Recent advance of Russian or Chinese jet fighter give tension the western world jet fighter industry.
After collapse of the Soviet Union, German Luftwaffe took long sleep except Eurofighter business, and had weaken for several decades. Now, awakened Russian Air Force gave reason for new jet fighter development.
New Vids and Pics shows a plan of Airbus which want to develop new jet fighter for EU, and this concept seems mix of Pak-Fa and F-16XL.
Vids typically represents combination of 'Low Observerability', 'Capability of Data Network', 'Co-operation w/ Unmanned Aircraft', and 'Advanced Sensors'. Themselves are not fresh, and similar to 5 or 6th Gen. Fighters of US. But I want to get few noticeable things as many as possible.
Maybe noticeable for this vids are (except familiar things...)
1. Lack of HT and TVC (not certain)
- There is no emphasis on Air-Air Combat or Manuever; OML of the concept seem to be optimized for high speed cruise and LO performance, like YF-23 did (wing-planform is more similar to F-16XL).
- Control surface on the LE like Pak-Fa probably provides least maneuverability for this fighter; this wing-planform and layout of control surface is not for sustained fight, but for instantaneous fight.
2. No emphasis on weapon delivery or 'killer role' of the fighter
- It seems to have at least more than one internal weapon bay (from vids, only one central bay and no-side bays). But vids did not show anything related to it. Vids gave strength on Network capability; providing information, penetration of enemy air-area. Finalizing information and delivering weapon for destruction are probably done by unmanned or cruise missiles.
- not like US' way, Airbus want this fighter to do lead 'Hunt', not 'Kill'. This aircraft seems to have two crew members; it means secondary crew focuses on gathering information and commanding other friendly asset to lead missions.
- If this assumption is true, internal weapon bay or bays are not big enough to contain 'expensive weapons', like NSM, Taurus, Storm-shadow, JASSM. Maybe, Airbus thought minimizing weapon bay could save cost of this fighter. Weapon bay of the fighter probably load relatively light weapons, Meteor, self-defense IRIS-T, or Advanced or replacement version of AGM-88s.
3. Very Large Wing Planform for Long-Time Endurance?
- While it has larger wing planform than similar-size-jet, it only emphasize on 'ISR', 'Leading Friendly Asset'. There is nothing about 'Super-cruise', 'Delivering Silver Bullet on enemy's heart', 'Dramatic Air Combat'.
- Fancy high speed, weapon bay, high-thrust engine, and TVC things cost money and weight of the platform. Maybe if saved weight is changed to fuel and combined with fuel-economy engine, it could achieve extremely long range and endurance than its counter-part.
- From estimation of position of components (weapon bay, LD), extremely large LERX, and nose-cone shape, it probably highly unstable and could achieve low trim drag and high L/D for its mission.
Conclusion of Estimation
- 5 or 6th gen. fighter cannot be cheap, but this concept decisively give up few fancy things escalating cost, and try to save cost and number of required fighters. Few roles, delivering weapon, air-combat, should be done by other conventional jets.
- In given cost, it focuses on 'Endurance', 'ISR', 'Commanding' role in danger area.
- If this concept is right, Airbus targets a small number of production in reasonable cost.
** If this project follows trajectory of Tornado or Eurofighter, development process will be sluggish, and not effective. But I do not hope so that way...