The F-36 Kingsnake: the ‘fifth-generation-minus’ fighter USAF wants

The F-35 is a Ferrari, the F-22 a Bugatti Chiron  – the United States Air Force needs a Nissan 300ZX. Both the F-35 and F-22 have higher levels of technology than USAF requires for the vast majority of its everyday tasks. They are very difficult and costly to maintain, operate and upgrade. What is needed according to the USAF’s Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown Jr is an affordable, lightweight fighter to replace the F-16. It must be faster to develop and upgrade than the F-35 and need not feature such exquisite technologies. The only way to escape the exceptionally slow and expensive development process is to obey the following:

  1. A very fast project definition process. A sensible low-risk hard- and software solution is chosen and frozen within a year. Regular software updates are planned. A 1-year PD phase seems almost impossible if there were to be competition between L-M and Boeing. Single-sourcing without a contest would be necessary. The acquisition approach is likely to be a Government-directed prime contractor and engine supplier (P&W, on the grounds that the F-119 will be put back into production through this programme). Then a Skunk Works-like programme against a well defined, but small, set of mandatory requirements, with freedom given to the main contractor to choose sub-contractors. The Government will specify the weapons fit, digital interfaces for datalinks and weapons, all other sub-contractors to be selected by prime. The contract will be incentivised for rapid delivery, with stage payments for demonstration of successful integration of specific sensors and weapons systems. This approach should meet USAF objectives for timeliness, while ensuring a reasonable sharing of risk between Government and Industry. (If the PD phase is competed, you would need Boeing, L-M and N-G, and perhaps add at least a year to your schedule. But you might get a better price. One possibility is borrowing from old UK procurement policy: No Acceptable Price, No Contract, and deal with L-M, or have a 2-year competitive PD phase, with a model-based down-select to award a Prime Contractor.)

2. Move fast enough to minimise pork-barrelling. Bypass politicising the project through the removal of competitive element – all primary components sources decided at a very early stage unilaterally (and the same with secondary sources in the case of serious issues with primary contractors). As an alternative solution, 3D printing away from conventional factories could partly solve the pork barrelling issue.

3. A ‘Luddite Czar’ is appointed to block the addition of any new technologies, roles or excess weight increases during development. Personality required: exceptionally strong-willed, non-careerist disagreeable individual with high technical knowledge.

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Requirements creep is the enemy.

4. The smallest lowest tech production line possible is used. Plans are made for rapid expansion if large export orders are received.

5. Existing technologies used for engines, sensors and materials. Existing components are further simplified where possible.

6. A lower density design with surplus volume, surplus electrical generation. Minimum onboard computer intelligence and maximum data-linking. Remote mentoring as phase 2 enhancement once the technology is mature.

7. A simple fuselage shape with surplus volume that could potentially accommodate a game-changing advance in propulsion technology

8. Less emphasis on low radar signature than F-35 and F-22.

9. 3D printing used to maximum effect. Additive manufacturing. The application of 3D aerodynamic modelling to blended shapes.

10. Accelerated multiple prototype/test aircraft project concentrates on reliability and upgradability. Large test fleet is kept throughout aircraft’s left to robustly test updates.

We wondered what might a notional ‘F-36’* look like? I enlisted the help of Stephen Mcparlin who spent 22 years at RAE/DRA/DERA/QinetiQ at Farnborough, using low speed, transonic and supersonic wind tunnels, while evolving and validating aerodynamic design methodologies for mostly military aircraft and James Smith, who had significant technical roles in the development of the UK’s leading military aviation programmes from ASRAAM and Nimrod, to the JSF and Eurofighter Typhoon, and the illustrator Andy Godfrey from the Teasel Studio to provide a visual representation.

*Jumping back to into the vacant F-20s designations seems retrograde and would involve solving the riddle of the YF-24

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This is a new aircraft. What is the primary requirement? What we have come up with is a long range, supersonic, manoeuvrable BVR and WVR fighter. Of course, later in its life it will become an overweight bomb trucks, festooned with stuff, just like the F-16, but let’s not draw it in middle age just yet.

