Analysis: Europe's fighter fleets

Faced with competition from the US, European aerospace firms are pressing ahead with fourth- and 4.5-generation platforms such as the Gripen, Typhoon and Rafale.

Beyond US platforms such as Lockheed Martin’s timeless F-16 and the new fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter, the dominant indigenous fighter in Europe is, of course, the Eurofighter Typhoon, which began entering service with the four countries – Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – from 2003.

RAF Typhoon
RAF Typhoons from 1 Fighter Squadron, RAF Lossiemouth, newly arrived at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, on 18 January to take part in Exercise ‘Red Flag’. Crown copyright/Cpl Nicholas Egan RAF

The UK’s RAF, which has 160 Typhoons but intends to retire its older Tranche 1 aircraft by 2025, operates the type alongside the US-based Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II. In terms of the future fighter force mix, an RAF spokesperson told Air International: “The UK is committed to developing its combat air capability through continued capability growth in both the Lightning and Typhoon fleets, as well as significant investment in the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), as announced in the Integrated Review.

Become a Premium Member to Read More

This is a premium article and requires an active Key.Aero subscription to view.

I’m an existing member, sign me in!

I don’t have a subscription…

Enjoy the following subscriber only benefits:

  • Unlimited access to all KeyAero content
  • Exclusive in-depth articles and analysis, videos, quizzes added daily
  • A fully searchable archive – boasting hundreds of thousands of pieces of quality aviation content
  • Access to read all our leading aviation magazines online - meaning you can enjoy the likes of FlyPast, Aeroplane Monthly, AirForces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, Aviation News, Airports of the World, PC Pilot and Airliner World - as soon as they leave the editor’s desk.
  • Access on any device- anywhere, anytime
  • Choose from our offers below