Russia Developing Sixth-Generation Combat Aircraft

Rendition of BAE Systems Tempest 6th generation fighter.

“Currently, we are thinking about the concept of a sixth-generation aircraft, conducting search research, exchanging views with military specialists. Such an aircraft should appear sometime by 2050, but already now it is necessary to understand what the armed conflicts of the future will be like.” – Evgeny Fedosov, Scientific Director of the State Research Institute of Aviation Systems.”

Russia hopes to have a sixth-generation combat aircraft prototype by 2050, according to the excerpted analysis of a report written by Evgeny Fedosov of the Russian Academy of Sciences published by state news agency TASS.  Sixth-generation aircraft, still in their early phase of development, are expected to have advanced digital features like artificial intelligence (AI) integration and data fusion, as well as other enhanced command, control, and communication (C3) capabilities. The aircraft would be similar to fifth-generation combat aircraft—designed for greater air-to-air capability, battlefield survivability in anti-access/area denial environments, and ground support—but with greater focus on enhanced integration of AI systems and less focus on close-in dogfighting, which is a less common feature of current and future war scenarios.  This is not the first time that the Russians have announced plans to develop a sixth-generation combat aircraft. TASS first reported these developments in 2017[i] and the article touts Russia’s Su-57 [RG1] Felon as “almost” possessing capabilities or easy upgradable features to become a sixth-generation aircraft. These capabilities include supercruise (i.e. sustained supersonic flight without use of an afterburner) and advanced avionics (i.e. an aircraft’s communications, navigation, and flight control systems). 

The second excerpted article from the The EurAsian Times is a commentary on Fedosov’s report. It notes that AI technology will provide the aircraft with advanced digital and C3 capabilities, as well as data fusion and remote or autonomous piloting. Fedosov expects the pilot to be integrated into the airframe, with cockpits and helmet-mounted displays allowing for 360-degree vision similar to the F-35 [RG2] . Stealth, as before, will continue to play a huge role in sixth-generation aircraft capabilities. Several other nations have announced plans to develop sixth-generation combat aircraft to include Turkey[ii] as well as the UK, Italy, and Japan, which announced a joint plan to develop a similarly advanced fighter.[iii] The Russian military’s development of advanced combat aircraft has been notorious for delays, cost overruns, and faulty features evident in the deployment of its fifth-generation Su-57 aircraft. Discussing the aircraft, Fedosov acknowledged the complication of designing future combat aircraft as they become larger, heavier, and costlier to make. The TASS article suggests that the U.S. Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance plan to roll out a sixth-generation combat aircraft to replace its F-22 Raptor fighters by 2030 is unlikely to be eclipsed by the Russians anytime soon.[iv] The report further highlights divisions among the engineers, strategists, and aviators of Russia’s ministry of defense, over which capabilities to emphasize. The main divide is whether to focus on producing fighters designed for beyond visual range engagement or models (not unlike its previous Sukhoi or Mikoyan versions) capable of close-range dogfights, but there is also major disagreement over whether future models should be manned or unmanned.[v]


“Боевой самолет шестого поколения может появиться в России к 2050 году (A Sixth-Generation Combat Aircraft may Appear in Russia by 2050),” TASS (Russian state news agency), 25 February 2024.

A sixth-generation combat aircraft may appear in Russia by 2050, now there is an exchange of views with the military regarding its concept. This is written in a column for TASS by the scientific director of the State Research Institute of Aviation Systems (GosNIIAS), Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Evgeny Fedosov.

“Currently, we are thinking about the concept of a sixth-generation aircraft, conducting search research, exchanging views with military specialists. Such an aircraft should appear sometime by 2050, but already now it is necessary to understand what the armed conflicts of the future will be like,” he writes.

Touching upon the design of future aircraft, Fedosov suggested that “to go further according to the logic of complication is a vicious practice.” He also pointed out that combat aircraft are becoming more complex from generation to generation and, as a result, becoming heavier. “And the larger and heavier the plane, the more expensive it is,” the academician concluded.

