Air power is an indispensable aspect in any nation’s security apparatus. Countries like India, China are today aggressively pushing forward with plans to build a robust air force, arming themselves with tech-loaded aircraft.
Let’s take a look at some of the best fighter aircraft around the world today.
F 22 Raptor
As the world’s only operational fifth-generation fighter, the F-22 Raptor is, and will remain, unprecedented in its total integration of stealth and advanced avionics
Primary Function: Air dominance, multi-role fighter
Contractor: Lockheed-Martin, Boeing
Power Plant: Two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners and two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles.
Fuel Capacity: Internal: 18,000 pounds (8,200 kilograms); with 2 external wing fuel tanks: 26,000 pounds (11,900 kilograms)
Speed: Mach 2 class with supercruise capability
Range: More than 1,850 miles ferry range with 2 external wing fuel tanks (1,600 nautical miles)
Ceiling: Above 50,000 feet (15 kilometers)
Armament: One M61A2 20-millimeter cannon with 480 rounds, internal side weapon bays carriage of two AIM-9 infrared (heat seeking) air-to-air missiles and internal main weapon bays carriage of six AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-air loadout) or two 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAMs and two AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-ground loadout)
Unit Cost: $143 million
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
Function: Multi-role fighter
Engines: 2 Eurojet EJ200 afterburning turbofans, 60 kN dry, 93 kN with afterburner
Maximum speed: Mach 2.0+ (2390 km/h at high altitude)
Supercruise speed: Mach 1.3+ at altitude with typical air-to-air armament
Service ceiling: 18,290 m (60,000 ft)
Range: 1390 km
Armament: The Eurofighter carries NATO’s best weapons. It has a high load Capacity with flexible missile configurations. It has thirteen carriage points, three of which are capable of holding external fuel tanks. The maximum fuel or weapons payload is 6,500 kg (14,330 lb.).
A mixture of at least 10 ASRAAMs (advanced short range air-to-air missiles) and AMRAAM (advanced medium range air-to-air missiles) can be carried with four of the AMRAAMs housed in low drag, low observability fuselage stations. A wide variety of air-to-surface weapons can be carried on seven stations, including avionics stores such as laser designators.
F/A 18 Hornet
The F/A-18 Hornet is a supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole fighter jet, designed to dogfight and attack ground targets (F/A for Fighter/Attack).
Contractor: Boeing [McDonnell Douglas Aerospace] and Northrop Grumman (Airframe), General Electric (Engines), and Hughes (Radar)
Power Plant: Two F404-GE-402 afterburning engines, each in the 18,000 pound thrust class, which results in a combat thrust-to-weight ratio greater than 1-to-1. Depending on the mission and loading, combat radius is greater than 500 nautical miles
Mission and Capabilities: The F/A-18 Hornet can perform both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. Cockpit displays and mission avionics are thoroughly integrated to enhance crew situational awareness and mission capability in high threat, adverse weather/night environments. Cockpits are night vision goggle compatible. Multi-sensor Integration and advanced data link capabilities further enhance situational awareness.
Seating capacity/crew options: Model F/A-18C: one-seat (pilot-only); Model F/A-18D: two-seats (one for the pilot and one for the weapons/sensor officer [WSO])
Top speed: Mach 1.8
Combat radius: 500+ nm (900+ km)
Armament: F/A-18C/D can carry up to 13,700 pounds of external ordnance. Weapon stations include two wingtip stations for Sidewinders, two outboard wing stations for air-to-air or air-to-ground weapons, two inboard wing stations for fuel tanks, air-to-air, or air-to-ground weapons, two nacelle fuselage stations for AMRAAMs, Sparrows, or sensor pods; and one centreline station for fuel or air-to-ground weapons.
Unit cost: $39.5 million
Saab JAS 39 Gripen
The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a light-weight single engine multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab. The aircraft is in service with the Swedish Air Force, the Czech Air Force, the Hungarian Air Force and the South African Air Force, and has been ordered by the Royal Thai Air Force.
Wingspan (including Launchers): 8.4m
Maximum Speed: Supersonic at all altitudes
Engine: The RM12engine, supplied by Volvo Aero, is a development of the GE F404 engine from General Electric. A digital engine control system automatically monitors the engine parameters and automatically switches on the back-up systems if required. A condition monitoring system registers the flight data.
Armament: The Gripen has seven external hardpoints for carrying payloads – one at each wingtip, two under each wing and one on the fuselage centreline. The Sidewinder, mounted on the wingtips, is an all-aspect attack, short-range missile for enhanced dogfight capability. Air-to-surface missiles include the radar-guided Saab RBS15F anti-ship missile and Raytheon Maverick missile. The internally mounted 27mm Mauser high-energy gun can operate in an automatic radar-guided aiming mode. The stand-off dispenser is the DWF39 from EADS (formerly DaimlerChrysler Aerospace) and Bofors.
