Boeing’s Sixth-Gen Fighter

Here’s a little update on this fighter design we showed you yesterday. It is indeed Boeing’s concept for a sixth-gen “air dominance” fighter for the U.S. Navy and Air Force, Daryl Davis, chief of Boeing’s Phantom Works division told me today. The plane, which is still just a concept, would have long-ranger range and fly at “higher mach numbers” (faster) than jets like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and be able to supercruise, according to Davis.

Boeing is funding its own research into sixh-gen fighter concepts since neither the Air Force or Navy is moving to kick off a new fighter program in the near future, said Davis. Pumping it’s own cash into advanced fighter R&D means that Boeing will have existing tech ready for a new airplane design when “the balloon goes up,” added Davis.

This is going to be pretty important in the years to come since, as Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told reporters today that the Air Force is going to focus even more on buying proven, existing technologies that meet the service’s actual combat requirements not its “wants.”

Meanwhile, the Phantom Ray UAV is Going Into Storage:

Speaking of new planes built with existing technology, Davis also revealed that Boeing’s stealthy-looking Phantom Ray drone will be placed in storage now that it’s successfully completed its test flights. The company is going to keep the bird in flyable condition with the hopes of dusting it off to contribute to the optionally-manned portion of the Air Force’s long range bomber project — a program Schwartz today said is in development and that the air service will fight to protect it from cancellation during the coming budget cuts.

  • Nice to see the F36 being a Navy AF jet like F35.
    & reuse Phantom Ray for border Recon roles alone for USBP??
    USCG, Test “swarm” formations with Phanton Ray & carrier landings, takeoffs or make VSTOL.

  • Howe

    Correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t the phantom ray basically a AF version of the (Navy) X-47B? which if I’m not mistaken is still planned to be apart of the carriers in the future…correct? If so, they’re not really “storing” anything….

    • X47B is by Northrop Grumman. The AF already have a stealthy UAV (the Beast of Kandahar), thus Phantom Ray is going into storage.

  • PMI

    Phantom Ray was spun off of the X-45, Boeing’s J-UCAS entry. The X-47B is an outgrowth of Northrup’s entry (the X-47A).

    • PMI

      Yeah typos (Northrop)!

  • chaos0xomega

    I approve of Boeing using its own money to fund R&D. Hopefully that translates to a shorter timeframe for production and IOC, a lower cost, and a less ridiculous set of features… Better yet if the rest of the defense industry follows suit and we go back to the good old days of acquisitions.

    • EJ257

      This is how it should be.

    • brian

      Unless Boeing takes it to market using its own funds, this will not shorten development time or cost, it just means they will have a prettier presentation when the time comes for a new design.

      Technical development problems are not the cause for most delays and cost overruns, its the change orders, mission creep and gross mismanagement by dod and the oversight committees tied together with an endless and scopeless development contract.

      The best thing would be to simply put out a RFP with specific requirements, and simply buy whatever final product they actually demonstrate they can make. I am sure that this will not fly, but whatever.

    • Buzz

      You got that right. Boeing set its operational and performance parameters without the constaint changes that government programs do which push prices up and shove the schedual back years.

      Look at the Harris 117G radio and compare it to JTRS.

  • ArkadyRenko

    Ideally, Boeing will develop the design to the point of having a technology demonstrator, flying with their own money.

    Sadly, there are two legs to the new idea of purchasing, the aerospace companies have to develop new tech by themselves, so that the government isn’t stuck with having to pay for planes through a painful process of trial and error (see F-22, F-35). And the AF has to be willing to purchase a plane from Boeing, if that plane does indeed meet their specifications.

    I can imagine, though I don’t want to, the AF having a brand new, very expensive, competition for the F-15/F-22 replacement, in spite of Boeing and Northrup having nearly completed designs.

    Hopefully, the AF will be willing in the future to purchase one of these planes if they get good enough.

    • Rocky

      A large part of ‘expensive” is because 1) they have to bill enough to pay for the people that don’t have anywhere else to charge and 2) management instructs people to falsify timecards to ‘prove’ they need all those hours…

  • I hope phantom ray will be next generation bomber.

