21 janvier 2020 | Local, Aérospatial

F-35s Are Dead: The Sixth Generation of Fighter Aircraft Is On Its Way

F-35s Are Dead: The Sixth Generation of Fighter Aircraft Is On Its Way

by Kris Osborn

Key point: At this rate, the F-35 won't even see combat before its outmoded. 

It is also possible that the new 6th-generation fighter could use advanced, futuristic stealth technology able to enable newer, more capable air defenses. The air defenses of potential adversaries are increasingly using faster computing processing power and are better networked together, more digital, able to detect a wider range of frequencies and able to detect stealthy aircraft at farther distances.

The Air Force has begun experimenting and conceptual planning for a 6th generation fighter aircraft to emerge in coming years as a technological step beyond the F-35, service leaders said.

"We have started experimentation, developmental planning and technology investment," Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Acquisition, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

The new aircraft, engineered to succeed the 5th-generation F-35 Joint StrikeFighter and explode onto the scene by the mid 2030s, is now in the earliest stages of conceptual development with the Air Force and Navy. The two services are now working together on early conceptual discussions about the types of technologies and capabilities the aircraft will contain. While the Air Force has not yet identified a platform for the new aircraft. The Air Force characterizes the effort in terms of a future capability called Next-Gen Air Dominance.

While Bunch did not elaborate on the specifics of ongoing early efforts, he did make reference to the Air Superiority 2030 Flight Plan which delineates some key elements of the service's strategy for a future platform.

Fighter  jets in 20-years may likely contain the next-generation of stealth technology, electronic warfare, sophisticated computer processing and algorithms, increased autonomy, hypersonic weapons and so-called "smart-skins" where sensors are built into the side of the aircraft itself.

Some of these characteristics may have been on display more than a year ago when Northrop Grumman's SuperBowl AD revealed a flashy first look at its rendering of a new 6th-generation fighter jet.

Northrop is one of a number of major defense industry manufacturers who will bid for a contract to build the new plane - when the time is right. While there are not many details available on this work, it is safe to assume Northrop is advancing concepts, technology and early design work toward this end. Boeing is also in the early phases of development of a 6th-gen design, according to a report in Defense News.

The Navy's new aircraft will, at least in part, replace the existing inventory of F/A-18 Super Hornets which will start to retire by 2035, Navy officials said.

The Navy vision for a future carrier air wing in 2040 and beyond is comprised of the carrier-launched variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C, and legacy aircraft such as the EA-18G Growler electronic jamming aircraft.

Also, around this time is when Navy planners envision its 6th generation aircraft to be ready, an aircraft which will likely be engineered for both manned and unmanned missions.

Technologies are rapidly advancing in coatings, electromagnetic spectrum issues, artificial intelligence, maneuvering, superiority in sensing the battlespace, communications and data links, Navy leaders have said.

Navy officials also add that the Navy is likely to develop new carrier-launched unmanned air vehicles in coming years as well. For instance, Northrop's historic X-47B demonstrator aircraft was the first unmanned system to successfully launch and land on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Analysts have speculated that as 6th generation developers seek to engineer a sixth-generation aircraft, they will likely explore a range of next-generation technologies such as maximum sensor connectivity, super cruise ability and an aircraft with electronically configured “smart skins.”

Super cruise technology would enable the new fighter jet to cruise at supersonic speeds without needing afterburner, analysts have explained. As a result, super cruise brings a substantial tactical advantage because it allows for high-speed maneuvering without needing afterburner, therefore enable much longer on-location mission time. Such a scenario provides a time advantage as the aircraft would likely outlast a rival aircraft likely to run out of fuel earlier. The Air Force F-22 has a version of supercruise technology.

Maximum connectivity would mean massively increased communications and sensor technology such as having an ability to achieve real-time connectivity with satellites, other aircraft and anything that could provide relevant battlefield information.The new aircraft might also seek to develop the ability to fire hypersonic weapons, however such a development would hinge upon successful progress with yet-to-be-proven technologies such as scramjets traveling at hypersonic speeds. Some tests of early renderings of this technology have been tested successfully and yet other attempts have failed.

