In the last few years, several countries have seemingly committed themselves to developing a new sixth-generation of manned jet fighters to succeed today’s fifth-generation stealth fighters, like the F-35 Lightning and the Chinese J-20.
Russia and Japan are interested in interceptors, such as Japan’s Mitsubishi F-3 and Russia’s MiG-41. In Europe, the interest is in a multi-role fighter—notably France and Germany’s Next-Generation Fighter, part of a broader Future Combat Air System (FCAS), and the UK’s Tempest project. These will theoretically enter service in the late 2030s or 2040s.
For years, the U.S. Air Force’s foremost concept for its Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) platform was the Penetrating Counter-Air—a long-range escort fighter designed primarily to accompany and protect its forthcoming B-21 stealth bombers into hostile airspace.
Meanwhile, the Navy solicited concepts for the FA-XX-likely to optimized as fleet defense interceptor, given the more strike-oriented characteristics of its F-35C stealth fighters.
Early in 2019, Chinese media claimed domestic aviation firms were investigating the development of a sixth-generation fighter too.