Monday, March 15, 2010

6th Generation Fighter Aircraft - Replacing the F-22 Raptor

Here is a post I made in the forum, that I am kind of proud of and it has a lot of solid logic and a lot to look forward to in the Future. Enjoy!

Seeing how things are changing in the world of technology I do not expect anything conventional to replace the F-22 Raptor. The 6th gen would not be about the same things just more and better. It would need a new paradigm. Think about it, every generation of fighter aircraft had added something fundamentally new, while ever so slightly improving the legacy features.

1st - Get Engine
2nd - Get Engine + Speed
3rd - Get Engine + Speed + Guided Missiles
4th - Get Engine + Speed + Guided Missiles + Maneuverability
5th - Get Engine + Speed + Guided Missiles + Maneuverability + Stealth
6th - Get Engine + Speed + Guided Missiles + Maneuverability + Stealth + ???

So what would be the rosseta stone of the 6th gen fighter? Here is my proposal, just conjured out of thin air.

The platform:
F-35 sized, tailless, 1 engine (F136 based), high-performance unmanned fighter. It will have 6-8 dual range air to everywhere missile and a 1 MW optical laser as weapons. It will have supersonic performance to rival the YF-23 but be able to withstand much higher G-forces.

Pilots can be located either on the ground or on a VLO flying command post hundreds of miles away awaiting in conform for any action. Communication can be done via lasers guaranteeing high bandwidth and extremely low probability of intercept. The fighter will be brought to the battle zone completely automatically via on board intelligence. When fuel is low, it will automatically refuel and return to station. It may be possible to even rearm in mid-air, if the weapons payload is made truly modular and flexible. Laser, needs only electricity so they just need more fuel to the engines which generate it.

If a situation arrises the pilots, can just pick up the closest fighter available to respond to the battle needs and take tactical control. They will only tell the fighter what targets to engage as if in a computer game and the AI of the craft would pick the the best situation and launch parameters for the weapons, with the pilots issuing the final shoot order. If and when WVR combat is required the pilots can take full control but be able to chose viewing as if it was a flight sim. By this time full 360 degrees visual/sensor coverage should not be an issue at all. Pilots will be able to view the battle in full 3D in real time and just draw maneuvers on the screen, that the fighter can perform.

I do believe the Unmanned option to be the true enabled of the 6th generation fighter. While it has value on its own, it serves to benefit all other 5 features of the aircraft by removing the need of a "on board pilot" requirement.

Every experienced fighter pilot can tell that the most demanding part of the flight is the battle when humans are actually needed is just mere minutes, sometimes seconds. The rest is boring and exhausting routine. If I had to design a 6 gen fighter, I would create a cheap but capable platform (not a mutirole fighter) that can be available over the battlefield 24/7. Obi Wan, said it best "Flying is for droids". The pilots should be working as a team in the same room making tactical decisions together and not worrying about their lives.

This actually turned rather nicely, for a first draft. B)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A little bit of unwanted Advice:Part 1

Apple is doing great. The just seam to defy the laws of physics if the physicians were the tech pundits analyzing their every move and especially those making design suggestions on their next generation products.

With this post I might just as well fall into that category. I would not pretend to be predicting the future though just rather make some logical observations.

Apple has proven that traditional smarthphones are obsolete and the whole Market is up for grabs by whoever embraces the iPhone approach and does a good job creating a great user experience. Android has done it to some extend and WP7S are poised to do so as well at the end of this year. Apple is not in danger of being out-inovated but of not delivering its 2007 innovation to people fast enough for it capture dominant market share, the way it did with the App Store.

Apple needs to replicate the success of the App Store into the iPhone. Don't get me wrong, I know the better the App Store, the better the iPhone sales. It's just that Apple managed to create and new type of digital store in such a way as to appeal to majority people in the one area that matters most besides quality: COST!

While the original iPhone had quality to spare, its cost constrained its sales.

Why is it that Apple can sale 1000 times more apps than devices on which they run? Clearly the iPhone is not 1000 times more expensive than its App's....or maybe it is. A lot of people have raized the valid point about the total cost of an iPhone over the two year contract being somewhere in the thousands.

Do you really need to tie people with a 2 years data plan contracts to guarantee that they will spend money on data traffic and bring profits to the carrier? Haven't people by now learned to conveniece of the allways on internet that they are going to purchase trafic themselves anyway?

Maybe, but maybe that's one side benefit to the success of the App Store. It trained people to buy is small parts but all the time. There was never a mountly fee to use the App Store, but boy did people not download stuff all the time?

What it is that I am trying to say here? Where is my point you ask? Well, my point is illustrated by the success of the approach some great App Developers have taken is selling their products ..... for FREE.

Great games and software now come virtually full featured from day one free of charge. But there is nothing like a full featured software from day one. There is always something you want to add or customize your experience or add additional functionality. These small updates cost what now cost the cheapest apps on the App store - 0.99 cents. Affordable to any and no brainer to buy if you have the slightest need to add this functionality to your app.

Apple has the best platform for generating money not just for itself but for its developers by bringing great content to the mass audience at unbelievably low prices. It's a WIN-WIN for every one. The more iPhones Apple deploys the more people can get access to its App store. The more people have access, the more incentive to developers to create better apps and lower prices. The more Apps are sold the greater the profits for Apple too.

The iPhone as a physical device is no longer anything special. It does not have any top of the line component any more. Not even the largest and highest res screen. But it doesn't matter, and it with the platform and its experience already established it probably better stick to its current specs. This should play to enormous financial benefit for apple as it can get ever lower prices on components and lower the manufacturing cost of the product.

Last September, Jobs talked about a the $199 Magic price point. Well it is magic but has a lot more power if its not tied to a 2 year contract. I think Apple are heading in the right direction and the Market underestimates the impact an existing product like the iPhone 3GS could still have if Apple manages to sell it at a new magics price without a contract. The iPad has proven that cellular devices can indeed be sold without a contract for a reasonable price.

So my first advice to Apple that they know themselves: find a way to negotiate with AT&T an 8GB iPhone 3GS for $299 without a contract.