Russia’s newest Su-57 fifth-generation stealth fighter jet has certainly made numerous headlines as a direct challenger to America’s F-22 and or F-35 combat planes. Now, it seems Russia is outlining its path to develop a sixth-generation fighter, according to media reports.
The new combat jets will be hypersonic; the first flight is scheduled for the mid-2020s. This was reported in June 2016 by TASS, citing the head of the Directorate of military aircraft programs, the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) Vladimir Mikhailov. “The [prototype] rise into the air, as we plan, no later than two or three years after 2020”, said Mikhailov. UAC plans to fly a hypersonic sixth-generation fighter before 2025. Mikhailov stated the program for the jet is currently underway, including engineering design.
More recently, as first reported by Defence Blog, Russia’s Zvezda news channel “accidentally” revealed a model of the hypersonic 6th-generation fighter jet.
Military experts told the blog that Russia’s hypersonic combat plane is referred to as the Pigeon, because of the tail design.
The new plane is expected to have a twin-tail configuration that allows it to use its own shockwaves to increase lift and decrease drag. The jet would be able to travel at five times greater than the speed of sound, over Mach 5-6.
Defense Blog did not specify on the type of engine that would be used in the aircraft, nor did they specify maximum speed, range, and or altitude height.
Despite President Trump’s mixed feelings about Russia, a clear consensus is emerging on both sides of the Atlantic: there is a new Cold War brewing, with new dangers dead ahead.
The race for sixth-generation fighter jets and other futuristic technologies has started, and this was evident early this year as US Air Force Research Laboratory released a video of what its sixth-generation fighter jet could look like.
The promotional video shows a conceptual sixth-generation fighter jet, firing what appears to be a directed energy gun that cuts an enemy fighter in half.
Most of the capabilities of Russian and US sixth-generation fighter are unknown at the moment, but some have speculated it could have autonomous flight, extended combat range, and larger payloads. It is likely that these aircraft will travel at hypersonic speeds and be able to deploy hypersonic weapons.
The bottom line: Whichever country can develop and deploy hypersonic warplanes and weapons first, they will be the dominant superpower for generations to come. As of right now, it is anyone’s guess.