The Air Force Chief Scientist, Dr. Geoffrey Zacharias, has told Scout Warrior that the US anticipates having hypersonic weapons by the 2020s, hypersonic drones by the 2030s and recoverable hypersonic drone aircraft by the 2040s. There is little doubt that hypersonic technology, whether it be weaponry or propulsion, or both, will figure prominently into future aircraft designs.

Smart aircraft skins would involve dispersing certain technologies or sensors across the fuselage and further integrating them into the aircraft itself, using next-generation computer algorithms to organize and display information for the pilot. We see some of this already in the F-35; the aircraft sensor fusion uses advanced computer technology to collect, organize and display combat relevant information from a variety of otherwise disparate sensors onto a single screen for pilots. In addition, Northrop's Distributed Aperture System is engineered to provide F-35 pilots with a 360-degree view of the battlespace. Cameras on the DAS are engineered into parts of the F-35 fuselage itself to reduce drag and lower the aircraft's radar signature.

 

Smart skins with distributed electronics means that instead of having systems mounted on the aircraft, you would have apertures integrated on the skin of the aircraft, analysts have said.

This could reduce drag, increase speed and maneuverability while increasing the technological ability of the sensors.

It is also possible that the new 6th-generation fighter could use advanced, futuristic stealth technology able to enable newer, more capable air defenses. The air defenses of potential adversaries are increasingly using faster computing processing power and are better networked together, more digital, able to detect a wider range of frequencies and able to detect stealthy aircraft at farther distances.

 

The new 6th-generation fighter will also likely fire lasers and have the ability to launch offensive electronic attacks.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/f-35s-are-dead-sixth-generation-fighter-aircraft-its-way-114901

 

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  • exactEarth and MarineTraffic Announce Channel Partner Agreement