    • Mike

      Do you have a financial stake in Boeing? The Ray would only be able to carry one or two bombs at most. Not much of a bomber, next gen or otherwise.

  • Stratege

    God, this thing would have poor maneuverability!

    • Yah Coyote

      So you are a technology expert? New technlogy has provided so many options for maneuver that depending on how acquision requirements are written it can be as maneurverable as specified. Of course, as usual the more you want, the more you have to pay.

      • Stratege

        New technologies can not denide the laws of physics and aerodynamics. There are no so many options for maneuver.

        • crackedlenses

          I don’t care how maneuverable your plane is, if mine is 2 gens ahead and better armed and stealthed you are going to lose the fight. Kind of like the samurai vs the peasants with muskets…..

          • bored

            3D Thrust Vectoring is all that is needed to make this bird more agile than the 2D F-22… vectoring of thrust is continually being researched and advanced so it would not surprise me one bit this thing will be highly agile.

          • Thunder350

            Remember the start of the Vietnam war and how we thought the F-4’s would knock out the enemy fighters with missiles, not needing a gun.

            Sadly the crude missiles didn’t always hit, and the limited supply of them on the F-4’s left them defenseless after they fired their payload. If a enemy got in close, the missiles became almost useless. We lost a lot of good men due to these mistake. Technology helps, but it doesn’t make you invincible.

    • William C.

      Is caps locks supposed to prove a point? The lack of vertical surfaces does not automatically mean poor maneuverability, especially with thrust vectoring around.

      Plus with something like a JDRADM chasing you down at short range, no amount of maneuverability is going to help you. Against the latest missiles it is all about stealth and ECM.

    • Buzz

      Wouldnt be the first. The F-103(?) which had the stubby wings was designed to fly in basically a straight line really really fast to intercept and destroy Soviet Bomber groups. Also remember that at supercruise it would be next to impossible to alter the course of the plane significantly because of the G-forces on the plane and the pilot.

  • John

    Given the economic situation of the US I highly doubt we will see any new fighter programs being financed by the government soon. Unless they will find a foreign country to buy a reasonable number to fund further R&D.
    Hence I rather see it as a first sign of the days where the US military industry superiority is coming to an end…

    • Tri-ring

      The F/A-XX actually looks suspiciously like the i3 fighter concept that the Japanese Self Defense Force Technical Research and Development Institute had announced a couple of years ago.
      Various Japanese military contractors had worked with Boeing in the past and Boeing is well aware of Japanese technology.
      Japan is looking for a replacement for the aging F-15J and F-2 due to be decommissioned around 2020 and since F-22 are not available and did not join the F-35 program, I believe Japan may have a piece into this.

  • nonito cabato

    does it carry a cannon ? does it super cruise at mach 2.2 & have a top speed of mach 3 does it have 12g maneuverability and also with a combat radius of 2, 000 nautical miles

    • Letsallbefriends

      If it is built then my guesses would be:

      Cannon – Yes. Everybody loves cannons.
      Supercruise at mach 2.2 – No. Use up too much fuel.
      Top speed of mach 3. No. As far as I know, they’re still a long way from developing materials that could stand the heat and still be light and durable enough over a long service lifetime.
      12g maneuverability – Not unless they take the squishy thing in the helmet out.
      Combat radius of 2000nm – Not unless the only thing they do combat with is BB gun and even then not at mach 2.2.

      • ViolentKisses

        Well may see some new tech come down the pipe from DARPA given their recent melting hull issues with their Falcon HTV-2 space plane. Their budget always seems pretty loose and they like going 13,000 mph. Given those two things they will likely have their new hull in 5 or so years.

  • Dark Sidius

    There is no chance the Phantom ray become a bomber. A concept like this has no chance to survive more than 5 minutes in a defense like China. For the job the bomber must be discret high speed long range plane.

  • Dfens

    Way to ask the hard questions, Defense Tech! I guess if you brought up the obvious stupidity of this “airplane design” your reporter wouldn’t be allowed a second chance to kiss a Boeing executive’s ass. One more example of how a wholly controllable media is the key to democracy.

    • Letsallbefriends

      Well, we’re all waiting for you to start your brilliant career in defence journalism.

      Do you find you get invited to many parties?

