaboration with combat drones: These aircraft will work with CCAs (Combat Collaborative Aircraft) to carry out a variety of missions, drones designed to be both economical and efficient.
- Potential variants: Adaptations could be made to suit specific theaters of operation, for example, a variant for the Pacific could have a larger fuel capacity.
China’s 6th-generation aircraft: a developing enigma
- Stealth design: Like the USA, China appears to be adopting a fused-wing design, optimized for stealth.
- technical challenges: Wingless design poses maneuverability challenges, which engineers must overcome with new technologies.
- focus on AI: Artificial intelligence plays a crucial role in China’s vision, giving pilots a better understanding of the combat situation and facilitating decision-making.
Superiority at stake: U.S. or China?
- Measuring superiority: Superiority is measured not just in terms of stealth, but also in the quality of sensors, computing speed and targeting technologies.
- the unknown: Despite the details available, it is currently impossible to determine which of the two aircraft is superior. The future of air combat will depend not only on stealth characteristics, but also on mission systems, detection and targeting capabilities.
The competition between the USA and China in the field of 6th generation stealth jets illustrates the constant evolution of aeronautical technology and the quest for superiority in the skies. As both nations continue to develop their respective technologies, the air superiority of the future will probably be determined by a combination of stealth, artificial intelligence and advanced targeting capabilities. For now, the mystery remains, but one thing is certain: the next generation of aerial combat will be radically different from anything we’ve seen before.
Fly a jet fighter is the fighter jet experience specialist.