The design

The wing is based on that of the F-16XL. The cranked arrow has an inboard section of increased sweepback, creating a controlled high-lift vortex without the need for a foreplane. The wing is efficient at high speeds aiding in creating a faster fighter than the F-35. The F-35’s slowness is a disadvantage for the beyond-visual range mission. The wing also allows ample room for fuel (we can expect a higher full fraction for the whole aircraft than the F-22) and external hardpoints (one notable issue that requires long range is the likely ability of supercruising Chinese J-20s to outrange F-22s). The wing loading is lower than the F-35 for most given configurations. Rather than emphasising an extremely high speed that is rarely met (as the case with F-14 and F-15 etc) the F-36 is very comfortable achieving speeds in the mach 1.8-2 range, rather like the European Typhoon. The F-36 is designed for unreheated supersonic performance at M = 1.4 , using reheat for acceleration up to M = 2.0 .

On agility, the big wing will give great instantaneous turn rate, and energy manoeuvrability should be well up there with low wave drag and good T/W. As primary design is for BVR ,sustained turn performance is less important. Internal weapons are carried in intake trunking weapons bays, curving into the lower wing fillets. Likely weapons would include new generation long range air-to-air missiles.

F-36 mugs, t-shirts and much more available at our online shop

Engines considered included the F-15EX’s F110-GE-129 which would offer commonality but lack sufficient thrust or the F135 of the F-35 which is suffering technical issues. The chosen powerplant is a simplified version of F119 of the F-22. Returning the engine to production would also benefit the F-22 Raptor force. It is estimated returning the engine to production would take 3.5 years meaning early test aircraft would need to borrow from the Raptor. The F110-GE-129 is a lower risk option. Unlike the F-22 , the F-36 does not have thrust vector control. The F119 production re-start would be expensive however and an uprated F110 and or improved F135 should not be ruled out.

Sensors

The primary sensor is the AN/APG-83 AESA and an IRST based on the LEGION POD.

Cockpit

The F-35’s cockpit concept was probably a little ahead of the state-of-the-art in some aspects. It has been criticised by pilots for its absent HUD and the lack of feel and unreliability of inputted commands relating to the touchscreen-centric approach. The F-36 cockpit will address both issues and will feature a widescreen HUD in conjunction with a Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), a cheaper option than the F-35 helmet system.

Gun

With modern infra-red missiles almost guaranteeing a kill before fighters reach the merge a gun may seem an archaic inclusion and certainly Stephen McParlin was sceptical of whether one was needed. There are several reasons that the F-36 has a gun. The first is political: gunless fighters have a bad reputation, the second is practical: any F-16 replacement is likely to end up performing the Close Air Support mission. The weapon is the M61 Vulcan mounted in the starboard wingroot. It is not ideal to use supersonic optimised fighters for CAS and ideally the F-36 would be complemented by new or existing subsonic aircraft better suited to the mission.

We showed our speculative design to Bill Sweetman who commented “I think Harry Hillaker would have approved”.

 

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The Hush-Kit Book of Warplanes will feature the finest cuts from Hush-Kit along with exclusive new articles, explosive photography and gorgeous bespoke illustrations. Pre-order The Hush-Kit Book of Warplanes here.

65 comments

  1. Matthew G. Saroff

    No, for a number of reasons:

    With a 35,000+ lb thrust engine, the proposed aircraft is not remotely lightweight, and purchase and operational cost go up with weight.
    Lockheed is a bad choice because it cements them in their monopoly, and because the experience on the F-35 shows that Lockheed’s primary objective is to lock users into paying for its services.
    The existing requirements for low intensity conflict could be met with existing trainer designs, the Korean T-50, the Boeing/Saab T7, the Macchi M-346, the Taiwanese AIDC T-5, and the actual fighter the JAS-39E Gripen will all be far cheaper, particularly over their lifetime.

    • Clifford Nelson

      The F-22 engine was originally 30,000 thrust, so you could reduce thrust back to original if you really wanted too. But you obviously do not realize that the latest version of the F100 is 29,160 pounds-force (129.7 kN) with afterburner. Not much different. So much for your first argument, Also realize that this plane is going to be bigger than the F-16 since it is basically an F-16 that will have to be lengthened for the crank arrow wing.