    13 juin 2019 | Local, C4ISR

    exactEarth and MarineTraffic Announce Channel Partner Agreement

    CAMBRIDGE, ON and ATHENS, Greece, June 13, 2019 /CNW/ - exactEarth Ltd. ("exactEarth") (XCT:TSX), a leading provider of Satellite-AIS data services, and MarineTraffic, a leading global provider of ship tracking and maritime intelligence, announce that they have entered into a three-year channel partner agreement (the "Agreement"). Under terms of the Agreement, MarineTraffic will deploy exactEarth's exactView RT data into its online maritime services products to help bring real-time, business-critical and actionable vessel information to maritime industry participants. exactView RT consists of 58 operational payloads and seven orbital spares that were designed and built by Harris Corporation and that are hosted onboard the Iridium NEXT constellation of satellites, which is owned and operated by Iridium Communications Inc. exactView RT's advanced maritime payloads cover the entire maritime VHF radio band and leverage the unique cross-linked architecture of the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation to deliver AIS and other vessel-based VHF data services from more than 500,000 vessels, anywhere on the globe, relaying that data securely to customers in real-time. MarineTraffic owns the world's preeminent ship-tracking website, which attracts approximately six million unique visitors per month. The company operates 2,000 AIS stations in more than 165 countries around-the-world, delivering the most comprehensive AIS coastal tracking facility available today. For companies in the maritime sector, MarineTraffic is a preferred tool for fleet management, alert and notification systems, vessel particulars, port statistics and actionable intelligence through API. "MarineTraffic is a leading provider of vessel movement information services and we look forward to contributing to their ongoing efforts to enhance their customer experience," said Peter Mabson, President & CEO of exactEarth. "This Agreement opens-up another channel for our Satellite-AIS data services and is a further positive indication of the response we have received from customers, prospects and partners regarding the real-time functionality of exactView RT. With its superior vessel detection, rapid update rate and reliability, exactView RT is becoming a "must-have" data source on major data platforms throughout the maritime industry." Argyris Stasinakis, Partner Business Development, MarineTraffic said, "The addition of exactEarth's high resolution, real-time AIS data means that MarineTraffic is now the go-to source for any professional seeking the most comprehensive view of shipping movements. Users of our platform exploiting our ocean coverage services will see enhanced functionality thanks to the higher frequency, coverage and less than one-minute latency delivered by the exactView RT satellite constellation. This means that our popular predictive services will be more accurate than ever before, allowing our customers to monitor and plan more precisely." About MarineTraffic With headquarters in Athens and international offices in the UK and Singapore, MarineTraffic is the global ship tracking and maritime intelligence provider. Leveraging AIS technology, MarineTraffic is at the forefront of a movement taking shipping into a new digital era. The company's range of services deliver increased transparency to the shipping markets through the provision of high-quality data for analysis, which supports forecasting and informed decision making. MarineTraffic receives analyses and stores millions of vessel positions every day. This data is collected through the world's most extensive network of AIS stations before being enriched to deliver business-critical information. Current positions and vessel's tracks are displayed on a Live Map, with historical positions, vessel details, port conditions and statistics being made available throughout the website. www.marinetraffic.com About exactEarth Ltd. exactEarth is a leading provider of global maritime vessel data for ship tracking and maritime situational awareness solutions. Since its establishment in 2009, exactEarth has pioneered a powerful new method of maritime surveillance called Satellite-AIS and has delivered to its clients a view of maritime behaviours across all regions of the world's oceans unrestricted by terrestrial limitations. exactEarth has deployed an operational data processing supply chain involving a constellation of satellites, receiving ground stations, patented decoding algorithms and advanced "big data" processing and distribution facilities. This ground-breaking system provides a comprehensive picture of the location of AIS equipped maritime vessels throughout the world and allows exactEarth to deliver data and information services characterized by high performance, reliability, security and simplicity to large international markets.  For more information, visit www.exactearth.com   Forward-Looking Statements This news release contains statements that, to the extent they are not recitations of historical fact, may constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities laws. Forward-looking statements may include financial and other projections, as well as statements regarding exactEarth's future plans, our ability to continue as a going concern, objectives or economic performance, or the assumptions underlying any of the foregoing, including statements regarding, among other things, expectations of our exactView RT offering relative to competitors, timing of the achievement of real-time global vessel tracking via our second-generation constellation, timing expectations with respect to launch of satellites, expectations of the exactView RT capabilities driving growth, growth opportunities for the Company in the maritime information services market and the cost and revenue share in connection with the Harris Agreement. exactEarth uses words such as "may", "would", "could", "will", "likely", "expect", "anticipate", "believe", "intend", "plan", "forecast", "project", "estimate" and similar expressions to identify forward-looking statements. Any such forward-looking statements are based on assumptions and analyses made by exactEarth in light of its experience and its perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments, as well as other factors exactEarth believes are appropriate under the relevant circumstances. However, whether actual results and developments will conform to exactEarth's expectations and predictions is subject to any number of risks, assumptions and uncertainties. Many factors could cause exactEarth's actual results, historical financial statements, or future events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements contained in this news release. These factors include, without limitation: uncertainty in the global economic environment; fluctuations in currency exchange rates; delays in the purchasing decisions of exactEarth's customers; the competition exactEarth faces in its industry and/or marketplace; the further delayed launch of satellites; the reduced scope of significant existing contracts; and the possibility of technical, logistical or planning issues in connection with the deployment of exactEarth's products or services. https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/exactearth-and-marinetraffic-announce-channel-partner-agreement-865863568.html

