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  • We don't know what it looks like, how fast it is, what it can do, or even who built it,

  • but we do know one thing for sure - the US Air Force has secretly built and flown a new

  • fighter jet, shocking the world and setting records in the process.

  • The world's superpowers are currently embroiled in a heated race for total air dominance.

  • Fighter jets in use around the world today, like the US's F-22 and F-35, China's J-20

  • and Russia's SU-57, are currently the top of the line in fighter jet technology, but

  • these 5th generation jets are aging rapidly, and the race is on to be the first to develop

  • a brand-new, state of the art 6th generation fighter jet and be the country to claim the

  • top spot in air supremacy.

  • With this recent announcement, has the US secretly won the race and achieved dominance

  • in the skies?

  • On September 15th, 2020, Dr. Will Roper, the head of acquisition for the US Air Force,

  • shocked the world when he made a startling announcement during a video presentation at

  • the Air Force Association's Virtual Air, Space and Cyber Conference.

  • Roper revealed to a stunned audience that the Air Force's Next Generation Air Dominance,

  • or NGAD, program, has successfully designed, tested and even flown a brand new fighter

  • jet.

  • NGAD has come so far,” he said, “that the full-scale flight demonstrator has already

  • flown in the physical world.

  • It's broken a lot of records in the doing.”

  • Most shockingly of all, the entire process from design to test flight was completed in

  • just 1 year.

  • Despite making this shocking announcement and confirming the existence of a new, fully-functioning

  • fighter jet, Roper declined to provide any details whatsoever about the craft, leaving

  • the public in suspense and keeping the specifics of the craft a mystery.

  • This isn't totally surprising, as the Air Force doesn't want to give away its secrets

  • to other nations, but it hasn't stopped the world from speculating about what this

  • new jet looks like and what it's capable of.

  • Since this new plane is widely considered to be the US's first 6th generation fighter

  • jet, experts have guessed that it was largely designed tokillother 5th generation

  • fighter jets in air-to-air combat.

  • Since we don't yet have any details about the new plane's specs and capabilities,

  • we have to look to its predecessor for clues.

  • The F-35 is the US Air Force's current state-of-the-art multirole fighter jet with some truly impressive

  • features, and it was designed by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin in 2006.

  • The jet, which is 51 feet long with a 35 foot wingspan, is capable of reaching Mach 1.5

  • speeds - about 1,200 miles per hour.

  • It can withstand 9g forces, and has a maximum ceiling of over 50,000 feet.

  • It's powerful engine produces 43,000 pounds of thrust, and it can carry 18,000 pounds

  • of payload, all while employing the latest in stealth technology.

  • The jet is manned by a single crew member, and was designed to provide the pilot with

  • unsurpassed situational awareness through an impressive advanced sensor package.

  • The craft gathers, fuses and distributes more info than any other fighter in history - until

  • now, at least - and it feeds this information directly to the pilot via a helmet mounted

  • display system, giving operators a distinct advantage over adversaries.

  • Given what we know about the F-35's advanced features, and the fact that this new 6th generation

  • fighter will aim to go head to head with the F-35 and its cohorts, we can expect all of

  • this and more from the new, secret fighter jet.

  • Improvements might include even more advanced stealth technology to reduce radar detection,

  • further improvements to data collection and analysis, and even potentially the capability

  • for unmanned flight given the recent rise in the popularity of drones for military applications.

  • We'll have to wait for more information from the Air Force to know for sure what this

  • new jet will be capable of, but it's likely to be quite impressive.

  • One thing is pretty certain, this new plane might not even be a traditional fighter at

  • all, with zero capability to dogfight.

  • Currently the US has a pressing need for aircraft that can operate deep in the Pacific in a

  • potential fight against China.

  • With US carriers at risk from China's sizable ballistic missile forces, a 6th gen fighter

  • may have more in common with the iconic B2 stealth bomber than what we typically think

  • of as a fighter.

  • The size of the aircraft would be pushing the capability of carrier-based launch systems,

  • and a wide, flat delta wing body would allow it to carry large amounts of fuel and thus

  • keep vulnerable carriers far from Chinese shores.

  • In order to maximize stealth, a 6th gen fighter will almost certainly not have a tail, making

  • dogfight manuevers impossible.

  • Instead, the craft will likely operate as a missile tug of sorts, firing on targets

  • from extreme distance.

  • Even more likely, the new fighter will instead leave the fighting to swarms of unmanned drones

  • that it controls remotely, leaving the human pilot hundreds of miles out of the fight.

  • As far as what this new fighter jet actually looks like though, Roper was also mum about

  • the details.

  • But some astute observers suspect that the Air Force has given us hints about what to

  • expect from this new craft.

  • Just days after Roper's shocking announcement, the Air Force released a graphic celebrating

  • the 73rd anniversary of the service which prominently featured images of an as-yet-unseen

  • aircraft, prompting many to suspect that this is a subtle nod to the new secret fighter

  • jet.

  • If this is true, the new jet is a departure from plans we've seen from companies like

  • Lockheed Martin and Boeing for their version of a 6th generation fighter.

