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 welcomes second batch of F-15EX Eagle IIs

Delivery of the second batch of new F-15EX Eagle II fighters to the USAF got underway on December 20, when two examples of the type arrived at Eglin AFB in Florida following a ferry flight from Boeing’s production facility at St Louis Lambert International Airport in Missouri

News Freemium

Spain offers second-hand Eurofighters to Colombia

The Colombian Air Force received a new Eurofighter Typhoon proposal from the Spanish government in early December, with the proposed deal reportedly covering the supply of between 12-16 second-hand Tranche 2 Eurofighters from the Spanish Air and Space Force

Feature Freemium

Paveway and Litening: Key to the RAF Typhoon Force's successful strikes in Yemen

Alan Warnes explains how the RAF Typhoon FGR4s were capable of striking targets in Yemen – more than 1,500 miles (2,500km) away from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus – with pin-point accuracy

News Freemium

US, UK strike Houthi targets in Yemen in retaliation to Red Sea shipping attacks

The US and UK – with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands – carried out joint retaliatory strikes on more than 60 targets at 16 different Houthi facilities across Yemen on January 12, with the aim of degrading the Iran-backed militant group from continuing their illegal attacks on multinational shipping vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden

News Freemium

USAF to replace Kadena's outgoing legacy Eagles with F-15EXs?

The USAF is reportedly considering a plan to permanently replace the legacy F-15C/D Eagle fighters assigned to the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, with a smaller number of new F-15EX Eagle IIs

News Freemium

US, Singapore plotting to base F-15SG Strike Eagles on Guam?

The USAF is assessing proposed infrastructure improvements at Andersen AFB, which would permit the basing of up to 12 Republic of Singapore Air Force-operated F-15SG Strike Eagle multi-role fighters and their relevant mission support infrastructure in Guam – a US island territory in the western Pacific Ocean

News Freemium

Croatia’s Cold War-era MiG-21 fighter fleet enters twilight months of service

As originally planned, the Croatian Air Force is set to begin retiring its aging fleet of Cold War-era MiG-21 Fishbed fighters in the coming months, with the type being replaced by a fleet of second-hand Dassault Rafale B/Cs

Checkered Flag brings Tyndall-based F-35As closer to combat readiness

The 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall AFB, Florida, is well into its transition from an air dominance training and F-22A conversion mission towards being a fully combat-capable fighter wing equipped with more than 70 F-35A Lightning IIs and this was furthered during Exercise Checkered Flag 24-1

Belgian ‘Vipers’ intercept Russian Su-30s over the Baltic

Belgian F-16AM/BM (MLU) Fighting Falcons were launched from Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, to intercept Russian fighter aircraft over the Baltic Sea on December 6 – within one week of the Belgian Air Force taking over the lead of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission

Feature Premium

Iran agrees to buy Su-35SEs and Mi-28NMEs from Russia

​In a dramatic announcement on November 28, the Iranian Defense Minister, Brig Gen Mohammad Reza Gharaei Ashtiani, said the agreement between Iran and Russia over the procurement of Su-35SE Flanker-E multi-role fighters for the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force was back on, but added that the nation will also be acquiring Mi-28NME Havoc attack helicopters for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Army Aviation

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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