      2nd argument: there is an big advantage with LM. This is very similar to the F-16 and even more similar to the crank arrow F-16XL, which I think should have been selected over the mundane new F-15, especially since it is aerodynamically much advanced over a basic rehashed. There was a lot of research done with the F-16XL that could probably make this aircraft even better, and LM has the experience. Much of the fuselage appears similar to the F-16, and that could have significant similarities, making a some of the technology easily transferable to older aircraft.

      It is pretty much beyond the realm of possibility that they would ever consider a trainer. Would do ok for ground attack, but it is very limited beyond that. Historically trainers have only been converted to light ground attack….that is all. They just do not have the good a performance and payload. After all they are really only intended to carry a small crew, That is it.
      The angled twin tail should significantly reduce radar cross section, and the crank arrow wing should provide some great aerodynamic benefits over the Tornado or Gripen which are more modern designs than the F-16 or F-17, but not that much newer.

      • A'rhEngel

        Yeah but the design of the F-16XL was done by General Dynamics, which also did the aerodynamic design of the F-22. After General Dynamics sold their military aircraft business, I have not seen anything remotely innovative coming out of Lockheed. Frankly I very much doubt that they have both the know-how and the an willingness to risk bring back and modifying an old prototype. Their post F-104 design streak is basically rehashed General Dynamics designs: F-35 is basically an fat F-22, KAI T-50, air-frame designed by Boeing, is basically an small F-16 C/D with side intakes, and the latest Korean KF-21, designed with Lockheed Martin inputs, is basically a smaller F-22 (not including F-22 which had it’s air-frame designed by General Dynamics). All this suggest extreme risk aversion in Lockheed Martin design offices.

        Also Cranked arrow is inferior in performance to closed Coupled Canard Delta wing as in Saab JAS-39 Gripen and Dassault Rafale, that is why Saab moved away from cranked arrow on the J-35 Draken, to Close Coupled Canard Delta wing on the J-37 Viggen and JAS-39 Gripen. If you look at the planform of the Draken it’s basically the same as F-16XL. The US was behind Sweeden by about 27 years on this (Draken first flight 1955, F-16XL first flight 1982), and lets not even get started on how far behind the US is, compared to Europe, when it comes to Close Coupled Canard.

        Cranked arrow is superior in performance to long arm canard delta wing as in the Eurofighter Typhoon. In fact canard on Typhoon offers very little advantages, they might as well have dropped it. Typhoon is a compromised design because the Brits decided to play nice guys and let the Germans do the air-frame design, instead of imposing the much Higher Performance BAe EAP.

        The angled twin tail also offers increased increased control authority at high Angles-of-Attack which I think is a much more valuable characteristic then increased stealth in an aircraft specifically not designed for stealth.

      • James S Smith

        Back in the distant past, I was specialist adviser to UK Typhoon project team on weight and performance, and later on, wrote the Mass and Performance chapters of the MoD Chief Scientist’s audit of the Typhoon program. In the course of that work, and other work as Research coordinator for the UK Air Superiority and Anti-Air weapons program, and later Science lead for the Control and Denial of Theatre Airspace program, I am very familiar with the three Euro-canard fighters you mention, Typhoon, Rafale and Gripen. Each is excellent at what they are designed to do, and each is designed to excel in slightly different areas.
        Typhoon is targeted at Beyond Visual Range air combat, and, to that end, high supersonic performance. The canard and wing are optimised for low supersonic wave drag, and the aircraft can out-perform all other competitors in supersonic energy manoeuvrability, which is important in the engage – disengage – re-energise – re-engage cycle of BVR combat. The manoeuvre performance of the aircraft is aided by an excellent flight control system, which delivers 35% instability and carefree handling throughout the flight envelope.
        Rafale has very similar performance to Typhoon, but is more optimised to multi-role missions, with a greater number of hardpoints and greater flexibility with 5 rather than 3 fuel tank stations available. It is also available in a carrier capable version. Both aircraft carry very capable long-range weapons, particularly the Meteor, and fast and agile IR weapons in ASRAAM and IRIS-T. The French refer to Rafale as an Omni-role platform.
        Gripen is a smaller single-engine aircraft, and in its latest version has great connectivity and sensors, and also has the Meteor missile. It is a small, agile and very capable package. I have previously commented that Gripen would be an outstanding choice for a relatively small Nation looking to defend and deter, rather than to achieve global dominance.
        Were the US looking for a homeland Defence fighter with zero development risk, Gripen would be a great choice, but I suggest would have small to nil chance of being procured, due to US focus on its global aspirations, and the protection of its Defence Industry capability.
        Typhoon and Rafale are excellent at what they do, but with Kingsnake, we were looking to propose a low-risk aircraft with substantial range and combat persistence, which is where the large fuselage and wing volume of the configuration comes in, while also having low supersonic wave drag. These characteristics will assist in providing the geographic coverage and rapid response which would be needed as an air defence fighter supplementing the F-15EX and F-22. The configuration is also well suited to development and eventual use as a strike platform, as demonstrated by the F-16XL.

