Development of the second and third generation military aircraft was aimed to reach maximal speed but the forth generation did not have such an objective. The fifth generation took the speed factor as a secondary one. The sixth generation military aircraft though can resurrect this factor again.
US Air Force initiated development of new afterburning turbofan with variable working circle in 2009. This engine can provide the speed of 4-5M to the fighter-class military aircraft. At the same time certain fantastic requirements have appeared for that military aircraft to reach near space. The US built several prototypes of hypersonic vehicles flying at a speed of over 5M. X-37 Orbiter unmanned space shuttle can be used as space fighter.
If you have a vision of space fighter diving into the atmosphere and engaging air targets than despite the beauty of such a scene that kind of use of the equipment looks like cannons shooting at sparrows. Conventional fighters can engage such space enemy while it enters the atmosphere. Anti-satellite missile launched from F-15 fighter can intercept low-orbital satellite.
New military aircraft is considered to be equipped with revolutionary weapon systems like lasers and hypersonic kinetic weapons, but US Air Force has been testing the air based laser on board of Boeing-747 failing to reach any substantial results.
It is rather complicated to shoot the fighter down by a laser gun since such military aircraft is quite small in size and highly maneuverable. Laser beam can unlikely hit such a target radiating at it for not less than 12 seconds otherwise it remains undestroyed. “Laser artillery” though has its major shortcomings.
The sixth generation military aircraft should possess advanced stealth technologies to be invisible in whole spectrum of radio and optic waves. Even Americans felt that stealth fighter is an extremely expensive asset and to make it invisible in optical spectrum will cost much more.
“Invisibility” of stealth aircraft will gradually disappear. Deployment of multi-radar net proved the capability to detect stealth-airplanes.
The US Air Force made computer modeling of dogfights between F-22 and the F-15, F-16 fourth generation fighters ended with a score of 144 to 0. In real combat such a result can never be obtained.
How will the sixth generation fighter look like? We should wait till “baptism of fire” of the fifth generation military aircraft providing a clear answer.