Unit cost: $40.61 million
The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engined delta-wing agile multi-role 4.5-generation jet fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation
Primary Function: Multi-role fighter / reconnaisance
Crew: Single or twin seater
Powerplant: Two SNECMA M88-3 turbofans each rated at 19,555 lb (86.98 kN) with afterburning
Speed: Maximum level speed ‘clean’ at 36,090 ft (11000 m) 1,321 mph (1,147 kt / 2125 km/h)
Ceiling: 60,000 ft
Range: 1000 nautical miles
Armament: Cannon: 1 30mm DEFA 554; Mica missile, R 550 Magic 2 missile, BGL 400 (French counterpart to the American Paveway laser guided bombs)
Unit Cost: $82.3 million
The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is a variant of the Sukhoi Su-30 jointly-developed by Russia’s Sukhoi Corporation and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Indian Air Force. It is a heavy class, long-range air superiority fighter which can also act as a multirole, strike fighter aircraft.
Crew: Two seater
Engines: The Su-30MKI is powered by the two AL-31FP turbofans, employing AL-100 vectoring nozzle
Ceiling: 17,500 m (57,415 ft)
Endurance: 10 hours
Max Range: 3,000 km (1,620 nm)
Top Speed: 1317 mph (Mach 2)
Armament: Main gun is 30 mm caliber. The combat load is mounted on 12 stations. The maximum advertised combat load is 8000 kg. Over 70 versions of guided and unguided weapon stores, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, may be employed which allows the aircraft to fly the most diverse tactical missions.
Unit Cost: $36.55 million
The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat.
Primary Function: Tactical fighter
Crew: One (F-15A/C), two (F-15B/D/E)
Powerplant: Two P&W F100 turbofan engines in 29,000 lb (13,154 kg) thrust class with afterburning
Speed: 1,875 mph (Mach 2.5 plus)
Ceiling: 65,000 feet
Range: 3,450 miles ferry range with conformal fuel tanks and three external fuel tanks
Armament: One internally mounted M-61A1 20mm 20-mm, six-barrel cannon with 940 rounds of ammunition; four AIM-9L/M Sidewinder and four AIM-7F/M Sparrow air-to-air missiles, or eight AIM-120 AMRAAMs, carried externally.
Unit Cost: A/B models $27.9 million, C/D models $29.9 million
F-16 Fighting Falcon
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. It provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations.
Primary Function: Multirole fighter
Crew: One (F-16C) / Two (F-16D)
Powerplant: F-16C/D: one Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-200/220/229 or one General Electric F110-GE-100/129
Speed: 1,500 mph (Mach 2 at altitude)
Ceiling: Above 50,000 feet
Range: Over 2,100 nautical miles
Armament: One M-61A1 20mm multibarrel cannon with 500 rounds; external stations can carry up to six air-to-air missiles, conventional air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions and electronic countermeasure pods
Unit Cost: F-16A/B: $14.6 million, F-16C/D: $18.8 million
The MiG-29 Fulcrum is Russia’s most important tactical fighter. Developed in the 1970s by the Mikoyan design bureau, it entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1983, and remains in use by the Russian Air Force as well as in many other nations, including India.
Primary Function: Multi-role fighter
Powerplant: Two Klimov/Sarkisov RD-33 turbofans at 18,298 afterburning pounds of thrust each
Speed: Mach 2.3 (1,520 mph)
Ceiling: 55,775 ft (17,000 m)
Range: 932 miles (810 nm/1500 km) with internal fuel
Armament: One 30mm GSh-301 cannon with 150 rounds, Six AAMs, including a mix of SARH and AA-8 Aphid (R60), AA-10 Alamo (R27T), AA-11 Archer, (R73), FAB 500-M62, FAB-1000, TN-100, ECM Pods, S-24, AS-12, AS-14
Unit Cost: $29 million
The J-10 is a fourth-generation multi-role fighter, produced by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Co. (CAC). The secretive Chinese programme started in the late 1980s, and is reportedly based on the Israeli Lavi fighter, Israels attempt to develop its own F-16.
Primary Function: Multi-role fighter
Powerplant: 1x Lyulka-Saturn AL-31FN turbofan, rated at 79.43 kN dry, 122.58 kN with afterburning (17,857 lbf, 27,557 lbf)
Maximum speed: Mach 1.2 at sea level; Mach 2.0 at altitude
Combat radius: 550 km (300 nm, 340 mi)
Maximum range: 1,850 km (1,000 nm, 1,150 mi)
Service ceiling: 18,000 m (59,055 ft)
Armament: Guns: 1 23 mm internal cannon; Hardpoints: 11 – 3 under each wing and 5 under the fuselage; Missiles: air-to-air (PL-8, PL-11, PL-12, R-73, R-77), air-to-surface (YJ-9, YJ-9K); Bombs: laser-guided and unguided bombs
Unit Cost: 190m yuan ($27.84m)