Some US experts believe that the development of the F/A-XX, the next-generation carrier-based fighter, should be carried out as soon as possible since Lockheed Martin's F-35C may not be able to compete against Russia's T-50 and or China's J-20, according to Beijing's Science and Technology.
Experts close to Lockheed Martin said that both the F-35C Lighting and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet would be unable to prevail in aerial combat against the T-50 and J-20. One of the experts even said that improvements in the Russian and Chinese missile launching systems indicate that the US is losing its advantage in the development of military aircraft. They added that currently the F-22 Raptor is the only type of fifth-generation fighter the US has with overwhelming superiority.
Other unnamed experts said that F/A-XX needs to be developed soon because the F-35C will more likely be used as a tactical bomber. They added that the F-35C is unlikely to challenge the numerical superiority of China's future carrier-based fighters. The F/A-XX thus may be a better option than the F-35C in aerial combat. However, some modifications must be made if the sixth-generation stealth fighter is going to be equipped with more air-to-air missiles.
The F/A-XX fighter must be able to conduct supersonic flight at an altitude of between 50,000 and 60,000 feet and have stealth capability to meet the qualification of the US Navy's next-generation fighter. Like Lockheed Martin's F-22, it needs to have advanced sensors and weapon systems to engage the threats imposed by the T-50 and J-20 in future aerial engagements. Some cooperation may be carried out jointly by the US Air Force and Navy in the future regarding the development of the F/A-XX.