Boeing is unveiling an updated version of its F/A-XXsixth-generation fighter concept at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Expositionin Washington DC this week.
The tail-less twin-engine stealth fighter design comes in “mannedand unmanned options as possibilities per the US Navy,” Boeing says. The designfeatures diverterless supersonic inlets reminiscent of those found on theLockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The Boeing concept also features canards, which is somewhatof a surprise because the motion of those forward mounted control surfaces isgenerally assumed to compromise a stealth aircraft’s frontal radarcross-section. But the lack of vertical tail surfaces suggests the aircraftwould be optimized for all-aspect broadband stealth, which would be needed foroperations in the most challenging anti-access/area denial environments.
Also of note in the manned version of the company’s F/A-XXconcept is the placement of the cockpit–rearward visibility appears to berestricted without the aid of a sensor apparatus similar to the F-35′sdistributed aperture system of six infrared cameras.
The Boeing F/A-XX concept is a response to a USN request forinformation (RFI) from April 2012 soliciting data for a replacement for theservice’s Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler fleets in the 2030s.The Super Hornet fleet is expected to start reaching the end of the jet’s 9000huseful lifespan during that time period.
“The intent of this research is to solicit Industry inputson candidate solutions for CVN [nuclear-powered aircraft carrier] basedaircraft to provide air supremacy with a multi-role strike capability in ananti-access/area denied (A2AD) operational environment,” the navy RFI hadstated. “Primary missions include, but are not limited to, air warfare (AW),strike warfare (STW), surface warfare (SUW), and close air support (CAS).”
Navy leaders had said at the time that they expect any newF/A-XX design to have greatly increased range and offer far superior kinematicperformance compared to existing tactical aircraft.