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.

Indonesia opts for more Dassault Rafales

A further 18 Dassault Rafale multi-role fighters have been ordered by the Indonesian Air Force in a deal confirmed on August 10

USAF’s ‘Spads’ set to relinquish F-16C/Ds for F-35As

The USAF’s 457th Fighter Squadron ‘Spads’ – a component of Air Force Reserve Command – is preparing to relinquish its F-16C/D Fighting Falcons for the F-35A Lightning II, after operating the former for more than 30 years

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US approves transfer of first F-16s to Ukraine

The US government has given permission for the Netherlands and Denmark to donate a number of F-16AM/BM (MLU) Fighting Falcons to Ukraine

Pentagon considers changes to DC National Guard

The US DOD is reportedly developing plans to restructure the DC National Guard. The moves are intended to address issues that were highlighted by the response to the post-election riots that occurred in Washington DC on January 6, 2021, following the Presidential election and another incident that occurred in 2020

325th FW welcomes first USAF F-35As to Tyndall AFB

The 325th Fighter Wing has formally welcomed its first four F-35As to Tyndall AFB in Florida, where some 78 examples of the fifth-generation fighter will eventually equip three projected fully combat-capable Lightning II squadrons

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Final report into UK F-35B crash raises broader operational safety concerns

Almost two years after an F-35B Lightning II assigned to the RAF’s No 617 Squadron ‘The Dambusters’ plunged into the Mediterranean following an aborted take-off attempt from HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK MOD has released a final report of its investigation into the incident, highlighting concerns regarding safety and security aboard the Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier during its first operational cruise

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Why Rogachevo Air Base is key to Russian military operations in the Arctic

Alexander Mladenov looks at the prospects of further development of Rogachevo Air Base on Novaya Zemlya archipelago – key to airspace control over the Western sector of the strategically important Northern Sea Route in the frigid High North of Russia

Greece receives tenth upgraded F-16 ‘Viper’

The Hellenic Air Force has welcomed the arrival of its tenth F-16V Fighting Falcon, following the multi-role fighter’s upgrade from the F-16C/D Block 52+/52M-standard to the new, more advanced ‘Viper’ configuration

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Penultimate batch of F-15QA Ababil fighters head to Qatar

The penultimate batch of F-15QA Ababil multi-role fighters for the Qatar Emiri Air Force arrived at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, UK, on July 31 for a three-day stopover at the British base while on their delivery flight to Qatar

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Indian Navy opts for Rafale over F/A-18E/F to replace Fulcrum fleet

New Delhi has formally announced the selection of the Rafale Marine (M) multi-role fighter to replace the Indian Navy’s ageing Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29K/KUB Fulcrum-D fleet, marking a major export boost for Dassault Aviation and another loss for Boeing’s continued push to sell more F/A-18E/F Super Hornets

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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