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.

Australia to sell Hornets to aggressor contractor

The Australian government has announced that it will sell up to 46 of its retired legacy F/A-18A/B Hornets to ‘Red Air’ combat training company, Air USA.

ANALYSIS: FARA in Focus

Khalem Chapman provides detailed insight into each contender in the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft – Competitive Prototype (FARA-CP) programme before the US Army narrows its selection down to just two concepts.

Germany approves Tornado HUD upgrade

The Budget Committee of the Deutschen Bundestages (the legislative arm of the German Parliament) has invested in digitising the head-up display (HUD) of the Luftwaffe’s (German Air Force’s) Panavia Tornado IDS/ECR fleet.

F-35 reaches new delivery, flight hour milestones

Lockheed Martin has announced that it – along with the F-35 Joint Program Office – has delivered its 500th F-35 Lightning II multirole stealth fighter, just after the fleet surpassed 250,000 flight hours.

Boeing unveils FARA contender

Boeing Defense has officially unveiled its offering for the US Army's Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) programme.

Safran provides FCAS engine details

French-based engine manufacturer, Safran, has released details about the powerplant that will be employed by the Système de Combat Aérien du Futur (SCAF/Future Combat Air System, FCAS).

Demonstrator phase launched for European FCAS

The French, German and Spanish governments have awarded the initial framework contracts (Phase 1A) to a consortium of companies, launching the demonstrator phase for the Système de Combat Aérien du Futur (SCAF, or Future Combat Air System – FCAS).

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Special Report: 'Felon' Down

The first series production Su-57 ‘Felon’ crashed last December shortly before it was to have been handed over to the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) for initial military evaluation.

Elbit Systems to provide TF/TA systems for KF-X

Israeli-based Elbit Systems has announced that it has been awarded a contract by Hanwha Systems to provide Terrain Following/Terrain Avoidance (TF/TA) systems for the South Korea's KF-X next generation fighter.

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Raptor: 15 Years on the Frontline - Part 2

Combat Aircraft Journal looks at the F-22’s service entry and how the USAF is working to ensure the fighter remains relevant into the future.

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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