GosNIIAS is a leading center in the development of on-board aviation systems and equipment. The founder of modeling methods for designing automatic systems of any degree of complexity. The Institute participates in the creation of aircraft at all stages: from the development of the concept of aircraft creation to modernization during operation. 

Ashish Dangwal, “Russia’s 6th-Gen Fighter Jet to be Deployed by 2050; Will not Dump Pilots for Robots – GosNIIAS,” The EurAsian Times (a privately owned digital news site specializing in defense and global news) 26 February 2024.

According to state media TASS, Russia is actively setting its sights on developing a sixth-generation fighter jet that could be deployed by 2050.

The development was disclosed by Evgeny Fedosov, Scientific Director of the State Research Institute of Aviation Systems (GosNIIAS) and a distinguished member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Fedosov outlined the initiative in a column published by TASS, shedding light on the ongoing discussions and research surrounding the conceptualization of the sixth-generation aircraft.

According to Fedosov, the development process involves extensive consultation and collaboration with military specialists to anticipate the demands of future armed conflicts.

“Currently, we are thinking about the concept of a sixth-generation aircraft, conducting research and exchanging views with military specialists,” he said. Fedosov, however, highlighted a critical concern regarding the design complexity of next-generation combat aircraft, describing it as a potentially “vicious practice.”

He pointed out that with each successive iteration of military aviation, the size and weight tend to increase, inevitably impacting the cost of such equipment.

He also added that the sixth-generation combat aviation group will include both manned aircraft and unmanned vehicles.

“There is an opinion that the air group should be mixed and consist of drones and manned aircraft. Such a mixed park, in principle, can exist,” Fedosov remarked. He said that the size and speed of the drones would enable them to function as wingmen within a group.

Building upon the success of fifth-generation platforms, sixth-generation fighters would be designed to adapt to evolving trends in aerial warfare, where traditional dogfighting scenarios are giving way to long-range engagements utilizing beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile capabilities.

In recent years, numerous countries have declared their intention to embark on the development of indigenous sixth-generation aircraft programs, illustrating a global push toward advancing military aviation capabilities.

The United States Air Force is a key player in this arena, actively advancing its efforts to develop a next-generation fighter jet through the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) stealth fighter program.

Multinational initiatives have also emerged, reflecting a strategic approach to leveraging shared resources and expertise while mitigating development costs.

China is also believed to be in the process of developing its sixth-generation fighter jet, having previously demonstrated its capabilities with the construction of the fifth-generation J-20 fighter jet.On the other hand, Russia has encountered difficulties in deploying its stealth fighter jet, the Su-57, in large numbers. Moreover, discussions concerning the development of a sixth-generation fighter jet have previously faced obstacles.


 [i] “Russia may upgrade advanced Su-57 aircraft to 6th-generation fighter jet,” TASS, 1 November 2017.

 [ii] Dilara Aslan Ozer, Türkiye starts works on AI-backed 6th-generation fighter jet,” Daily Sabah, 12 January 2024.

[iii] Josh Luckenbaugh, “UK-Italy-Japan Cite Steady Progress Developing Next-Gen Jet Fighter,” National Defense, 30 October 2023.

[iv] Ryan Finnerty, “US defense spending bill could expose new details of sixth generation fighter development,” FlightGlobal, 19 December 2023.

[v] Boyko Nikolov, “Su-57 Felon is a step towards the 6th-gen, but Russians are at odds,”, 24 November 2023.

Image information:

Image: Rendition of BAE Systems Tempest 6th generation fighter
Attribution: Fair Use

Former Wagner Troops Integrated Into Chechen Unit Fighting in Ukraine

State Border Guard Service of Ukraine

“A platoon dubbed Kamerton (Tuning Fork) consisting of fighters from the now-defunct Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), who had been incorporated into the ranks of the Akhmat special forces group, has carried out a successful assault on a Ukrainian-occupied elevated point.”

