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.

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French Mirage 2000-5Fs deploy for fifth Baltic Air Policing mission

For the fifth time since the initiative’s inception in 2004, Mirage 2000-5Fs from the French Air and Space Force have once again deployed to Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania, where they will support NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission from December 1

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USMC’s legacy Hornet-equipped ‘Silver Eagles’ stand down

The USMC moved another step closer to phasing out its legacy Hornet fleet on November 9, when Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 (VMFA-115) was deactivated at MCAS Beaufort in South Carolina

Location selected for Slovak F-16 pilot training

Slovak Air Force pilots will train to fly the F-16C/D Block 70 Fighting Falcon with the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, the USAF announced on November 15

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Poland conducts highway landing ops for first time in two decades

For the first time in 20 years, the Polish Air Force has conducted landings and take-offs using a public road. Bartosz Głowacki reports on the action from beside the highway airstrip

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USAF's third F-15EX Eagle II takes flight ahead of delivery

Boeing completed the first flight of the third F-15EX Eagle II for the USAF on October 27, some ten weeks after the new fighter was rolled off the assembly line. That day, two sorties were flown from the firm’s facility at St Louis Lambert International Airport in St Louis, Missouri

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Israel scores F-35's first confirmed cruise missile kill

An Israeli Air Force-operated F-35I Adir (or ‘Mighty One’) has been credited with scoring the type’s first known air-to-air kill against a cruise missile on October 31, probably using an AIM-9X Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile to achieve this feat

Omega KDC-10 tanker refuels deployed USAF F-16Cs in new first

The USAF recently conducted the first commercial air-to-air refuelling of F-16C Fighting Falcon fighters while supporting a deployment in the Indo-Pacific theatre

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Canadian Hornet fleet deemed ‘not credible’ as it suffers instructor shortage

A report by the UK-based RUSI – commissioned by the Canadian Department of National Defence – was leaked to The Globe and Mail newspaper, revealing that its author, Professor Justin Bronk, had assessed that Canada’s CF-188A/B Hornet fighter fleet may be unable to meet its commitments, judging that it was “not credible in a NATO context against many of the higher-end mission sets”

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Ukrainian Su-24s destroy Russian corvette in Crimean shipyard strike

Late in the afternoon of November 4, the Ukrainian Air Force-operated Su-24M Fencer-Ds equipped with UK/French-supplied Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG air-launched cruise missiles struck yet another blow against a high-value target in the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula

US Navy clears Super Hornet fleet to wield StormBreaker

In what is a major development milestone, the US Navy has now cleared its frontline F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet to carry and deliver the Raytheon GBU-53/B StormBreaker – formally known as the Small Diameter Bomb Increment II (SDB II) – operationally

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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