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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France hands over first dual-seat Rafale fighter to Croatia

The first dual-seat Dassault Rafale B for the Croatian Air Force was officially handed over during a ceremony at Mont-de-Marsan Air Base (BA118) on October 2, which was attended by Croatian Defence Minister Mario Banožić and other high-ranking political and military personnel

Florida ANG F-15C/Ds take part in combined exercise in Colombia

Several F-15C/D Eagles from the 159th Fighter Squadron ‘Boxin’ Gators’ – a component of the Florida ANG’s 125th Fighter Wing – deployed to Palanquero, Colombia, on August 18 to participate in the combined exercise, Àngel de los Andes and Relámpago VIII

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South Korea axes F-35B acquisition plan to grow F-35A fleet?

Seoul has requested a government-to-government Foreign Military Sale for the purchase of 25 fifth-generation F-35A Lightning II fighters has been approved by the US State Department

USMC’s ‘Silver Eagles’ conclude final legacy Hornet deployment

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 (VMFA-115) ‘Silver Eagles’ departed MCAS Iwakuni in Japan on September 28, marking the conclusion of a six-month Unit Deployment Program tour in the Indo-Pacific region with Marine Aircraft Group 12 (MAG-12)

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UK MOD told to consider advantages of operating mixed F-35A/B fleet

The UK parliament’s Defence Select Committee was told that the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review set out plans for the UK to buy 138 F-35B Lightning IIs. As of May 1, 2023, the UK had taken delivered of 31 F-35Bs, with a total of 48 due to be delivered by the end of 2025 as part of an initial Tranche 1 order

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RAF urged to mothball Tranche 1 Typhoons instead of scrapping them

The RAF’s Tranche 1 Typhoon FGR4 fighters should be mothballed rather than scrapped, an influential group of British MPs have concluded in a new investigative report

USAF completes first phase of F-15EX integrated testing

The F-15EX Eagle II has completed the first phase of its hybrid developmental/initial operational test and evaluation programme, otherwise known as F-15EX Integrated Test and Evaluation, with the milestone being announced shortly after the fighter concluded its participation in the USAF’s Exercise Combat Hammer

F-15EX eyed as solution for Poland’s air dominance requirements

In light of the ongoing Ukraine-Russia War and in line with its newly inflated defence budget, Poland is actively evaluating the purchase of a fleet of F-15EX Eagle IIs through the US DOD’s Foreign Military Sales programme to meet its requirement for a new air dominance fighter, according to Boeing

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Belgium retires first F-16 from use after nearly 40 years of ops

The Belgium Air Force withdrew its first F-16AM (MLU) Fighting Falcon from operational use on September 8, after the multi-role fighter reached the 8,000 flight hour milestone

Indonesia presses forward with F-15EX Eagle II acquisition

Indonesia is set to become the first export customer for the F-15EX after a Memorandum of Understanding for the purchase of at least 24 Eagle II fighters was signed during a recent visit of Indonesia’s Minister of Defence Prabowo Subianto to the firm’s F-15 production line in St Louis, Missouri

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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