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.

USAF orders first F-15EX batch in $1.2bn deal

Boeing has been contracted by the US Air Force (USAF) for its first lot of eight F-15EX multi-role fighters, in a deal worth roughly US$1.2bn.

US approves Japan’s $23bn F-35 purchase

The US State Department has approved the possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of 105 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighters to Japan.

Gripen E/F parts production begins in Brazil

Saab announced that parts production of its Gripen E/F multi-role fighter has started at its new sub-assembly facility in São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, on July 7.

Germany approves Eurofighter AESA radar upgrade

The German Bundestag has approved the development, production and integration of new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar systems for the Luftwaffe’s (German Air Force’s) entire Eurofighter EF-2000 fleet.

Canadian Hornet upgrade approved by US

The US State Department has approved the possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of new munitions and radar systems to Canada, as the nation seeks to extend the life of its legacy Hornet fleet.

StormBreaker makes Super Hornet test debut

Raytheon Missiles and Defense, alongside the US Navy, has completed the first guided release of its GBU-53/B StormBreaker air-launched, precision-guided glide bomb from a Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

US Navy receives first two Block III Super Hornets

Boeing has delivered the first two F/A-18E/F Block III Super Hornets carrier-capable multi-role fighters to the US Navy for flight testing.

Boeing’s F-15QA completes first flight

Boeing has successfully completed the first flight of the F-15QA (Qatar Advanced) – the most advanced variant of the Eagle family to be manufactured so far.

COVID-19 halts planned FA-50 exports to Argentina

Korea Aerospace Industries’ (KAI’s) plan to export light fighters to Argentina has been put on hold indefinitely due to the outbreak of COVID-19, according to local media sources.

Feature Premium

Flottille 11F: 100 Years of Fury!

The French Navy’s oldest fighter squadron, Flottille 11F, turned 100 last year. Bastien Otelli takes the opportunity to look back at its glorious past and to examine the latest evolution of the Rafale, as the unit becomes the first to receive the F3-R standard.

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.