Imagining Six and Seven

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Sixth Generation Fighters

In case you were wondering…the F-22 and F-35 are Fifth Generation fighters. So what’s next? Pilot or no pilot? 
Navy concept, (right) with cockpits.

Drones/UAV’s are clearly useful in a number of rolls, but the old fashioned part of me still can’t conceive of a front line fighter that doesn’t have a pilot/aviator even if much of the aircraft is fly by wire/computer.

Will seventh generation fighters be space-capable? It’s worth thinking about because it would add another dimension to the calculus. Today, the aircraft can go higher than the pilot can tolerate (unless he/she is wearing a space suit). It would also give impetus to military bases on the Moon (buried deep within the regolith).

US Space Force Website (maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet)

Space Flag 20-1

Space Flag represents a fundamental pivot from viewing space as a benign environment to viewing space as a contested domain of warfare. This critical exercise provides an educational environment where our space warfighters are challenged to defend, fight, and win in space against a thinking adversary in potential future conflicts.

The current space force are still wearing camo uniforms and I think that needs to be re-considered. There is not much need to look like a tree or bush while in orbit.

16 thoughts on “Imagining Six and Seven

  1. I favor a Man-In-The-Loop, too. As far as going into space….maybe the fringes of it, but we're a looooong way from a "Single-Stage-To-Orbit" type vehicle.

    I can definitely see the Space Force having it's own crew transfer/shuttle type aircraft, though…..

  2. Good points but disagree about uniforms. Use what is available and spend money on more vital equipment.

  3. 7th gen aircraft should be "space capable"…..the problem however is physics. We are STILL at the point where a vehicle capable of leaving the atmosphere and entering orbit or even go beyond orbit requires the vehicle to be 90% fuel and is only 10% payload. Till that reality changes the "space force" is 90% fantasy and 10% reality.

  4. This is a very interesting and timely post, remember the earthquakes in Iran?

    I'm no expert but sources say SPACE FORCE #1 uniforms will be black with silver trim, rank and unit designation. Existing camo's a stopgap, obviously, and will be replaced with something suitably regolith grey.

  5. Like a crewed X-37B, shades of DynaSoar.

    The X-37 is a proven platform, has had less issues than any of the Shuttles and is a stealthy little plane.

    I still remember one of the plans for the X-15 was mounting one on a Redstone or a Titan. Modify an X-15 with more powerful retro-rockets (they were already equipped with an RCS, but not a super powerful one) and Bob's your uncle, there you go.

    Because you're using the Redstone or the Titan to get you up higher and faster than you could start off by a drop launch from a B-52, might even be able to fit in a small cargo section.

    Or… go with external boosters to give enough oomph to reach orbit from an air-drop. (one of the X-15A-2s had external fuel tanks, too.)

    But… no…

    Still, that X-37B looks very interesting.

  6. BDUs need to not be worn except on the battlefield. There are more appropriate outfits to wear when working in an office, or while turning a wrench, or swabbing a deck.

    Return all forces back to, at the latest, Vietnam uniforms with BDUs only for shooting troops or troops near the front line.

    As to Space Force… Either something like the AF uniform for office workers or onesy-coveralls for space, or something appropriate to wear for riding a console.

  7. There were proposals to put the X-15 on top of a Titan, interesting to say the least.

    I'll have to back through all my X-15 books (I worked with Pete Knight for a while.) and see what the consensus was on if it could have survived re-entry. The DynaSoar was designed for orbital flight, but not the X-15.

  8. You don't really need camo in orbit, or for that matter, in an office building in Colorado where most of the Space Force works.

    On the other hand, it isn't a detriment, either.

    I realize that eventually Space Force will need a nice, proper uniform for all the good intangible reasons, but I don't think the camo BDU is a national crisis.

    As for combat R/C airplanes, I favor a large manned component as the primary force.

    A combat spaceplane would be super-cool, but I don't know when we'll get there.


  9. I guess you will have a two man crew on the 7th generations jets. One on the ground being the main pilot with access to super computer, AI and VR with all the fancy stuff to do the Job. The second in the backup pilot in the plane that will take over after an EMP or other counter measures have killed the GPS and other fancy Electronic communicating with the jet.

  10. It would have to be something like that, wouldn't it? But the high G maneuvering of the aircraft would end up killing that person while the EMP wipes out the controls that the person on the ground is using.

    I like my idea of a "space plane" but it was just me trying to guess what Gen 7 would look like.

  11. Years ago the russians used analog technology in their planes. Maybe that will be the future?

  12. The Navaho-X15 combo was an interesting concept.

    And I think a modified X-15 would have done quite well in orbital and trans-atmospheric flight.

    It was just a tad too extreme, and Werner Von Braun didn't like it.

  13. Reaction Engines SABRE is a combined cycle engine that goes from air breathing to oxidizer using. It has the ability to power those 7th generation vehicles to LEO. The problem is that those would have to be fairly large.

    Oh, USSF uniforms! I have my ideas. They should have a dark blue flight suit for daily wear in the office and eventually off-Earth. I vote for Startrek like uniforms for more formal occasions. One version to replace the services dress uniforms. For very formal occasions (like AF Mess Dress occasions), the formal Startrek tunic worn with a kilt, knee socks and a Sgian-Dubh (knife tuck in the right sock). This would be gender neutral. For this, they need a special Space Force tartan created.

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