Fifth Generation Explained

What is a Fifth-Generation Air Force?

The Air Force Strategy has the aim of Air Force becoming a fifth-generation Air Force.

What is fifth-generation?

Fifth-generation refers to the latest technological evolution of aircraft. While the different aircraft generations traditionally refer to fighter jets, Air Force needs our people, working with all aircraft, capabilities and systems to achieve a fifth-generation force.

A fifth-generation Air Force is a fully-networked force that exploits the combat multiplier effects of a readily available, integrated and shared battlespace picture to deliver lethal and non-lethal air power.

A fifth-generation Air Force will provide the joint and networked effects necessary to prevail against the increasingly complex and lethal threats of warfare in the Information Age.

What are the other aircraft generations?

First Generation

First generation generally refers to the introduction of subsonic fighter jets, first introduced in late World War II. Examples include the Meteor and Sabre.

Second Generation

This generation is generally considered the mid 1950s to early 1960s, when afterburning turbojet engines entered production. Examples include the Mirage.

Third Generation

The 1960s to approximately 1970 produced aircraft with increased maneuverability, and ground attack capabilities, combined with the introduction of guided missiles. Examples include the Phantom.

Fourth Generation

Between approximately 1970 and the mid-1990s, aircraft were characterised by their multi-role configurations, and equipped with sophisticated avionics and weapons system. Examples include the F/A-18A/B Hornet.

Four-and-a-half Generation

This generation of aircraft from the 1990s until 2005, are often modified fourth generation aircraft, with significantly enhanced capabilities. They are commonly identified by signature reduction, helmet-mounted sights, GPS guided weapons, and highly integrated systems. Examples include the F/A-18F Super Hornet.

Fifth Generation

From 2005 onwards, fifth-generation fighter aircraft are characterised by very low-observability including internal weapons bays, vastly improved situational awareness through a network-centric combat environment. Examples include the F-35A.

Because fifth-generation aircraft operate in a network-centric combat environment, the entire Air Force must be optimised to provide the joint and networked effects necessary to prevail against the increasingly complex and lethal threats of warfare in the Information Age.

A fifth-generation Air Force is a fully-networked force that exploits the combatmultiplier effects of a readily available, integrated and shared battlespace picture to deliver lethal and non-lethal air power.