  • The graphic features a plane with a unique triangular shape from nose to tail with no

  • obvious tail planes, which could mean the craft is based on theflying wingdesign

  • which aims to reduce radar detectability.

  • The plane in the graphic also features two engines located near the dorsal fin, and a

  • cockpit, which points to a craft that can at least be optionally manned if it does indeed

  • have remote capabilities.

  • Of course, the aircraft in the anniversary graphic could be entirely fictional, but it

  • does look eerily similar to a mysterious aircraft that was photographed in flight over the US

  • in 2014.

  • Only time will tell exactly what the new craft will really look like, but we might be in

  • for an entirely new, futuristic design.

  • Roper even refused to disclose which company built this new fighter jet.

  • In recent decades, the US's fighter jets have exclusively been designed and built by

  • aerospace giants like Lockheed Martin and Boeing, but Roper did allude to the fact that

  • the field might be opening up to new competitors.

  • This is thanks in large part to advancements in digital technology that has helped shorten

  • the development timeline for advanced fighter jets, and which will revolutionize the aerospace

  • industry.

  • Roper sees these technological advancements as a return to thegood old daysof

  • aircraft assembly in the 1970s.

  • This may seem like a bit of an oxymoron, but what he means is that, decades ago, it wasn't

  • uncommon to have dozens of bidders on military contracts, whereas more recently we typically

  • see the same 2 or 3 companies bidding time after time.

  • With today's advances in technology, firms no longer need to have huge, state of the

  • art facilities and unlimited budgets to compete in this space.

  • Now, smaller companies with simpler facilities, advanced technology and small but impressive

  • teams of engineers and mechanics are back in the game, and Roper sees this return to

  • form as a positive, expecting it to boost innovation as well as slash development costs.

  • In his announcement, Roper pointed out that we haven't seen such rapid development since

  • World War II.

  • The F-35, the US's current leading-edge 5th generation fighter jet, took more than

  • a decade to get from the initial design to a fully-functioning, flying prototype.

  • For this new jet, the entire process was completed in just one year.

  • This astonishing feat was made possible thanks to modern technology that's already in use

  • in the automobile industry and even Formula 1 cars, which allowed designers and engineers

  • to fully build, test and tweak the plane virtually before ever having to build a single physical

  • piece of the jet.

  • Of course, using computer-aided design technology to design and model new planes is nothing

  • new - it's been the standard first step in any design process for decades.

  • What is new is a concept called digital twinning, which lets designers collect and analyze mountains

  • of data and accurately test a vehicle under real-world conditions in a digital environment.

  • Digital twinning involves equipping a real, physical object - like a car or a plane - with

  • hundreds of tiny sensors, and then using technology to build a digital model, or twin, that mirrors

  • the real thing.

  • In this case, the F-35 was used as the real-world, physical model, and sensors on the F-35 fed

  • computers with real-world data that allowed them to modify the plane's design and test

  • it's reactions to real-world forces under realistic mission settings.

  • While it might seem strange that the Air Force made this stunning announcement without releasing

  • any details about their newest jet, Roper explains the reasoning behind the decision.

  • They declined to release any details because the project is, of course, highly top secret,

  • and the Air Force isn't ready to let their competitors know exactly what they're up

  • against.

  • Instead, the whole point of the announcement was to prove to naysayers that this new digital

  • technology is not only viable, but is the way of the future.

  • Roper talked about how he's had to withstand months of comments from his colleagues about

  • how this technology, however great it is, could never be used to create full scale warfighting

  • systems, when all he could do was smile and nod while knowing full well that his team

  • was in the process of doing just that.

  • My hope is to create greater credibility in the process, at least within my own team”,

  • he said during the release.

  • They will know to get smart on this technology because we're going to train on it, we're

  • going to drill on it until this is the way we do business.”

  • What can we expect for the future of air dominance?

  • Well, of course, we can look forward to more details about this new fighter jet in the

  • near future, but in the longer term, we can expect this recent announcement to shake up

  • the entire aerospace industry.

  • Thanks to digital advances, the industry will no longer be dominated by 2 or 3 giants, and

  • more competition can lead to further innovation in this space.

  • And it's not just fighter jets - Roper expects that digital twinning technology to be used

  • for everything from satellites to intercontinental ballistic missiles.

  • With significant reductions in the time and cost required to design, test and build new

  • craft, we can probably expect many more of these shocking, secret announcements in the

  • future.

  • Even though we don't know what it looks like, how fast it is, what it can do, or even

  • who built it, now that we know that the US Air Force has secretly built and flown a new

  • fighter jet in under a year, the world will be watching closely for details of the first

  • 6th generation fighter.

  • It's too soon to say whether this new fighter jet will secure the US's spot as the leader

  • in air combat and help them achieve total air dominance, but it's safe to say that

  • the world of air combat will never be the same again.

We don't know what it looks like, how fast it is, what it can do, or even who built it,

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US Air Force Has Secretly Built and Flown a New Fighter Jet

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/01/30
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