On 12 December 2023, a platoon of former fighters from the disbanded Wagner Group carried out an operation in Ukraine-controlled Bakhmut. The operation, a successful assault on the town, marked one of the few times that the official Russian news agency, TASS, has mentioned the Wagner Group after its failed mutiny in 2023 and the death of its mercurial leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

While the article does not provide significant detail about the operation itself, it confirms that remnants of Wagner are still actively fighting in Ukraine. The platoon, called Kamerton (or “Tuning Fork”), is under the command of the Akhmat Special Forces, a 12,000-strong Chechen special forces unit that is part of the Russian National Guard.[i] Roughly 1,200 Akhmat fighters are estimated to be fighting in Ukraine, though their poor discipline has drawn criticisms (they have been dubbed the “TikTok Army” for their social media posts).[ii]

The second excerpted article from TASS, published on 1 December 2023, provides more detail about Kamerton’s operational capability. It describes the platoon as having both an assault and artillery capability, which supports previous reporting that Akhmat forces not only engaged in trench clearing operations but also provided artillery support to assist Russia’s 4th Brigade and other forces in the disputed Donets region. Adding a platoon with artillery capability to Akhmat would fill a void in the unit structure as the Chechens are traditionally equipped and trained as light infantry or paramilitary combatants. Still, even if Kamerton includes an artillery component, it would be relatively small given the unit is described as a platoon.   Assuming the TASS stories are accurate, they provide preliminary evidence on the whereabouts of a small handful of Wagner fighters, how they are being used in Ukraine, and their current capabilities. The Akhmat battalion is a logical unit for former Wagner fighters as they were close and shared the same battlespace during the battle for Bakhmut in early 2023. Incorporating Wagner remnants into Akhmat units may also plug a capability gap and be easier than trying to integrate the former Wagner fighters into a standard Russian Army infantry or artillery unit.[iii] However, it remains unclear how the remnants of Wagner, or another private military company, will fill the void Wagner left in other parts of the world.[iv]


“Собранный из бойцов ‘Вагнера’ отряд ‘Камертон’ провел первый штурм к западу от Артемовска, (Platoon formed from ex-Wagner PMC fighters carries out first assault near Artyomovsk),” TASS (official news agency of Russian government), 12 December 2023.

A platoon dubbed Kamerton (Tuning Fork) consisting of fighters from the now-defunct Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), who had been incorporated into the ranks of the Akhmat special forces group, has carried out a successful assault on a Ukrainian-occupied elevated point near the western outskirts of Artyomovsk, the platoon commander, who goes by the call sign “Press,” told TASS.

“Prior to this, it was everyday routine [frontline activities] – reconnaissance and fire strikes. Yet, this was precisely an assault on a key elevated point in this sector directly by the Kamerton platoon with support from the 4th brigade. In six minutes, Kamerton’s assault groups entered the elevated point and engaged in combat in a trench. They wiped out the enemy and opened up space for the operations of their neighboring platoons,” the commander said.

According to him, the positions taken will help develop further progress in this sector of the line of contact. “The 4th brigade and other Russian forces in this area are being covered by Kamerton’s artillery,” he clarified…

“Командир собранного из бойцов “Вагнера” отряда рассказал о выполнении задач в ходе СВО (The commander of the detachment assembled from Wagner fighters spoke about the implementation of tasks during the Northern Military District),” TASS (Russian state media), 1 December 2023.

According to the head of “Kamerton”, which is part of “Akhmat”, its fighters are engaged in “the whole range of tasks.”

The Kamerton detachment, which consists of former fighters of the Wagner PMC and is part of the Akhmat special forces, performs a full range of tasks in the area of the special military operation. The detachment commander with the call sign Press reported this to TASS.

“Tuning Fork” includes both assault groups and armored and artillery formations.

“Taking into account experience and past operations, we are faced with the whole range of tasks, as well as other Akhmat special forces units. From training personnel, combat coordination to carrying out combat missions on the line of combat contact,” Press said.

He clarified that Akhmat is a self-sufficient division with its own approaches and methods. According to the Press, Akhmat’s management has allowed Kamerton to fully exploit its strengths.“Tuning fork” inherited and brought with it in full all the best qualities inherent in “musicians” (fighters of the Wagner PMC – TASS note), both in matters of corporate ethics and in direct approaches to solving combat missions. PMC fighters in the Akhmat special forces are a unique alloy,” added the unit commander.


