From world wars to most recent wars, fighter aircraft have been playing a decisive role in the battleground. And in the 21st century, when countries across the world are trying to display their military clout, fighter jets could decide the fate of a war.
The most important characteristics of a fighter aircraft are speed, maneuverability, and small size relative to other combat aircraft. Today’s supersonic jets can fly at more than 1,000 miles per hour and are capable of dropping heavy bombs, including nuclear ones.
F-35 Lightning II
The F-35 Lightning II is a single-seat, single-engine military strike fighter. The F-35 combines the 5th Generation characteristics of radar evading stealth, supersonic speed and extreme agility with the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history.
The F/A-22 Raptor is a fifth generation stealth fighter aircraft, which entered the United States Air Force as the F-22A.
F/A-22 Raptor is manufactured by Lockheed-Martin and Boeing with a speed of Mach 2 class with supercruise capability. It is armed with one M61A2 20-millimeter cannon with 480 rounds and can carry six radar-guided AIM-120C advanced medium-range A2A missiles in its main weapon bay.
The Sukhoi PAK FA is a twin-engine jet fighter being developed by Sukhoi for the Russian Air Force. It is a fifth generation jet and is still in advanced phase of development. The T-50 will be the newest main plane both for the Russian and Indian Air Force.
The MiG-35 is classified as a 4++ generation jet fighter by Mikoyan. It is equipped with one 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon with 150 rounds, eight weapons pylons for R-27, R-60, R-73, R-77, TV and Laser-Guided Air to Ground missiles and bombs. In addition, the aircraft can also carry up to 2,000 lb of bombs.
The fighter aircraft was unveiled at the Aero India 2007 air show in Bangalore. It has been fully developed, but has still not entered service.
Eurofighter Typhoon is one of the world’s most advanced new generation multi-role/swing-role combat aircraft. The Eurofighter is the product of a consortium of British Aerospace, Deutsche Aerospace (Germany), Alenia (Italy), and CASA (Spain), with the United Kingdom and Germany providing technological leadership.
It has a Mach 2.25 maximum cruise speed. This jet fighter is designed to carry one 27 mm Mauser BK-27 cannon, AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-132 ASRAAM, AIM-120 AMRAAM and IRIS-T air-to-air missiles, AGM-84 Harpoon, AGM-88 HARM, ALARMs, Storm Shadow, Brimstone, Taurus and Penguin air-to-ground missiles, bombs and LITENING pod laser designator.
Chengdu J-20, which is in advanced phase of development, is supposed to be a fifth-generation, stealth, twin-engine fighter aircraft. It is being developed by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group for the Chinese People`s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).
It is expected to join the Chinese Air Force by 2019.
Designed by Russia, Su-47 is yet to enter into service. It is considered as the best fighter jet in the Eastern hemisphere. The Sukhoi Su-47 can carry one 30 mm GSh-30 cannon with 150 rounds and twelve wing and fuselage stations for up to 18,080 lb of ordnance.
It has a maximum speed of Mach 2.09.
The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine delta-wing fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Rafale can carry payloads of more than 9t on 14 hard points for the Air Force version, with 13 for the naval version. Besides this, it has a twin gun pod and a Nexter (formerly Giat) 30mm DEFA 791B cannon, which can fire 2,500 rounds a minute. The Rafale is also equipped with laser designation pods for laser guidance of air-to-ground missiles.
France and India are in the final stages to finalise the deal of 126 Dassault Rafale aircraft for the Indian Air Force.
Saab JAS 39 Gripen
The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a lightweight single-engine multirole fighter manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab. Gripen is the first of the new generation, multi-role fighter aircraft to enter operational service. It is capable of performing an extensive range of air-to-air, air-to-surface and reconnaissance missions employing the latest weapons.
The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is jointly developed by Russia`s Sukhoi and India`s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF). At present India has 190 Su-30MKIs and it plans to have a fleet of 272 by 2015.
F/A-18 Hornet is a twin-engine supersonic, all-weather, carrier-capable multirole fighter jet. It has a top speed of Mach 1.8. The Super Hornet has 11 weapon stations and supports a full complement of smart weapons, including laser-guided bombs. It also carries a full spectrum mix of air-to-air and air-to-ground ordnance.
The B2 Spirit is a multi-role stealth bomber which is capable of dropping conventional and nuclear weapons. It has a maximum speed of Mach 0.92.
The bomber has a crew of two and can carry 80,000 lb payload including 16 B61/b83 nuclear bombs, 80 Mk82 1,000 lb bombs or 16 Mk84 2,000 lb bombs, 36 M117 750 lb fire bombs, 36 cluster bombs, or 80 Mk36 1,000 lb sea mines. The B-2 is the only aircraft that can carry large air-to-surface standoff weapons in a stealth configuration.