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Old 09-25-2020, 10:12 PM
RN7 RN7 is offline
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Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
As someone who was a huge Top Gun fan as a kid, and daydreamed about dogfighting Soviet MiGs in my imaginary F-16 Fighting Falcon, this pains me to say, but I think our next air superiority fighter should be 100% unmanned. I favor a remotely-piloted option w/ AI assist over a purely autonomous fighter. Recently, an AI kicked a human pilot's butt in simulated air-to-air combat. It wasn't a fluke either.

An unmanned aircraft can sustain more G's than the human body can handle, making it more maneuverable. AI makes decisions quicker and implements them faster than a human can. As the tech matures, it will also more consistently make better decisions than a human would.

I fear the days of the piloted combat aircraft will very soon be behind us. If we're not at the leading edge of emerging aerospace tech, we'll get left in the dust by the Chinese.


Although I would agree with the advantages of an AI over human pilots to a degree, in my mind the fact that an AI is electronic would point to a flaw that could be exploited. Cyber-warfare software has advanced at an incredible rate since 1990, some cyber programmes used by the NSA for example can actually take over a computer or a machine even if its not connected to anything. If the F-X is unmanned and flown by an AI it is certain that countries like Russia and China will try and find a way of compromising it by any means. But certainly developing an aircraft that can fly both unmanned or with a pilot is likely.

What type of aircraft will the F-X actually be?

Its hard to exactly say but I doubt it will be of the classic F-16 dog fighter variety. More likely it will be a larger multi-role aircraft like an F-15 for BVR air combat. Fast and long ranged with a heavier weapons load than either an F-22 or F-35. The fact that a prototype is already flying means the engine unit has already been chosen, while the USAF seem to know exactly what type of airframe they want. I would be certain it will be a twin engine fighter like the F-22, and it will be capable of flying in the high Mach 2 range. If it also has an unmanned capability then I think its possible it could easily exceed Mach 3.

I could see some of the stealth technology of the B-21 Raider being incorporated into the F-X, along with any advances in radar, sensor and missile technology that will be developed in the 2020's. Escorting a B-21 may also be one of priority missions. If for example the B-21 were to be used against a target in Russia or China, or a country under their protection, an aircraft like the F-X would be necessary to eliminate enemy aircraft and land based SAM and radars.

It may be the late 2020's or even early 2030's before this fighter/strike fighter enters frontline service, but the fact that a prototype (or three) is already flying I would say is causing shockwaves in Russia, China and some of the bogey states like Iran and North Korea. Russia cant even get its 5th Generation Su-57 in frontline service after a decade, while China needs Russian engines for all of its fighters to even fly.

Basically over the next decade a squadron of F-X fighters could appear in anyone's airspace without them even knowing about it, and when they do know its up their it will overwhelm and swamp their fighter and ground based air defence network and leave them wide open to an air strike by a B-21.
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