F-36 Kingsnake: the Air Force’s next fighter?

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Andy Godfrey / Teasel Studio

  • The US Air Force has expressed interest in a new non-stealth fighter jet to replace the F-16.
  • Several aviation experts got together and invented a new jet From nowhere.
  • The result, the F-36 Kingsnake, would use engines from the F-22, place less emphasis on stealth and use digital engineering.

    In 2021, US Air Force Chief of Staff General CQ Brown caused a stir when he announced that the service was considering purchasing an all-new fighter jet to help replace the F- 16 Vipers. Such a jet does not yet exist, but thanks to new digital engineering techniques, it could in fact enter service before 2030.

    Now The Alternative Aviation Magazine Hush-Kit brought together experts to design this potential F-16 replacement. The result: the F-36 Kingsnake light fighter.

    Hush-Kit huddled with aviation authorities Stephen Mcparlin and James Smith, who helped bring planes like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Eurofighter Typhoon to life. Then, illustrator Andy Godfrey of Teasel Studio took their ideas and created this concept art for the F-36:

    f36 kingsnake f35
    F-36 Kingsnake, side view.

    Andy Godfrey / Teasel Studio

    Hush-Kit used General Brown’s specifications—a lightweight, inexpensive fighter that did not emphasize stealth (making it a “fifth generation minus” design)—to design the F-36.

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    The average age of the Air Force’s 783 F-16C fighter jets is 28.7 years old, making a 20-year development period for a new jet out of the question. Instead, experts wanted a rapid design process that would freeze the specs of the aircraft within a year and rely on simple construction techniques, but also use advanced technologies such as 3D printing if possible. allowing the hunter to get off the assembly lines faster.

    Reusing existing technologies would speed up the process. For example, the F-36 uses the F-22 Raptor’s F119 afterburning turbojet engine to achieve a top speed of Mach 2. The Kingsnake is fitted with an advanced AN/APG-83 phased array radar – the same used in the latest version of the F-16 – and an infrared sensor system derived from the Legion’s electro-optical targeting pod.

    A “Luddite Tsar” would prevent new technology from seeping into the jet, lengthening the jet’s development time and increasing the likelihood of Kingsnake falling behind.

    Like the F-35 (pictured), the F-36 would have an internal weapons bay. It would also carry weapons on wing-mounted hardpoints.

    NurPhotoGetty Images

    Like the F-16 it would replace, the Kingsnake would be a versatile fighter aircraft capable of performing air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. The jet would carry missiles and guided bombs in internal bays, but as a non-stealth aircraft it would pack both in external wing-mounted hardpoints. The Kingsnake would also be a firearm, making it capable of strafing attacks against enemy ground forces.

    “The F-35 is a Ferrari, the F-22 a Bugatti Chiron – the US Air Force needs a Nissan 300ZX.”

    The guiding principles of the F-36 are speed of development, affordability and the ability to integrate new technologies at a later date. “The F-35 is a Ferrari, the F-22 a Bugatti Chiron – the US Air Force needs a Nissan 300ZX,” Hush-Kit‘s Joe Coles tells robot pop.

    Could the Air Force build something like the F-36 Kingsnake? Yes. The real question: Will be this?

    The requirement for a sub-5th generation fighter is not yet set in stone, but the Air Force will make a decision by 2023.

    Given that the Air Force recently admitted that it designed and built its secret sixth-generation fighter jet in just one year, it could build a plane like the F-36 pretty quickly.

    queen snake or queen snake, colubridae
    A king snake attacking a western diamondback rattlesnake, a member of the viper family.

    AGOSTINI PHOTO LIBRARYGetty Images

    As for the name of the F-36, king snakes are North American snakes that live up to 30 years, which bodes well for the lifespan of the F-36. King snakes are so named because they have a habit of eating other snakes – an apt moniker for a fighter designed to replace the Viper.


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