  2. Hal

    I think the future is unmanned fighters (glorified wingman types) led by not another manned fighter but a command aircaft.. some of the manned fighters have gone well above the ‘optimum’ fighter envelopes.

  3. Duker

    Some things dont seem right. For a single engine plane why put your 2 tail surface out on the wing, when one on the fuselage will do , as the F16 does. The Russian Su-57 Felon has its tails widely separated but thats with widely separated dual engines. The other reason for tail fins on wings is like the Vought F7U Cutlass which was to reduce overall length, important for a carrier fighter back then. Finally I cant see the USAF going for any sort of delta wing for a fighter and this is just a recycle of the F16XL which was a strike fighter for low level bomb dropping. A long way from the mission outlined

    • MicMada

      The Tornado F3 was limited in AOA because its single large tail was getting in the vortices and flopping around.

      • Clifford Nelson

        I think one of the biggest reasons is to reduce radar cross section. A single tail could not be slanted very well, and particularly a delta wing aircraft it will create a great radar trap that will do a great job of reflecting radar back.

      • Duker

        Tornado F3 had a lot of limitations because its design began as bomber. The newer Typhoon design shows if you start as a fighter design you can get everything else right ……and its tail ? A single large one. ( and its a delta form like this one)
        The reason for putting the vertical tail out on the wing was only done once ( twice if you count the SR71) indicates even Vought never did it that way again

    • Clifford Nelson

      One advantage of having twin vertical stabilizers is that the location of vertical tails helps in having control authority at high alpha (where the fuselage/wing can blank a single vertical stabilizer). In modern stealth aircraft, having a twin tail enables them to be canted, helping in reducing RCS. Seems like the right choice

  4. scottfw

    This would seem to me to be one answer to why not have the vertical stab on the fuselage, “7. A simple fuselage shape with surplus volume that could potentially accommodate a game-changing advance in propulsion technology” – if you need to remodel the aft fuselage for that different propulsion package you will not be spending much of any engineering manhours to redo the vertical stab mounting.

    • James Smith

      On twin fins mounted on the wings: With the slender configuration, and intent to be manoeuvrable at high speeds, a significant fin area is required. Using a single fuselage mounted fin would just generate far too high a side- on signature, as well as forming a corner reflector with the wing. Placing the two fins on the fuselage would be likely to lead to fin blanketing at high incidence and probable structural interaction with inboard vortices. Hence the wing-mounted fins.

      And, as an uber-cool design studio, we were going for the ‘Hyper-Cutlass’ look anyway.

      On choice of propulsion system: The additional thrust of the F119 looked to me like a good investment noting that the future growth path would inevitable lead to higher weights, and additional payload for additional strike capability.

      On source selection: In the real world of Defence procurement, to gain the consensus and evidence needed for approval, it would probably be necessary to run at least a competitive concept definition activity, not least to develop actionable cost estimates for the program. This might then be followed by a competitive prototyping activity. However, the suggestions we have made are directed at short-circuiting the process by, as far as possible, making use of existing concepts and technologies. I would stand by those suggestions if you want to do product definition and design freeze in a year, noting that measures to contain costs and incentivise project outcomes would also be required.

