Military Fighter Aircraft

Commonly called fighter aircraft or fighter jets; these fixed wing aircraft can be interceptors, bombers or reconnaissance aircraft with an electronic warfare role. Some modern fighter jets are what is called multirole aircraft. Military fast jets typically have one or two seats and often operate in a two-fighter team, with a lead and a wingman. It is their speed and versatility that distinguish a fighter from other types of military aircraft, such as transport planes or dedicated reconnaissance platforms.

Dassault delivers first Rafale to Greece

Dassault Aviation has delivered the first Rafale fighter to the Hellenic Air Force just six months after the contract signing by Greece for the acquisition of 18 aircraft in a €2.5bn deal

Dassault delivers first Rafale to Greece

Dassault Aviation has delivered the first of 18 Rafale multi-role fighters to the Hellenic Air Force, just six months after the acquisition contract was inked between the Greek Ministry of Defence and the French aircraft manufacturing giant

RAF Typhoons test tactical refuelling concept in Norway

RAF-operated Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4s from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland, have completed a proof of concept exercise in Norway, which tested tactical ground-based refuelling capabilities at a dispersed forward operating location

RAAF graduates first F-35A pilots trained in Australia

Four RAAF Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighter pilots have graduated from the platform’s first operational conversion course to be completed in Australia

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Report claims spatial disorientation caused Michigan F-16C crash

A US Air Force Aircraft Accident Investigation Board report into the loss of an F-16C in the Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan, on December 8, 2020, has found that spatial disorientation caused the crash

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Switzerland selects F-35A as new fighter

Switzerland’s Federal Council determined at its meeting on June 30 that the procurement of 36 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role fighters represented the most suitable solution for protecting the Swiss population from future air threats

Sri Lankan Kfirs in flight 02-09 [Alan Warnes] News Premium

IAI to upgrade Sri Lanka’s dormant Kfir fleet

Israel Aerospace Industries has signed a contract – worth US$50m – with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence to locally upgrade the avionics systems of the nation’s fleet of IAI Kfir multi-role fighters

Switzerland selects F-35 as new fighter

The Swiss Federal Council announced on June 30 that Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II had been selected as Switzerland's next fighter

Finnish Hornets participate in Ramstein Alloy 21-2

A pair of Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornet multi-role fighters from the Finnish Air Force are participating in the second Ramstein Alloy exercise of the year, with their involvement in the event taking place from June 29-30

Belarus delivers four MiG-29s to Serbia

Four Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Izdeliye 9-13 (Variant 9-13) Fulcrum-C multi-role fighters have been delivered to the Serbian Air Force and Air Defence by the Republic of Belarus

Fighter aircraft were not the first heavier-than-air military aircraft. During the First World War bi-planes with a pilot and a crew member would carry out. Guns were soon added to these aircraft and the fighters were born; the term dogfight became synonymous with the new form of aerial combat. These aircraft would also crudely drop bombs with a crew member simply throwing the bombs out of the aircraft. After the First World War, fighter development led to the single wing, enclosed cockpit, propeller powered aircraft such as the RAF Hawker Hurricane, Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the United States Army Airforce North American Aviation P-51 Mustang. After the war, the RAF Gloster Meteor was the RAF’s first operational jet fighter and it was rapidly joined by fast jets from France, Russia and the USA.

Today, the roles of military fast jets have hardly changed, from intercepting other fast jets fighters or bombers, to maintaining air superiority, they are bombing air defences and photographing bombed sites for battle damage assessment as well as escorting slower, more vulnerable aircraft.

Different Types of Fighter Planes

From the first aerial reconnaissance aircraft, the Wright brothers military flyer, or Model A, sold to the US military in 1909, it took 45 years until the United States Airforce’s North American F-100 Super Sabre became the world’s first operational supersonic fighter in 1954. There has been a huge amount of technological development between the Super Sabre and the world’s first operational fifth generation fighter, the United States Marine Corp’s Lockheed Martin F-35B/C Lightning II, which entered service in 2015. All fixed wing aircraft, since the advent of jet fighters in World War Two, have been a variety of designs to meet the military’s changing needs. Jet engines were in development before World War Two, but it was only near the end of that war that the first operational fast jet fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 262, took to the skies.

Fighters steadily developed to fly higher and faster, carry more payloads, both missiles and bombs, and became supersonic. The need for greater speed saw the delta wing shape for supersonic flight, air-to-air missiles were used in the Korean War for the first time, and it was only later that fighters were equipped with radar, allowing for longer range interception. The 1960s saw the development of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability with the Royal Navy’s Hawker Siddeley Harrier, which is still in service with the Indian military. Propeller powered fighter aircraft did not end with the flights of the Gloster Meteor and the 1950s saw experiments with VTOL propeller powered aircraft that sat on their tails in a vertical position.

Since the 1980s fast jets have become stealthy, first with the now retired Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk which was primarily a bomber, to the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, an interceptor, and the multirole Lockheed Martin F-35, which are both said to have very small radar signatures.

Find out more about other types of Military Aircraft

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