Next Generation Fighters and Vaporware

Dassault MZI-46Q (the French vision of a Mach 4 prototype)

Many nations are toying with next generation fighter aircraft but the only entries that are flying come from the US, which is still the world’s only super power. The F-22 and now the F-35, 20 years more advanced than the F-22 are flying actively as members of squadrons both in Naval and Marine Corps Aviation and the Air Force.

Russian Su-57

So what about the “New French Mirage”, which they hope will go fast, or the Russian Su-57, or the Chinese J-20? The Russian Su-57 is demonstration technology with somewhere between one and three aircraft flying. They shut down what production line there is because of the Chinese Plague, which hit Russia very hard (Russia is a nation with a LOT of lung disease). The Chinese J-20 is slightly ahead of the Russians, but there are serious bugs in the aircraft that have kept it as a flying technology demonstrator.

Nobody but the French are sure why a manned mach 4 aircraft is desirable. In the age when the US is deploying hypersonic cruise missiles (mach 5+) at the end of the decade, the advantage of a fast semi-stealth jet that flies in a straight line (not maneuverable) is limited. At the moment it is on the drawing board.


The Lockheed SR-72, a mach 6+ aircraft currently under development and expected to deploy on or about 2030. I have no idea whether it will be manned or unmanned. Lockheed is playing its cards close to the vest. I suspect that in this case, it’s not vaporware, but time will tell.


  1. Interesting round up but I’m looking forward to anti-grav craft. In the meanwhile, perhaps an ME 262 would be useful at the Mine?

    • You need to contact the space aliens (and I’m told reliably that Beto, who lives in Texas) may be the closest to you. Or the Laotians at the pick and steal that look at Blue Warrior as if he’s a tender meal. They can work with you on the anti-grav fighter jet.

      • When you combine heavy growth of Ponderosa Pines, thin air, cross winds and narrow mountain roads, it’s a challenge. There is a guy about three miles away with A Hughes 500D jet helicopter and he seems to manage. The mine is located on the side of a ridge line.

        • Get the 500 with upgraded engine and 6-blade rotor. Allows you to carry 4 guys standing on the skids and 2 crew and fit in a smaller LZ than the regular 4 blade rotor.

          But, well, you probably already are familiar with that modification, right?

    • You never know what those people are up to. Unlimited budget, some of the very best and brightest, let your imagination run wild.

      • Well, a few of us know what they’re up to.

        Or were up to when we were In The Industry.

        I may or may not have had a coffee mug that may or may not have been given to me by an unnamed man at an unspecified location on an uncertain date for “Helping to Achieve the Goals of The Program”.

        We used to joke amongst ourselves that it was damn hard work making things that didn’t exist.

        I mean, gee….where in the hell do you get the parts?

        • And that’s why I like people who hang on this blog. They all know when to shut up and keep secrets.

          Dad was like that. Would allude to something, “Well, I was watching low flying planes in the desert.” Trying to parse that into what could have actually been going on was difficult.

          The year before he died, he did say one of his stranger jobs was helping monitor radiation levels around Eniwetok, including on and around the dome. Counting on my fingers, toes, and the dog’s paw, yep, 25 years after he last did it and he could talk about what he did, well at least on that particular job.

          About every 5 years I request info from the AF on his service record. Still getting a lot of ‘not been released yet’ stuff.

  2. Mach 4 fighter? And what are you going to use as armament? And, well, it’s the French. Won’t go anywhere.

    Most or all of the high-tech stuff the Chicoms say they have seem to be vaporware. Oh, sure, they talk a good talk, but they have yet to actually use any of their high-tech stuff to do anything other than military parades.

    And the Russians/Soviets have always used ‘demonstrators’ as scare-tactics against the West. Like the supposedly great Mig-25, that turned out, once we got our hands on it, to be a big flying pig that, like the Space Shuttle, needed to be rebuilt after every mission. Yeah. Real good job there, Ivan.

  3. The SR-72 is supposed to be an acknowledge recce aircraft, at least that was what was pushed in the open internal Lockhart publications when I worked there.

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