      On the need for a new design: A new design is, of course unnecessary. Were the US to follow Brazil and set up a production line for a Gripen E, they could easily have very low risk access to most of the capability required. A similar approach might be explored with other current combat aircraft manufacturers for licensed production of Rafale or Typhoon. However, given the low probability of this being an acceptable political or industrial solution, we came up with the Kingsnake to provoke debate, which it certainly seems to be doing.

      On the future being unmanned: No dispute here. But we are discussing a low risk, short-order capability supplement here, not the stealthy, unmanned, high-risk, high-cost adjunct to the US Gen 6 fighter concept.

      • scottfw

        “… we came up with the Kingsnake to provoke debate,” – yeah, snakes do kinda tend to provoke things!
        “… which it certainly seems to be doing.”” – looks like mission accomplished, at least from what I see!

        p.s., Gripen sure is a neat little airplane.

  5. Brian

    Matthew
    Agree with all your points.
    LM is not the one to build anything economical.
    The Air Force can not specify anything economical either. The Air Force has a history of gold plating every project they get involved with. They want a big engine, big swept wings & Supercruise, all makes this less economical. But its all relative – anything will be more economical than a F35.

    With the future belonging to UAV type vehicles any effort building a better F16 may be wasted.
    The future UAV market will inherently be more economical because there are more players in the game besides Boeing, LM & Northrop. Just make sure the big 3 don’t buy up the little guys.

    The cheapest alternative is to build a F16 with minimal changes but in competition with Boeing/SaabT7.
    Competition between the F15ex & F16, yes I know they are incomparable. Say the government sets out a tender for how many aircraft the Boeing & LM can build for X amount of dollars, for say a 5 year contract. This then makes it in the contractors interest to lowering the unit price. Winner get 2/3 of the order, loser gets 1/3. New supply contract in 5 years.

      • Clifford Nelson

        But there was a lot of work with NASA in this millennium on the design, and a lot of the rest of the design comes from the F-16, and LM has the tooling to do it. Another manufacturer would have to create the tooling. And LM also has tooling for crank wing production.

  6. as

    To me (as seen from my position of relative ignorance) this seems like a fairly appealing initial design, not too dissimilar in its outlines to what I first envisioned after learning of Staff Gen. Brown’s comments. Haven’t found a good enough excuse to try and bring my own ideas to any kind of physical being yet and suspect other enthusiasts’ efforts – and eventually actual USAF developments – will further diminish my rationale to do so. As far as flights of fancy go, this “Gen 5 simplified” thing does seem to hit something of a sweet spot, a relatively easily approachable standalone design challenge.

  7. koxinga

    The cheapest option is already there; KAI’s KFX. It was designed from the onset as a 4.5 gen / 5 gen – design. The design is done and the first prototypes will be flying within months. The only issue whether US will want to license a foreign design, which is extremely unlikely.

    • Clifford Nelson

      As far as I can tell there is not even a plan as to when the prototype will fly. It appears to have had lots of problems.

      • koxinga

        The first prototype has been assembled with another six in various states. First flight is expected later half of the year. These are all well documented in various journals and as far as I am aware, there I’ve not heard of “a lot of problems”. What’s the basis of your unsubstantiated claims?

        Regardless of those claims, it is a program that has reached a hardware stage. That’s a whole lot further down the road than some paper concepts.

      • Jimmy

        I agree with Koxinga. KAI’s KFX might have a chance because its basically a Lockheed’s offspring with KAI. But, because it’s a “foreign” design, I doubt they’ll buy it, as testified with KAI’s T-50 Golden Eagle. The USAF would rather buy an unproven design from Boeing than buying a trainer that exists and has proven it’s worth as both a light fighter and a supersonic trainer. If the KFX is as good and reliable as the T-50, the USAF will be wasting money and time again…

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  17. Marc

    Great idea! Only Concern was the use of the F-119 engine for the F-22. I would recommend using the F-135 engine by P&W instead, as the illustration’s engine design by Stephen Mcparlin also seems inspired by the F-135, as that engine’s nozzle is rounded, vs. the square design that was specifically used for the F-119 on the F-22.