      • TinkersDam

        To be fair, Dfens has a long and sour history of exactly this sort of thing. He occasionaly implies an aerospace engineering background, and those postings are a little more useful.

        • Dfens

          Funny how it doesn’t occur to you that the two could be related. Would you think a concept car was “really cool” if the designer failed to leave any route to connect the driveshaft to the differential? F, who puts a top mounted engine directly behind a vortex strake? That’s worse than someone who puts the vertical stabilizers directly behind the vortex strakes even after the F-18 had all those problems with the verticals departing the aircraft for the same reason. Oh yeah, that happened to the F-22. Go figure. I’ve died and gone to Amerikanistan.

    • dddd

      This also just a blog. Relax.

    • B.O

      Like AvWeak, I suspect the “reporter” is actually a PR man for Boeing.

  • billw917

    Sharp looking aircraft.
    Still, it seems like manned combat aircraft will be unaffordable in the all-too-soon future. Why keep putting money into manned fighters or bombers? Think of the load already being carried by low performance drones.

    • dddd

      Until they can operate autonomously and flexibly, unmanned aircraft will always be vulnerable to jamming. I also think optionally manned (which this will probably be) is nice if you want to include it in the nuclear force, no?

  • Musson1

    Penetrating weapons. Not penetrating aircraft.

  • photo01

    It is nice to see our taxes are not wasted. We need more ways to kill. Our ‘defense’ budget is greater than that of the rest of the world combined. The last time that happened was pre WW2 Germany. Hmmmm.

    • crackedlenses

      We also happen to have been a world super-power who has be in more conflicts than ever since the Cold War. The defense budget is one of the few places I’m happy with my tax dollars going anyway…..

      • William C.

        Same. Compared to where Washington wastes most of our money, I’d love to see it used on things like this.

        • blight

          It’s a strange sentiment to see from a country founded on isolationist ideology.

          We like to talk the “Constitutionalist” talk, but in more than one way we have turned our backs on it.

          • crackedlenses

            The Constitution does not say we can’t invade countries to defend ourselves and our allies. The world is full of tyrants stepping all over the nations around them; if you want to sit back and watch the world burn around us, go ahead. Too bad the French didn’t have the same attitude when we were being worn down in the War for Independence…..

    • Yah Coyote

      Unfortunately the simularaties between 1930’s Germany and 2009 America are many: Lost a costly war (WW1 & Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan), Socialist party gaining seats in legislature (Nazi & Democrat), Macho homosexual movement gaining political gains (Nazi elite and DADT ended), and Leader moved from obscure unknown to national leadership post (Hitler & Obama). There are many other less obvious, yet the fact that there are many should make us aware we need to get off our duffs and vote for Tea Party candidates.

    • tiger

      You have a point. I would take a different knock on it. The threat is not migs or Su’s, but low tech Taliban types on the ground in t-shirts & jeans. . . A threat the 5 gen planes are useless for now. So why worry about Gen 6?

      • crackedlenses

        So the Chinese don’t decide we’re weak enough to step on the smaller countries around them with impunity. We must be ready to play in the major leagues, even if we practice in the little ones….

        • tiger

          We are joined at the hip with China. We are not going to fight them. They buy our debt. We buy their toys at Xmas. China has to to keep a billion workers at work. So why shoot your best customer?

  • halcyon_

    A twin engine stealthy aircraft would be great for the navy, if they could afford it. Better have a gun and more than 2 missiles though. When the battle becomes Stealth vs. Stealth we aren’t going to be able to stuff enough weapons into our aircraft.

  • Tad

    I say we quit monkeying around with single-digit-generation aircraft, we need to skip all that nonsense and go right to 10th-generation.

    • tiger

      Gundams for everybody!!!!

      • crackedlenses

        I claim dibs on the Exia….

  • Lance

    Not going to happen no funds we haven’t got our 5th gen fighter going yet. Boeing makes ugly planes too much anyway.

  • Guest

    If I had a beer for every vertical-tail-less fighter concept I’ve seen …


      You’d be quite drunk! On the other hand, the the propensity of Russia and China copying our designs … this one would have them running around the mulberry bush for quite some time.