  • Canada takes initial step in modernizing fighter aircraft training ranges

    25 février 2019 | Local, Aérospatial

    Canada takes initial step in modernizing fighter aircraft training ranges

    DAVID PUGLIESE The federal government has issued a notice for a proposed procurement that would ultimately see the modernization of RCAF fighter aircraft training ranges. The government is looking to develop a road map for the modernization of RCAF fighter aircraft training ranges, and to allow for the creation of what it is calling Live-Virtual-Constructive (LVC) training and experimental environments. Details of the proposed procurement were released last week to industry. The road map for the modernization will include the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range and Bagotville training ranges as primary ranges, and other air training ranges including and not limited to, Gagetown, Wainwright, Valcartier, Nanoose and Suffield as secondary ranges, according to the government notice. In December, Postmedia reported that the RCAF was postponing its major exercise in 2019 at Cold Lake as it brings in improvements to its fighter jet base in Alberta. Exercise Maple Flag, which was to take place in Cold Lake, Alta., is the premier air force training event that allows pilots to test their skills with scenarios similar to “real-world” operations. But Royal Canadian Air Force commander Lt.-Gen. Al Meinzinger announced in December that Maple Flag won’t be held next year as the service brings in improvements to the base and range that are designed to boost training for both Canada and its allies. Col. Paul Doyle, commander of 4 Wing at Cold Lake, told Postmedia the new infrastructure will eventually include a specialized facility to allow for larger classified planning sessions, briefings and debriefings about missions. In addition, work will be done on new communications systems, data links and upgrades to the threat emitter pods that are on the base’s weapons range. Maple Flag is primarily conducted in the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, a training area of more than a million hectares, located about 70 kilometres north of Cold Lake. It is a major effort for European air forces and those from other nations to come to northern Alberta for the training and Canada’s allies, while still keen to train there, have noted the need for improvements at the base, according to military officers. “Infrastructure-wise, it’s to have the facilities to allow us together to plan, brief and debrief at a classification level that allows us and our allies to maximize our training on a large force employment exercise,” Doyle said in December. Computer networks will be improved and the Air Combat Manoeuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) System will be upgraded, he added. The ACMI system is capable of simulating air-to-air, air-to-surface, and surface-to-air weapons employment with real-time monitoring capabilities as they relate to actual aircraft position. The ACMI system was developed by Cubic Global Defense and first installed in 1982, according to the RCAF. It was upgraded in 2003. There are two main components of an ACMI system: the instrumentation pods and the tactical display system. The mobile pods contain the avionics that track and record aircraft events and position. The display system allows its users to control, track, and monitor the exercise as it happens, and provide mission debriefs upon completion, according to the RCAF. “We want to make (the systems) more robust, better connected,” Doyle said. “That is something we can benefit from on a daily basis” in addition to improving future Maple Flags. “Threats are evolving and modernizing,” Doyle explained. “We want to make sure we’re on that leading edge.” He declined to get into specifics about various threats air crews are facing but Doyle did highlight the development of integrated air defence systems that some nations are putting in place. Some social media posts have indicated the Maple Flag postponement was due to a lack of Canadian pilots and fighter jets or delays in Canada receiving new aircraft. But Doyle said such claims don’t reflect reality. “Do we have shortages? Sure. But this in no shape or way has anything to do with that,” he added. Officials at Cold Lake have been advocating for several years for the improvements so as to continue to attract allied nations to Maple Flag and to keep the RCAF’s own training regime up to date. https://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/canada-takes-initial-step-in-modernizing-fighter-aircraft-training-ranges