    Furthermore, the F-35’s F-135 from P&W is the direct descendent of the F-119 engine, is in production today, and would not require restarting of any line. If the focus is on speedy preliminary design/review to low rate initial production, use the engines they have now as they are what’s being produced, more powerful, and specifically designed for easier maintainability and shape.

    • as

      As to the available engines, there might be a dearth of really obvious options for this kind of an application. Perhaps that’s why Hush-Kit’s design group is explicit about a later re-engining possibility. I have no idea how easy or hard it would be to scale up F-119 production again, presumably spare parts are still manufactured and much of the original institutional knowledge remains. Being somewhat cautious I suspect that removing thrust vectoring could prove more of a hassle than just retaining it, as far as the engine itself goes.

      Looking at F-135 holistically, apart from what might still be referred to as technological teething troubles, production capacity has been reported as lagging behind projections. These problems may have been solved already but at this point who knows, really. In any case, sharing a limited supply with a (somewhat) competing fighter project seems like a risky proposition. All these considerations aside my probably-to-perpetually-remain-nascent design would have been/will be fashioned around a somewhat “detuned” and thus hopefully more economical F-135 anyway, perhaps produced under license. Whether that’s more realistic than cranking out a bunch of new F-119’s, I can’t even begin to surmise.

      About possible re-engining later on, I’m somewhat dubious about that. This project, if it comes to be, will fill a pretty specific niche also temporally. That’s an opportunity to design for a whole life cycle of an entire system and avoid adding one more legacy project to constantly weigh against other potential capabilities later on. Settling for only minor necessary tweaks perhaps enables a more focused optimization.

      On a wider perspective, there’s potential for international co-operation here, whereas Hush Kit’s design group – to me at least – has produced a design for a very “American” jet in every sense. Nothing wrong with that but there’s a chance that Gen. Brown has been specifically inspired by Boeing/SAAB’s T-7 experience and that could be built on (not the airframe itself, but a similar “let’s mix it up a bit and team up” approach), not only in terms of technology but strategy and alliances as well.

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  19. Ricky Kurniawan

    Looks like adding eighth type of fighters to the inventory will cause some concern to logistics. This latest addition to the fighter inventory should be focused in replacing the entire F-16 fleet for ANG duties. Focus the F-15C/E/EX and F-35 to expeditionary duties, and fill ANG squadron with F-22 and F-36 or whatever they may call it.

    • Clifford Nelson

      Really…seems like this one is an update of the F-16, so a lot of commonality. The F-22 is not significant in numbers (I think there are only like 135 that will ever be mission ready), so it will be the logistics nightmare, especially since it is so heavily stealth which requires more logistics and maintenance, like the F-35.. F-35 really is only good as a penetration bombe, not much of a fighter, and too expensive for most bombing missions. You really do not want to use it for anything that you would not have used an F-117 for since it is basically the same.

      • Ricky Kurniawan

        This will be a clean-sheet design, any commonality I could imagine are sensors and avionics. You’re right about the complex nature of the F-22, so it will be better to serve as homeland defender in ANG squadrons. Moreover the F-22 is not too good on vast theatre operations like the Pacific due to its limited combat radius. Also, because of the reason you said yourself, the F-35 indeed is good as a deep strike aircraft, then it will do its job better outside the American soil (hence the expeditionary duties), delivering bombs and precision munitions deep behind enemy lines.

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  21. Brian

    A couple points:
    1. All the talk from what General Brown said originally about the F35 being a failure and needing a cheaper budget 5 gen fighter to be able to afford the “sustainment” costs. Then I found this article from a few days later where he was trying to backstep his original statements.

    https://www.defenseone.com/business/2021/02/f-35-still-cornerstone-fighter-top-air-force-general-says/172318/

    Was he really just trying to clarify what what the press misinterpreted? Or was he sorted out by the higher ups to fall into line?

    2. It sure is fun to design a new fighter, but it would be, cost wise better to use the existing F16 with minor upgrades. The money saved on serious mods like the cranked delta wing or all new clean sheet design would be better spent on UAV & PGM. Really this airframe is really just the delivery truck. Keep it simple.

