Two images shared by a user of the Chinese social network Weibo reverberated in Western forums. They show in a simulator an aircraft with a diamond-shaped wing and fuselage configuration, in what appears to be a 6th generation fighter.
According to the author of the publication, who identifies himself on the network as “The silent goat”, the source of the images is the Chengdu Institute of Aircraft Research and Design. It is an institution managed by the AVIC aerospace group, a state-owned conglomerate that controls all of China’s major aircraft manufacturers, such as COMAC and Chengdu Aircraft.
In the background of the images appears the structure of a flight simulator, where it is still possible to visualize (with a lot of magnification) the AVIC logo. The photographs, therefore, were actually captured at the research center of the Chinese group.
Model captured by satellite
China’s 6th generation fighter project has been known since October 2021, when a model similar in shape to the plane seen in the new images was photographed at Chengdu Aircraft headquarters by US satellites.
Last year, during the Zhuhai Air Show, the Chinese manufacturer exhibited a transparent model of a 6th generation conceptual aircraft. However, there is no information if the two elements are related.
Zhuhai Air Show 🇨🇳
6th Gen Fighter Aircraft Concept
PLAAF Loves Tailless Jet Design pic.twitter.com/hyTPqZlHGT
— David Wang (@Nickatgreat1220) November 6, 2022
For specialist Andreas Rupprecht, a reference in Chinese military aviation, the aircraft seen in the images released on Weibo could be a scale model or even a technology demonstrator.
The fact is that the development of 6th generation fighter jets is already a recurring issue among the great military powers, as is currently the case in Europe and the United States.
Following the 5th generation fighter jets, which took shape in the 1990s with the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, the 6th generation fighter jets should emerge from the 2030s or 2040s.
They will be aircraft with increased stealth capabilities and a series of new technological resources, such as artificial intelligence and even autonomous controls. In addition, they are being conceived through digital engineering, agile software development and open architecture.
The US Air Force (USAF) is so far the only one to claim to have tested a full-scale demonstrator in flight. The reconnaissance was done in September 2020, a sign that the NGAD (Next Generation Air Dominance) program is apace.
It is not known, however, which aircraft manufacturer is, although Lockheed Martin has released a render of a 6th generation tailless fighter that shows expected characteristics for such a model.