A Chinese defense firm has offered the public a look at a prospective sixth-generation fighter jet likely to be in the works.
Even with just a handful of countries able to field advanced fifth-generation stealth fighters, designers are pushing ahead on still-more-advanced aircraft’s, incorporating AI and other new technology.
The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has offered the public a glimpse of a sixth-generation aircraft design in a video released on Tuesday.
In the footage posted on Chinese social media, a plane with an appearance similar to the Chengdu J-20, China’s present stealth fighter, zips across the screen.
However, the jet was missing the tail fins and canards and had a more blended and fluid body that looked almost organic. The video includes other Chinese jets as well, including the JH-7, members of the Su-27 family, an H-6 bomber, drones, and a Y-20 transport.
The image resembled concepts shown by western planners for a sixth-generation fighter, such as the US Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program and the European Tempest project.
It also looked broadly similar to a sixth-generation concept model that appeared at the Zhuhai Air Show last November, which had sharper corners than the computer-generated model seen earlier this week.
This isn’t the first time that footage of an advanced Chinese aircraft has been shown.
Images of the H-20 stealth bomber presently in the works appeared on Weibo last August, although the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) teased a glimpse of the jet – under a tarpaulin of course – in a January 2021 promotional video.
A day after the video was released, the Chinese daily Global Times published a report containing interviews with several Chinese military aviation experts.
One, Fu Qianshao, confirmed the project was in the works and that Chinese designers were confident the final product would outpace any competing US design.
According to the report, the aircraft’s smooth, tailless design will give it superior stealth capability to the present fifth-generation fighters, such as China’s J-20, Russia’s Su-57, and the US’ F-22 and F-35 aircraft.
The design would also give it a longer range and greater fuel efficiency.
While generations of aircraft are not a firmly defined or universally agreed upon method of categorization, many who refer to sixth generation aircraft are typically implying the plane will have advanced new technologies not seen in even the most advanced jets presently in service.
Sixth generation aircraft carry lasers or directed energy weapons, adaptive engines, hyper-sonic weapons capabilities, and AI incorporation, including the option of flying pilot-less. Such planes are also assumed to be made of advanced composite materials.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2023.