Engineers in russia Cannot Decide if Their 6th Gen Aircraft Should be Unmanned or Piloted

Illustrative photo: Su-57 multirole fighter / Open source photo
Illustrative photo: Su-57 multirole fighter / Open source photo

russians are hyped up about creating a "6th generation fighter" even though they struggle in making a prototype of 5th-gen Su-75 Checkmate

The russian United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) spokesperson said no decision yet on whether the sixth generation of fighter aircraft in russia will be developed as unmanned systems or classic piloted.

The issue has been discussed for a long time, said UAC deputy director Sergey Korotkov, quoted by russian media. Two years ago, representatives from the military and various institutes gathered to decide if they should work toward a drone platform. He claimed that "in the global aircraft community as well" the question is still lingering.

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Illustrative photo: Su-57 multirole fighter / Open source photo

In fact, Defense Express notes, the global trend nowadays is to design next-gen aircraft considering both options, implemented in a piloted and an uncrewed versions of the same aircraft.

In his discussion on sixth-generation aircraft, Korotkov doesn't introduce groundbreaking concepts. Instead, he emphasizes integration with other attack systems, operating within a unified reconnaissance data exchange system with UAVs (similar to the US Loyal Wingman program), and collaboration with other aircraft. The focus lies on enhancing specifications, adapting to various combat management and fire control systems, ensuring stealth operations, survivability, maneuverability, and multi-functionality.

Interestingly, UAC chief Yury Slyusar previously positioned none other than the Su-57 as a step towards the sixth generation, suggesting it could serve as the foundation for the entire family of next-gen aircraft.

This assertion raises eyebrows as the Su-57, despite being marketed as fifth-generation, technically falls under the 4++ generation. The conceptual leap across generations seems perplexing.

Furthermore, the discussion overlooks the "advanced" Su-75 aircraft, which should have been the missing link between 4++ and 6th generations and the basis for further developments.

Su-75 Checkmate (non-operational) at a military expo in russia
Su-75 Checkmate (dummy) at a military expo in russia / Open source photo

Especially since there were considerations for an unmanned version of Checkmate in addition to its manned counterpart. Yet Su-75 seems to fall through the cracks in the discussion of the 6th generation of fighters in russia. Probably because the first prototype of this aircraft will be produced no sooner than 2025.

Earlier, Defense Express covered what problems the Su-75 Checkmate project has encountered along the way and why it sparks no interest in the world defense market.

Read more: With First Su-75 Checkmate Ready No Sooner Than 2025, russians Admit Their Next-Gen Fighter Sparks No Interest on the Market