What Capabilities Make a 6th Generation Fighter?

In recent months, just about every headline associated with a new fighter platform has been accompanied by the phrase “6th generation” or 6th gen, suggesting that whatever platform comes next will be the first of this new generation of fighters. The truth, however, is that fighter generations aren’t official labels, but rather industry terms commonly associated with significant leaps in aircraft capabilities. The definition of 5th generation fighters, as a good example, has varied over time — and as such, it’s important to remember that simply being new isn’t the same as being a new generation.

In order to understand what a 6th generation fighter will have to bring to the table, we first need to understand what the criteria make for a 5th generation platform.

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