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  23. Michael

    The are two things missing here. One: The F36 should be operational for nonconventional runways. Runways are much more vulnerable than ever before therefore operating off improvised is ever more important. So a single under the fuselage air intake is not a good idea unless it has a bypass for avoiding FOD. It also will need a rugged landing gear and airframe to handle these improvised runways. However it should NOT BE A STOVL design as we all know how that went with the F 35.

    Two: the Navy/Marine, will need a replacement for the legacy /Supper Hornet. They will be need to be involved in it’s development from the start. Why is that? The under carriage/airframe developed for carriers landings can be modified lighter if wanted for everyone else. A good example is the McDonald Douglas F 4 Phantom was a Navy design and the Air Force used as well with no mods to the folding wings and air frame. Actuality some F4s were from the Navy were upgraded to the E variant when the airframe could not be used for Carrier operations any more. The Air Force may not like “hand me downs” but it will help with over all costs in the long term.

    So if the Air Force, Navy, and Marines, want a new affordable maned aircraft they better get their AIG or the next UAV will have theirs.

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  29. Tony M.

    Cool name but snakes never leave the ground & you’d hate that to be the fate of such a cool plane … I’d prefer using the name of an animal that flies.

  30. Pingback: FOTO: Expertos de EE.UU. presentan su propio concepto del futuro caza que podría reemplazar a los veteranos F-16 - ARGENDATA
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  32. AA

    “The year is 2030 and production of Boeing’s F-32A is on track to surpass Lockheed Martin’s beleaguered F-35. Thousands of the Boeing jet are on order for US and allied air forces. Unshackled from the Navy and Marines’ requirements, Boeing’s stripped down fighter crushes its former JSF rival in sales.”

  33. Pingback: The 'Kingsnake' Could Be the Air Force's Next Fighter Jet - Hollywooddo
  34. Pingback: The 'Kingsnake' Could Be the Air Force's Next Fighter Jet - Luxuryfolks
  35. Pingback: F-36 Kingsnake: истребитель «поколения 5-». Поможет ли ВВС США «царь луддитов»? - WebUnions
  36. LetsGo

    Cheapest, quickest, no risk risk option is to build an F-35A WITHOUT stealth. Reduces upfront acquisition cost and long term sustainment cost.

  37. Andrew Lewis

    I designed the F-16XL wing back in 1978-1979, as a young aerodynamicist working out of the General Dynamics Forth Worth (GDFW) F-16 “Advanced Versions” Group – basically the GDFW skunkworks.

    You can see me with the original design team in the photo on the F-16XL wikipedia page. I was very fortunate to work alongside such an electic team who kept me in check, especially Harry Hillaker, the father of the F-16 and founding member of the lightweight fighter mafia with John Boyd (met him too). Harry was an amazing mentor with experience going back to the B-36, B-58.

    It’s very exciting to see the F-16xl wing still relevant after 40 years! If it’s actually being used for the F-36, my guess is it’s a big risk reducer for the customer. With the F-16XL, there is lots of flight test data to provide a predictable outcome for structural loading, stability and control and maneuverability. Wrap those wings around a proven 5th generation engine, use the latest F-16 avionics suite and you get a very, very low-risk high performance fighter development.

    In flight test, the big cranked-arrow wing provided excellent on-the-deck ride quality. It’s a giant fuel tank, so that would help radar cross section (RCS) with no external tanks. My guess is the canted twin vertical tails are for lower RCS. Otherwise, the single vertical had great control authority at high AOA because of the two vortices coming of the wing.
    Originally a technology demonstrator, F-16XL actually competed against the F-15 for the night all-weather attack mission. It was competitive but lost out because USAF wanted to keep the F-15 line in production and they wanted two engines for the mission.

    • as

      Well,

      I kept track of the comments here until it seemed they had stopped coming. Don’t know why I came back but sure am glad I did! Thank you for your insight, Mr. Lewis, every once in a while the internet manages to seem worth a while indeed.

    • Brian

      Andrew Lewis
      Have you written any books or articles on your time at GD? I’m sure the readers here & elsewhere would greatly appreciate anything you care to write about.

  38. James Smith

    Thanks for that wonderful comment, which pretty much encapsulates our thinking in putting this concept together! And congratulations on having produced such a visionary design, and being part of the team taking it through from concept to flight test.

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