  • New defence procurement agency would be disruptive, costly

    20 février 2020 | Local, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

    New defence procurement agency would be disruptive, costly

    It almost seemed like a throwaway line at the end of the Liberal Party’s 2019 election platform, in a section on proposed approaches to security: “To ensure that Canada’s biggest and most complex defence procurement projects are delivered on time and with greater transparency to Parliament, we will move forward with the creation of Defence Procurement Canada.” Little was said about the proposal during the election campaign, but in the mandate letters to ministers that followed, National Defence (DND), Public Services and Procurement (PSPC), and Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard were tasked with bringing forward options to establish Defence Procurement Canada (DPC), a priority, the Prime Minister wrote, “to be developed concurrently with ongoing procurement projects and existing timelines.” Whether DPC would be a department, standalone agency or new entity within an existing department isn’t clear. Nor is it apparent how the government would consolidate and streamline the myriad procurement functions of multiple departments. Jody Thomas, deputy minister of National Defence, acknowledged as much during an address to the Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI) Jan. 29 when asked about DPC progress. “I don’t know what it is going to look like … We’re building a governance to look at what the options could be and we are studying what other countries have done,” she said, noting that a standalone agency outside the department of defence has not necessarily worked particularly well in other countries. “Everything is on the table. We’re looking at it, but we haven’t actually begun the work in earnest.” The idea of moving defence procurement under a single point of accountability is hardly new. Alan Williams, a former assistant deputy minister of Material (Adm Mat), made the case for a single agency in a 2006 book, Reinventing Canadian Defence Procurement. And the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) issued a report in 2009 calling for a “separate defence procurement agency reporting through a single Minister … [to] consolidate procurement, industrial, contracting and trade mandates into one new department, like a Defence Production Department, reporting to a minister.” More recently, an interim report on defence procurement by the Senate Committee on National Defence in June 2019 argued that “a single agency could simplify the complex procurement governance framework. Serious consideration could also be given to empowering project officials and making the Department of National Defence the lead department.” Williams remains a strong proponent. In a presentation to a CGAI conference on defence procurement in the new Parliament in late November, he greeted the DPC decision with a “hallelujah,” pointing to the high cost created by overlap and duplication when multiple ministers are involved in a military acquisition decision, and the tendency to play the “blame game” when delays or problems arise and there is no single point of accountability. But he cautioned that the initiative would falter without better system-wide performance measures on cost, schedules and other metrics. “If you don’t monitor and put public pressure on the system, things will [slide],” he said. Williams also called for a defence industrial plan, backed by Cabinet approval, to help identify where to invest defence capital, and “a culture that recognizes and demands innovative creativity, taking chances.” Other former senior civil servants, many with decades of experience in public sector organizational reform, were less optimistic about the prospects of a new agency or departmental corporation. “There is always a good reason why things are the way they are,” said Jim Mitchell, a research associate with the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa and part of massive reorganization of government departments undertaken by Prime Minister Kim Campbell during her brief tenure in 1993. “If you want to change things, you first have to understand, why do we have the current situation that we have in defence procurement and who are the people who have a major stake in the status quo and why? If you don’t understand that, you are going to get into big trouble,” he warned the CGAI audience of government and industry leaders. At a time when the departments are moving a record number of equipment projects, including CF-188 Hornet replacement, through the acquisition process under the government’s 2017 defence policy, any restructuring could significantly delay progress. “Organizational change is always disruptive, it’s costly, it’s difficult, it’s hard on people, it hurts efficiency and effectiveness of organizations for a couple of years at minimum,” said Mitchell. “It is something you do very, very carefully.” It’s a point not lost on CADSI. “The sheer scale of the change required to make DPC real should give companies pause. It could involve some 4,000-6,000 government employees from at least three departments and multiple pieces of legislation, all while the government is in the middle of the most aggressive defence spending spree in a generation,” the association wrote in an email to members in December. A vocal proponent of improving procurement, it called DPC “a leap of faith,” suggesting it might be “a gamble that years of disruption will be worth it and that the outcomes of a new system will produce measurably better results, including for industry.” Gavin Liddy, a former assistant deputy minister with PSPC, questioned the reasoning for change when measures from earlier procurement reform efforts such as increased DND contracting authority up to $5 million are still taking effect. “You really need an extraordinarily compelling reason to make any kind of organizational change. And every time we have attempted it … it takes five to seven years before the organization is up and standing on its feet,” he told CGAI. “If you want to do one single thing to delay the defence procurement agenda…create a defence procurement agency. Nothing would divert attention more than doing that.” While few questioned the need for enhancements to the defence procurement process, many of the CGAI participants raised doubts about the logic of introducing a new entity less than three years into the government’s 20-year strategy. Thomas described a number of improvements to project management and governance that are already making a difference. “The budgeting and project management in defence is really extraordinarily well done. If I am told by ADM Mat they are going to spend $5.2 billion, then that is what they spend. And we have the ability to bring more down, or less, depending on how projects are rolling,” she explained. “We are completely transparent about how we are getting money spent, what the milestones are on projects … The program management board is functioning differently and pulling things forward instead of waiting until somebody is ready to push it forward.” “And we are working with PSPC. I think it is time to look at the government contracting [regulations], how much we compete, what we sole source, the reasons we sole source. I think there is a lot of work there that can be done that will improve the system even more.” https://www.skiesmag.com/news/new-defence-procurement-agency-would-be-disruptive-costly

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