  • Jeff M

    If I were going to build something new and innovative it’d be a line-of-sight UAV system. Put the pilot of the UAV in another aircraft with a focus on high-altitude, high-speed and stealth (maybe edge-of-space, the higher the better) and put a dozen or so pilots in that aircraft to control a few dozen state-of-the-art drones in the sky in the area, whatever the horizon, sortof like AWACS. Pilots would have sleeping quarters and the jet would stay aloft for 72-hour missions. We need some real innovation not just “better fighter jet” innovation.

  • Kski

    They have not even put the F-22s and F-35s into wide use. An already there makin plans for another multi million dollar and counting program.

  • Roland

    Boeing’s Phantom is a better candidate than F-35 for long range combat role. We probably need 2000 units of this for defense. Russia already have 1000 PAF-FA-50 on the market.

  • Dfens

    This piece of crap from the company who gave you the YF-23! Oh yeah, they had to hire contractors to design the YF-23. After all, that’s why Stonecipher started the “Phantom Works” so they wouldn’t have to hire outside people the next time. Too bad that plan failed so miserably. One defense contractor CEO lets the pangs of conscience get to him and he gets fired for banging a lobbyist. Hell, they’re lobbyists. That’s what they’re hired for. Just wait for the next military airplane competition. You’ll get a lot worse than the 2 POS options you got for JSF.

    • wtrix

      Small point though, if I may…

      YF-23 was created by Northrop. Not Boeing

    • William C.

      As wtrix said, the YF-23 was designed by Northrop and McDonnell Douglas, not Boeing.

      Also, the YF-23 was an excellent design and more capable than the YF-22 in some aspects.

      • Dfens

        Yeah, I’m sure 100,000 people designed the YF-23. That’s what made it so special. They YF-23 was designed by 2 people. One is more of an analyst, and the other more of a design specialist. It featured aerodynamic technology that none of you can even imagine exists, and because you can’t imagine it exists, you can pretend to be some sort of internet expert. The reality is, though, that what was lost when the defense industry eliminated weapons designers is far more than any of you will ever know. These people didn’t go on TV or start a website and tell everyone everything they knew.

        • saberhagen

          and what all these talk have to do with “This piece of crap from the company (you meant Boeing) who gave you the YF-23”? Shameless f00l

    • Mike

      Dfens: YF-23 was a Northrop design and build. The two built were stored outside the B-2 hangar at southbase at Edwards when I was there for flighttest. Please get your facts straight. By the way, the YF-23 was a very good plane, and many felt is was better than the F-22. The 23 competed with the 22 in the early 90’s. You are thinking of the guppy Boeing built to compete against the F-35. Your just another dweeb who doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground want to be.

  • Jay

    “The plane, which is still just a concept, would have long-ranger range and fly at “higher mach numbers” (faster) than jets like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and be able to supercruise, according to Davis.


    The same is true of the F-22.

    It appears that to Boeing, 5th gen is 4th gen without vertical control surfaces.

  • ranks

    Same old shit!

  • sobriquet

    Looks expensive as fuck.

  • Mike

    After the F-35, tactical planes will be unmanned. You can bet on it.

  • les

    I can’t see a sixth Gen fighter having an on-board pilot. The most limiting part of the fighter will be the human inside. The capability of the fighter will be so much more without the g-force limitations.

  • Jim Garrison

    What is he status of drone vs drone in aerial combat and drone vs conventional aircraft in aerial combat?

  • Dennis

    If any one has watched the Stealth Movie, the plane looks similar to “EDI” I’m sure this is the way they will go next. Unmanned aircraft with artificial intelligence that you can program in the mission like a tomahawk cruise missle and will probably be able to program in tactical abilities for offense and defense, or be controlled like the UAV’s.
    Me, if there going to go UAV style they build planes that don’t cost as much so they are easy to replace.
    Problem is there like in the stealth movie then warfare becomes to easy and no consequences for peoples actions and it becomes like a video game.

  • David Curcione

    The Date is 2050 A,D too the Sixth Geration Figter Will Be built to Hit Speeds of M.3 To M 4 + too!

  • Bob
  • will
  • Fahad

    i think it would some sort of plane that could change its shape during flight