Russia’s Already Developing Sixth- and Seventh-Gen Fighter Jets

Bold claims make for aviation buff debate fodder.

Russian Air Force Fighter

Turns out America isn't the only nation working on its next crop of military aircrafts. While U.S. companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have been creating concepts for sixth-generation fighter planes and future bombers, Sukhoi design bureau has whipped up plans for Russia's next generation of combat aircraft.

"They have really come up with the designs for the creation of the sixth-generation fighter," Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin tells TASS.

According to Viktor Bondarev, commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces, both manned and unmanned versions of the new plane are being developed. But Russia is already looking further down the road. "[The plane] will be modified in both versions," he said, before cagily adding: "If we stop, we stop forever. Therefore, the work is going on—on the sixth and perhaps seventh [generation] fighters."

If history's any indication, it may be a while before sixth-gen fighters are tearing across the skies above the Kremlin. While the U.S. has been operating fifth-gen fighter jets for more than a decadeRussia's fifth-gen plane, the Sukhoi PAK FA (pictured above), isn't expected to go into service until 2017.

But there ain't no arms race like a literal arms race, so Russia can't afford to sit still and wait for the PAK FA before thinking about its fighter jet future. The U.S. military has been officially working on its sixth-generation fighter plans since 2008, with the goal of creating a capable replacement for the F-22A Raptor and the F/A-18E Super Hornet, aiming to take to the skies by 2030.