This fuzzy slide made an appearance during a public Air Force briefing at AirVenture last week, showing something called the "F-X," which would be a sixth-generation jet fighter that's due to replace the F-22 Raptor by 2030. We found a non-fuzzy picture of this thing, and we can tell you exactly what it is.
This, unfortunately, is the largest picture that I've been able to find of what turns out to be a Northrop Grumman concept for a sixth generation fighter. As you can see, it's FIRING FREAKIN' LASERS, which makes complete sense since Northrop Grumman has plenty of experience building directed energy weapons. You can also expect a gen six fighter to be about as stealthy as a black cat on a dark night when the cat isn't actually there, to have sensors integrated all over, to be able to fly at Mach 5, and "to be optionally manned." Here's Boeing's take on the gen six:
2030 might sound like a long time from now, but the USAF request for proposals to develop what would become the F-22 Raptor (which officially entered service in 2005) went out in 1986. So, that's a 20 year lead time, which means the USAF is already running late on the generation six fighter if 2030 is their target. It makes sense, then, that Northrop Grumman and Boeing have been putting some thought into an ultra-futuristic fighter recently, and I'm personally hoping that the USAF kicks off another awesome X-Plane battle like they did to come up with the F-22. That way, both these concepts could become real, and then dogfight each other for aerial supremacy.