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.

31st FW live-fire exercise in UK News Premium

31st FW F-16s conduct live-fire exercise in the UK

For the first time in 14 years, the USAF’s 31st Fighter Wing had the opportunity to conduct F-16C Fighting Falcon air-to-air live fire training employment within the US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa area of responsibility, between July 9-16

60th FS reactivates as second F-35A unit at Eglin AFB

The USAF officially reactivated the 60th Fighter Squadron 'Fighter Crows' at Eglin AFB, Florida, under the 33rd Fighter Wing - a component of the 19th Air Force, Air Education and Training Command - on August 20

Poland deploys F-16s to Iceland for the first time

As part of the NATO Icelandic Air Policing mission, the Polish Air Force has deployed multiple Lockheed Martin F-16C/D-52+ Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters to Iceland for a several-week deployment through September

Gripen D 9819 departs News Premium

Saab to offer Gripen E/Fs to the Czech Air Force

The Czech Air Force requirement for a new fighter solution is now 'hotting' up. As the 23-year-long Saab Gripen C/D lease is ending in 2027, a decision will have to be made before 2023 to allow for a lead-in time of about four years

Pilot killed in Russian MiG-29SMT crash

A Russian Air Force MiG-29SMT Fulcrum-F crashed on August 18, killing the pilot. The press service of the Southern Military District said that the aircraft came down in an open area near the Ashchuluk training ground, in the Astrakhan region, during a routine training flight.

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Inside the Luftwaffe's rejuvenated Weapons School

We visit the German Air Force base at Laage to observe how the rejuvenated Weapons School course is seeing Eurofighter, Tornado and A400M aircrews working together for the first time

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INSIGHT: A new age for French Mirage 2000 training operations

Mirage 2000 pilot training is entering a new phase in its French Air and Space Force history, as we report

Spangdahlem F-16s deploy to Poland for ADR 21.3

USAF-operated Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcons and associated personnel from the 52nd FW’s 480th FS ‘Warhawks’ at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, have deployed to Łask AB, Poland, to participate in Aviation Detachment Rotation 21.3

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Norway receives another three F-35As

Three more Royal Norwegian Air Force-operated Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighters arrived in Norway on August 11, increasing the air arm’s fleet size to 31 aircraft

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First operational deployment for US Navy F-35Cs, CMV-22Bs

US Navy-operated Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning IIs assigned to VFA-147 ‘Argonauts’ and Bell Boeing CMV-22B Ospreys from VRM-30 ‘Titans’ have embarked on their first operational deployment as part of a Carrier Air Wing

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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