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.

Feature Premium

Highway Hornets: How does Finland train its F/A-18 pilots for dispersed ops?

AirForces Monthly hit the road to join the Finnish Air Force as it practised its long tradition of flying its F/A-18s from the country’s main dual carriageways

Australia completes first major international F-35A deployment

The RAAF has marked a major milestone in its operation of the F-35A Lightning II after aircraft from No 75 Squadron departed RAAF Base Tindal in Australia’s Northern Territory to Malaysia, where it completed the type's first international deployment (outside the US) in Australian service

Belgium’s first F-35A is now in production

The Belgian Ministry of Defence revealed that the manufacturing process of the country’s first F-35A Lightning II has begun at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, on November 14

Romania inks €388m deal to buy F-16s from Norway

A contract for the sale of 32 second-hand Royal Norwegian Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM (MLU) Fighting Falcons to Romania was signed by the Romanian government and the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency on November 4

Feature Premium

IN PICTURES: Uganda marks Independence Day with stylish military flypast!

Held annually at the Kololo Airstrip in Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, the national Independence Day Ceremony and Military Parade was celebrated on October 9, with the Uganda People’s Defence Air Force marking the occasion with a stylish flypast

Feature Premium

Inside Boeing's big push to sell F/A-18 Super Hornets to India

Khalem Chapman explores Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Block III offering to the Indian Navy as it looks to further modernize its carrier-based fighter fleet

News Premium

New F/A-18E CAG-bird for the US Navy’s ‘Stingers’

The new CAG-bird for the US Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron 113 (VFA-113) ‘Stingers’ – a unit assigned to Carrier Air Wing 2 – has been spotted during a deployment to NAS Fallon in Nevada

USAF plots withdrawal of F-15s from Kadena

According to a report released on October 27, the USAF is planning to remove all of its Boeing F-15C/D Eagle fighters from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, in 2023

Feature Premium

USAF F-22 Raptors perform enhanced air policing in Poland

As Pacific Air Forces F-22s deployed at Lask Air Base to own the skies alongside NATO, Combat Aircraft Journal looks at the work of the Alaskan fighters

Wisconsin ANG's final 'Badgers' F-16C departs Dane County

The departure of USAF F-16C Fighting Falcon from Dane County Regional Airport, Madison-Truax Field, Wisconsin, on October 5 marked the end of F-16 operations by the Wisconsin ANG’s 115th Fighter Wing/176th Fighter Squadron ‘Badgers’ after three decades flying the type

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

Want to read more about Airforce NewsMilitary Transport AircraftMilitary Aircraft ShowMilitary Aircraft Technology?

Subscribe to Key.Aero

Become a part of our aviation community and subscribe to Key.Aero now. You can get all the aviation information you'll ever need, whenever you want, with access to all the latest aviation updates, news, events and more.