On the presence or absence of a pilot in the cockpit of the sixth-generation aircraft no decision yet

© Sergei Alexandrov / Concept of the 6th generation fighter aircraft, 2016. Archive photo

Whether the sixth generation of fighter jets will be unmanned or manned remains open for now, a consensus on this issue has not yet been reached either in Russia or in the global aviation community. This was stated by Sergey Korotkov, General Designer – Deputy Director General of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), speaking at the plenary session of the Moscow Aviation Week (Aerospace Science Week) at the MAI on 22 November.

He said that a round table was held at the Army-2021 forum, which was attended by representatives of the military, aviation institutes, as well as specialists from the MAI and the United Aircraft Corporation. However, despite the discussions, no decision has been made. “So there is some discussion going on, which today has not ended in anything yet. We are at that turning point,” Sergey Korotkov emphasised.

One of the key aspects of the development of the sixth generation of fighter jets is integration with both ground and air defence systems. According to Korotkov, the new combat aircraft will interact with other technologies to create a unified system. However, this represents a complex stage of development, requiring additional effort and resources.

The next important direction in the development of aircraft is to improve flight performance, adaptation to other combat control and defeat systems, high manoeuvrability, multifunctionality, optimal piloting and multi-mode use of the propulsion system. These factors will be important criteria in the development of next-generation aircraft systems.

In addition, Sergey Korotkov noted that the sixth generation of fighters will actively use unmanned systems to perform reconnaissance missions. This will increase the efficiency and accuracy of reconnaissance, as well as reduce the risk for pilots. “The main criterion for the next-generation complex is actually a trade-off between operational and tactical capabilities and, as I said, life-cycle cost. Even if we make the best aircraft, but it costs infinitely more, it will turn out to be an inefficient decision-making,” he added.