[i] Akhmat Special Forces operating in Ukraine, led by Chechen commander, Apti Alaudinov, operated closely with Wagner Group prior to Prigozhin’s mutiny and siege of Russian military HQ in Rostov. Although the relationship changed, it would not be far-fetched for Wagner personnel to be incorporated the Chechen ranks as the units and personnel worked together. Also of importance, the Akhmat Special Forces was initially a predominantly Chechen unit. Over time the unit has become home to many ethnicities from the Russian Federation and prides itself as multicultural, multi-religious, comprised of Jews, Muslims and Christians—according to mulitiple statements from its commander Apti Alaudinov posted to his Telegram channel.

[ii] Borzou Daragahi, “Putin’s lapdog wears Prada: Chechen leader Kadyrov poses on TikTok while his men kill civilians in Ukraine,” The Independent, 7 April 2022.

 [iii] To see more on Wagner Group activities around the world, see FMSO’s archives here:

[iv] A recent report by the Center for New American Security suggests that the Wagner Group has created a new “model that other Russian opportunistic actors will seek to replicate,” especially given the lack of financial resources for Russia’s military and civilian elite. See: Kimberly Marten, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Carisa Nietsche, “Potential Russian Uses of Paramilitaries in Eurasia,” CNAS, 17 January 2024.

Image Information:

Image: Southwestern part of Bakhmut (Donetsk region of Ukraine) during the battle for the city in Spring 2023.
Source: State Border Guard Service of Ukraine,_frame_16531.jpg
Attribution: CCA 4.0 Int

Russia Denies that North Korea Is Supplying It With Weapons for Use in Ukraine

Meeting of Russian and North Korean Defense Ministers at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang on 25 July 2023.

“The accusations made by the ‘collective West’ of ‘illegal’ military-technical cooperation between Russia and North Korea are unfounded and unsubstantiated.”

Relations between Russia and North Korea are drawing concern as new evidence emerges that Pyongyang has supplied Moscow with conventional munitions and missiles for use in Ukraine. Satellite activity from October 2022 revealed that North Korea supplied an arsenal of weapons – including short-range ballistic missiles, anti-tank missiles, and portable anti-air missiles as well as rifles, rocket launchers, mortars and shells.[i] If confirmed, North Korean sales of weapons to Russia would violate several UN Security Council resolutions  (1718, 2270, and 2321) going back to 2006, which ban the sales of all arms, ballistics systems, and related materials to and from Pyongyang. 

It is estimated Russia received some 350,000 artillery shells from North Korea. At a rate of fire of 10,000 per day at its high at the time of this writing (down from an estimated peak of 60,000 per day in 2022[ii]), that gives Russia just short of a two months’ supply. To put that figure in comparison, given American production levels of 24,000 artillery shells per month, that is more than the US produces in an entire year. The slower pace of Russian missiles fired (based on the 10,0000 per shells per day statistic) on Ukrainian cities could reflect its lack of supply, or it could be a sign of stockpiling in anticipation of a winter offensive, as some analysts suspect.[iii]  

For its part, Russia’s foreign ministry has vehemently denied any violations. According to the excerpted article in the pro-Kremlin news site Sputnik News, Russia denies any “illegal” weapons transfers. Yet satellite imagery starting in August 2023 captures some 1,000 containers leaving North Korea’s Rajin port bound for an ammunition dump near Ukraine’s border.[iv] Indeed, as of October 2023, research from CSIS indicates that cross-border activity at North Korea’s Tumangang Rail Facility has spiked to its highest levels since before the pandemic.

