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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First Dutch ‘Vipers’ arrive in Romania for Ukrainian F-16 pilot training

As preparations continue to be made for the training of Ukrainian Air Force air/ground crews on the Fighting Falcon, the Royal Netherlands Air Force delivered the first batch of its F-16AM/BM (MLU) fighters to the newly established European F-16 Training Centre (EFTC) at the Romanian Air Force’s 86th Air Base in Borcea, Romania, on November 7

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Argentina moves to buy Norwegian Orions and Danish ‘Vipers’

The Argentine Air Force and Navy are being prepared for a major recapitalisation with the acquisition of four P-3C/N Orion maritime patrol aircraft from Norway and up to 38 F-16AM/BM (MLU) Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters from Denmark, after the respective deals were green lit by the US government on October 11

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Wake turbulence cited as cause of USAF F-35A crash at Hill AFB

Full details of the Accident Investigation Board report into the loss of USAF F-35A Lightning II (15-5197/HL) from the 388th FW's 421st FS 'Black Widows' at Hill AFB, Utah, on October 19, 2022, have now been published

F-16Cs return to USAF’s ‘Blacksnakes’ after 13-year absence

The Indiana ANG’s 122nd Fighter Wing celebrated the arrival of the first F-16C Block 40 Fighting Falcons for the 163rd Fighter Squadron ‘Blacksnakes’ on October 23

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Sweden open to sending Gripens to Ukraine after joining NATO

On October 6, Swedish Defence Minister Pål Jonson announced that a transfer of JAS 39C/D Gripen multi-role fighters to Ukraine could be on the cards, although “domestic security reasons” mean that any such transfer “would be conditional on Sweden first becoming a member of NATO,” and thus covered by NATO’s collective defence commitments

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ADEX 2023: KAI’s KF-21 Boramae makes public debut in South Korea

Korea Aerospace Industries and South Korea’s Defense Acquisition and Procurement Agency publicly showcased the developmental KF-21 Boramae multi-role fighter at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX) 2023, which was held from October 17-22

Russia welcomes additional Su-35S Flanker-E fighters

Russia’s state-owned Rostec State Corporation revealed on October 24 that a new batch of Su-35S Flanker-E fighters has been handed over to the Russian Ministry of Defence ahead of their upcoming transfer to the Russian Aerospace Forces

HMS Prince of Wales embarks on F-35B sea trials in the US

On October 11, a specially instrumented US Navy-operated F-35B Lightning II (168314/‘68’) landed aboard HMS Prince of Wales (R09) – the second of the Royal Navy’s two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers – thereby kicking off Developmental Test Phase 3 sea trials with the type on the warship

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Belgium agrees to send outgoing F-16s to Ukraine from 2025

Brussels has pledged that Belgium will in fact join Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands in transferring some of its outgoing F-16AM/BM (MLU) Fighting Falcon fighters to Ukraine, though the first of an undisclosed number of jets will not be handed over to Kyiv until 2025

Slovakia’s first F-16 Block 70 completes maiden flight

The first of 14 F-16C/D Block 70 Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters for Slovakia completed its maiden flight from Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Greenville, South Carolina, at approximately 0930hrs (local time) on September 29

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.

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