Here’s What You Need to Remember: As stealth becomes less of a trump card against savvy opponents, laser or even kinetic hard-kill active-protection systems may, in coming decades, provide a new layer of defense to warplanes that otherwise seemed to be at the mercy of increasingly long-range sensor and anti-aircraft weapons.
While the United States moves towards full-scale of the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning stealth fighters, countries like France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom are looking to skip ahead to an even more advanced sixth-generation.
It’s too soon to identify for sure what the sixth-generation jets will look like, as none exist yet, and they are only planned to enter service starting in the late 2030s and 2040s. However, there are many technologies likely to feature in the sixth generation of aircraft.
Of course, it is the nature of arms races and military industrial complexes to already looking ahead to the next game in town. Thus the Navy and Air Force are already courting concepts from the defense industry on separate sixth-generation successors to the F-35, called the FA-XX and Penetrating Counter Air respectively.