In exchange, Russia has reportedly provided technical support to North Korea’s nascent space program, as well as ICBM technology. Such assistance is likely needed given Pyongyang’s two previous attempts to launch reconnaissance satellites failed due to booster malfunctions. Theodore Postol of MIT has suggested that Russia also supplied North Korea with the Topol-M [R1] ICBM, the basis for its solid-fuel Hwasong-18 [RG2] missile.[v] Though these reported arms transfers are notable, the Russia-North Korean nexus is not new. After the Cold War, observers raised fears that out-of-work Russian nuclear scientists were assisting Pyongyang to develop nuclear weapons. Today, fears of an arms race are rising in Seoul.[vi] That has prompted South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. to begin sharing real-time missile warning data emanating from North Korea.[vii] Experts disagree whether the Russia-North Korea nexus is a sign of Russian weakness (Russia is badly in need of arms) or strength (Moscow has allies and an arsenal it can call on rapidly for arms). Whatever the assessment, this nexus bears attention from the U.S. Army.


“МИД РФ отрицает нарушение резолюций СБ ООН по Северной Корее (Russian Foreign Ministry Denies Violating UNSC Resolutions on North Korea),” Sputnik News (pro-Kremlin news outlet directed at foreigners), 11 November 2023.  

“The accusations made by the ‘collective West’ of ‘illegal’ military-technical cooperation between Russia and North Korea are unfounded and unsubstantiated … Russia is responsible in fulfilling its international obligations, including Security Council resolutions. This does not prevent us from deepening traditional relations of friendship and cooperation with our neighbors, including North Korea,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted as saying by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Russian Foreign Ministry Ambassador at Large Oleg Burmistrov told Sputnik that Russia thoroughly abides by its international obligations towards Pyongyang within the Security Council’s resolutions.

Earlier in the day North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement distributed by the Korean media that friendship between Russia and North Korea will only strengthen in the future, and the United States will face a “powerful and coordinated response” if it attempts to disrupt stability in the region.“Relations of friendship and cooperation between two countries – Korea and Russia, striving for independence, peace and friendship, will unshakably strengthen and develop, and any attempts by the United States and its satellites aimed at disrupting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region will face a powerful and coordinated response from independent sovereign states,” the statement said. It said the US administration should get used to the “new realities of Korean-Russian relations.”


[i] Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.Victor Cha and Jennifer Jun, “Ongoing Arms Transfer Activity at Najin Port,” Beyond Parellel, CSIS, 17 October 2023.

 [ii] Jeff Schogol, “Russia is hammering Ukraine with up to 60,000 artillery shells and rockets every day,” Taks and Purpose. 13 June 2022.

[iii] Dara Massicot, “Putin’s Cannon Fodder: Foreign Affairs Interview,” Foreign Affairs, 2 November 2023.

[iv] The shipment came shortly before the leaders of Russia and North Korea met for five hours at Russia’s Vostochny Spaceport, according to TASS, the Russian News Agency. See: Five hours at Vostochny Spaceport: Putin, Kim Jong Un meet again four years later,” TASS (Russia’s main state news agency), 13 September 2023. The satellite imagery is further backed up by recent analysis by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) that found that two Russian vessels made at least five round trips between North Korea and Russia, believed to be arms transfers. See: Song Sang-Ho, “2 Russian ships made 5 trips between N. Korea, Russia since mid-Aug. in suspected arms transfers,” YonHap News Agency (South Korea’s leading news agency) 17 October 2023.

 [v] Theodore Postol of MIT suggests that Russia also had supplied North Korea with the Topol-M ICBM, the basis for its solid-fuel Hwasong-18 missile. See: Theodore Postol, “The Transfer of a Russian ICBM to North Korea?” Beyond Parallel, 17 August 2023.

[vi] Simon Hutagalung, “Russia and North Korea relations in transition,” Korea Times (English-language newspaper in Seoul), 5 November, 2023.

[vii] Anastasia Kostina, “Учения обстоятельств: США и Южная Корея отработают оборону от КНДР (Exercises of circumstances: the United States and South Korea will practice defense against the DPRK: How Pyongyang and Beijing react to the maneuvers of Washington and Seoul),” Izvestia (Russian news outlet), 30 October 2023.

Image Information:

Image: Meeting of Russian and North Korean Defense Ministers at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang on 25 July 2023.
Source: Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation,
Attribution: CCA 4.0