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.

India’s naval Tejas prototype completes carrier milestones

The naval prototype of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas – also known as the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) – has become the first Indian-made fighter aircraft to land and take-off from an aircraft carrier.

Rolls-Royce unveils Tempest engine technology details

Rolls-Royce, has unveiled the first details of the “world-first technology” that will be incorporated into the Tempest next-generation fighter aircraft.

US approves F-35B sale to Singapore

The US State Department has approved the possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of up to 12 Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) multi-role stealth fighters to Singapore.

India bids farewell to the MiG-27

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has retired its final Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-27ML UPG variable-geometry ground-attack aircraft, following a ceremony at Jodhpur Air Force Station, Rajasthan, on December 27.

First Eurofighter in Kuwaiti configuration takes flight

The first Kuwait-standard Eurofighter has taken to the air at Leonardo Aircraft Division’s flight-test centre at Turin-Caselle Airport, Italy.

South Korea declares F-35A IOC

The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) has officially declared initial operational capability (IOC) with its Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighters, according to local media sources.

French Air Force Rafale F3-R gains IOC

The Armée de l'Air (French Air Force) has declared initial operational capability (IOC) with its F3-R-standard Dassault Rafale multi-role fighter.

MBDA to integrate Meteor onto KF-X

European missile manufacturer, MBDA, has been contracted to integrate its Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) onto South Korea's future KF-X multirole fighter.

Draken's first renovated Mirage F1 takes flight

Draken International's first regenerated Dassault Mirage F1 performed its maiden flight at Lakeland Linder International Airport, Lakeland, Florida, on November 12.

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NATO’S Last Fitters

While the Su-22 swing-wing strike aircraft may be obsolescent by today’s standards, 35 years ago it provided Poland with a technological leap comparable only with its subsequent purchase of F-16 fighters.

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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