What should I spy while wandering around the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space show at Washington's National Harbor this morning but this...
It's Boeing's latest artist's conception of the U.S. Navy's proposed F/A-XX replacement for the F/A-18E/F, notionally needed on carrier decks around 2025. It's described as '6th generation', but quite what that means I'm not sure - expect that it's tailless for all-aspect broadband stealth, like that other F/A-XX candidate, Northrop Grumman's N-UCAS.
I'm also not sure whether it owes more to Boeing's Phantom Works advanced designers or the graphic artists of Hollywood, particularly those that worked on the movie Stealth. But it looks more'like a 6th-gen fighter'than earlier impressions from Boeing.
Meanwhile don't hold your breath. The Navy is still in the early days of evaluating its requirements for an F/A-18E/F replacement. It's planning to fly the X-47B UCAS demonstrator from a carrier around 2011, and that will do a lot to shape its thinking about whether the next naval strike aircraft should be manned or unmanned, or both."