Boeing F/A-XX concept walkaround



Something has to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet after 2025. Why not this?

I doubt that’s Boeing sales pitch, but, in fairness, I haven’t had an opportunity to discuss this 1/16th scale model — displayed today at the Navy League Sea Air Space Expo 2010 in National Harbor, Md., — with the relevant program staff (No pressure, Boeing communications staff!).

I first spied a photo of this concept last year on a visit to Boeing’s St. Louis facility, where the F/A-18 is manufactured. That came about one year after the US Navy first publicly unveiled the F/A-XX concept at an AUVSI convention.

Technically, Boeing’s concept does not compete with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The F/A-XX program intends to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which had replaced Grumman F-14s. The F-35 will replace F/A-18Cs after 2015.

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25 Responses to Boeing F/A-XX concept walkaround

  1. Robert 4 May, 2010 at 3:35 am #

    The geometry is essentially a fusion of [let's see]: F22, YF23 and B2 or another modern flying wing.

    With conceptual projects like this (as opposed to those designed to counter SPECIFIC threats) and current state of procurement practice, it will almost certainly end up being another unrealistically and extremely costly futuristic project.

  2. ArkadyRenko 4 May, 2010 at 3:42 am #

    Looks pretty, do you know anything else about it?

    Looks like its set up for 1 or 2 bomb bays, and 2 missile bays. And looks like its trying to fix the faults of the F-35.

    Two engines instead of one.
    And minimal radiation signature.

    Question, do you think it’ll be a contender to replace the F-15E? Or maybe back up the F-22 in the air superiority role?

  3. sferrin 4 May, 2010 at 3:47 am #

    Okay, I can see the brush stroke in the paint but. . .what are we looking at again? (Did you happen to get any footage from a bit further away? ;-) )

  4. Dave 4 May, 2010 at 5:09 am #

    It’s sweet looking plane… but I have my doubts as to wether we will build another manned fighter after the F-35. Perhaps if it’s optionally manned?

    In any case, I think Gates needs to go, he seems intent on destroying US tactical airpower- especially in light of his attack on the Navy’s carrier fleet this morning. I have to ask, given his slash and burn approach, will we have need for a such a plane if he cuts the fleet to, say, six carriers?

    It could also be argued he’s out to optimize the entire military for the low-end of the spectrum given his comments and actions. So basically, he’s already had his way with the USAF and Army. Apparently now the USN and USMC are next since he went on to attack not only the carriers, but the destroyer and cruiser fleets, and to some extent the submarines. He also went after the EFV. Perhaps he aims for unilateral disarmament on our part? With the remaining forces being optimized as some sort of quasi global police force…

    Anyways, I don’t want to find out. Time to get rid of Gates.

  5. Howe 4 May, 2010 at 5:43 am #

    zoom out next time…

    the aircraft looks pretty cool, obviously stealth

    They should build it, and more super hornets, and more F-22′s, and cancel the F-35.

  6. ikkeman 4 May, 2010 at 6:40 am #

    It doesn’t look like there’s a good view out from the cockpit – optionally piloted? or will sensor fusion allow the pilot to “see” through bulkheads with enough resolution to do all aspects of his job (then why include the heavy glass bit? – the view)

    Tailless and wide spaced non thrust vectored exhausts – wouldn’t want to be in one with an engine out.

    it does look very good though

  7. Moose 4 May, 2010 at 7:23 am #

    I believe optionally manned is one of the ideas F/A-XX is kicking around, Howe.

    If Boeing really wants to turn some heads, they need a flying subscale demonstrator. They can use Phantom Ray components to make an unmanned scale tester, get something flying that the Admirals and SecDef can look at.

    Also, the Navy needs to do anything and everything they can to prevent USAF becoming lead agency on F/A-XX. Even if the program goes a far different direction from this Boeing model, I imagine it is inevitable that the Air Force and other countries’ militaries will have to become involved to make the procurement case for F/A-XX,. But if USAF takes over the USN is never going to get the plane(s) they want.

  8. Moose 4 May, 2010 at 7:24 am #

    dunno why that went twice, sorry

  9. Marcase 4 May, 2010 at 7:31 am #

    Thanks for the quick walkaround. So I assume the F/A-XX model was not just a mere PPT pic.

  10. flateric 4 May, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    Stephen – did you get photos of the thing (say you did)?

  11. Surfcaster 4 May, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    Powerpoint has a new plug-in: Rapid Prototyping. You can go from a PPT slide to a scale model in only two B.S.O.D.s

    OK, back on track. >Something< needs to be pursued.

  12. Bjørnar Bolsøy 4 May, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    Perhaps there will be two similar designs for the next FX competition. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-44_MANTA

    B. Bolsøy/Oslo

  13. Grunty 4 May, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    If this comes to anything, the eventual platform selected for F/A-XX could be an ideal replacement for countries operating the Tornado – like the UK who has exactly the same year for a replacement as the US Navy has with the Super Hornet.

  14. alloycowboy 4 May, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    The design seems to lack interior volume for fuel, weapons, and systems. If they send this design up against a Lockheed Martin design they are going loose for similar reasons the YF-23 lost. (No VOLUME!)

  15. Stephen Trimble 4 May, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    Thanks for the comments, fellas. The X-44 link is really interesting.

    As for the camera angle, I was just trying to record the lines of the weapons bays. I’m not sure why really. Just for posterity, I guess.

  16. Robert 4 May, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

    The shape looks “swell” and the Boeing proposal’s timing, impeccable.

    But there is no indication whatsoever that 1.) we will ever need it, 2.) it will have any tactical merit, 3.) the project will be able to overcome the ongoing problems that plague similar projects today.

    They always look swell on paper, PPT and in scaled model, after all. Practicality? Reality check.

  17. Flateric 5 May, 2010 at 12:13 am #

    X-44 Manta is a project back from 90s that has nothing to do with F/A-XX

  18. FighterFan 5 May, 2010 at 7:32 am #

    Looks like the emphasis is on LO beyond 5th Gen capabilities – the lack of verticals would eliminate “bow tie” RCS signatures. It might also be designed to defeat VHF radars, which are being developed as counter-stealth defenses.

  19. Airplanejim 5 May, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    Certainly better looking than Boeings version of the JSF.

  20. Thaad Beier 5 May, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    I really like the F35 bump-cowl design, eliminating the need for the ugly and stealth-challenged boundary-layer splitter gap. It seemed like a huge advance, and one I expected to see in future stealth designs.

  21. Neil Baumgardner 5 May, 2010 at 9:57 pm #

    Looks like the NATF concept reborn!

  22. Joe Katzman 11 May, 2010 at 9:49 pm #

    A-12 meets X-45 Phantom Ray.

    My strong belief is that the Super Hornet will be replaced by N-UCAS (NGC’s X-47B), or something like it. If there’s a flyoff after the N-UCAS initial research & fielding program, this could be an “optionally manned” competitor. With better inherent all-aspect stealth than the F-35C, and the ability to perform some level of air superiority missions if needed.

    Will it win? Don’t know, but Boeing ill need something to compete. Question for Boeing is whether it’s too high end, given the coming budget/ entitlements crunch. Is General Atomics closer to the mark with its Predator C “Sea Avenger”? If it can modify the design to launch without catapults off of LHA/LHDs, maybe.

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