The first fighter jet is widely regarded to be the Messerschmitt Me 262, a heavily armed and advanced military aircraft that was ahead of anything the Allied forces had to offer during World War II. It arrived too late to swing the tide of the war in favor of the Germans but was still responsible for knocking down over 500 aircraft. It ushered in a new age of aerial warfare, one that’s now gone through various stages of evolution with the aircrafts becoming more advanced and deadlier at every stage.
Here, we profile some of the most feared aircraft that are in active service today. Some of them are so formidable that they mostly serve as a deterrent force.
10/10 F-35 Lightning II
The F-35 Lightning II was many years late and billions of dollars over budget. In the end, though, Lockheed Martin was able to deliver a combat aircraft that’s arguably one of the most advanced in the current age.
It’s a single-seat, single-engine fighter jet that’s designed to function in a variety of roles ranging from air superiority missions to electronic warfare and reconnaissance. in 2018, the F-35 Lightning II was first deployed in combat by the Israeli Air Force and is currently in active service with countries including the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia.
9/10 Sukhoi Su-57
Russia’s recently unveiled a prototype of the Sukhoi Checkmate, the country’s answer to the American F-35. However, until, the Checkmate enters active service, the Sukhoi Su-57 remains at the apex of the Russian Airforce arsenal. It is a potent twin-engine aircraft that will prove a tough match for most aerial opponents.
It is the first Russian fighter jet to incorporate stealth into its design and is advanced enough to engage multiple targets at once, even while flying at speeds well in excess of Mach 2.
8/10 Chengdu J-20
This Chengdu J-20 is officially recognized as the third fifth-generation fighter jet to enter active service, after the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II. It is also referred to as the Mighty Dragon, and for good reason too.
The aircraft houses weapon bays that can be armed with a combination of long- and short-range missiles. It is also fitted with external hard points for additional weapons where necessary. It however lacks a cannon, implying that it was not designed for close-in dogfights.
7/10 F-15 Fighting Eagle
The imperious F-15 Eagle may not be the latest but it is certainly one of the most well-known fighter aircraft in the world today. It is hard to imagine that it was introduced over 4 decades ago, in 1976. Since then, there have been multiple variants that have been adapted for use by different American military branches and other countries.
The aircraft has seen extensive combat deployments in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen. Today, it remains in active service with countries like the United States, Israel, and Japan.
6/10 Eurofighter Typhoon
The Eurofighter Typhoon was the result of an extensive collaborative effort between the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The uniquely-styled aircraft was deliberately designed to be aerodynamically unstable in flight, making it extremely agile in dogfights.
In 2011, it got its first taste of combat during the Libyan conflict where it carried out various reconnaissance and ground attack sorties. The Eurofighter Typhoon remains in active service today and has been continuously upgraded to keep up with the demands of the modern airforce.
5/10 Dassault Rafale
Dassault Aviation developed this single-engine multirole aircraft for the French Navy and Air Force but it’s since been exported to other countries like Egypt and Qatar, who were impressed by the aircraft’s aerial capabilities.
The Rafale first entered into service in 2001and was deployed in combat only a year later during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. One of its strengths lies in its ability to track up to 40 targets at the same time and launch missiles simultaneously, at 4 of them.
4/10 Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E
This Russian air-superiority fighter occupies the pinnacle of 4th-generation fighter aircraft technology and design. It is often regarded as one of the best aircraft for close-in aerial combat.
The Su-35 was a vast upgrade over the already impressive Su-27 fighter aircraft and carries a wide range of armament that makes it suitable for aerial combat or air-to-ground strikes. Its Mach 2.25 maximum speed puts it at par with the F-22 Raptor but ahead of others like the F-35 Lightning II and the F-15 Eagle.
3/10 F-16 Fighting Falcon
Like the F-15 Eagle, this is another highly popular fighter aircraft that has been in existence for over 4 decades now. It has seen service with several countries like Brazil, Turkey, Israel, Pakistan, and India.
It was initially developed for aerial combat roles but that has since been expanded to include other missions, transforming the F-16 into a capable multirole combat aircraft. The F-16 can be equipped to carry a wide range of missiles, rockets, bombs, and electronic counter-measures depending on the assigned task.
2/10 F-22 Raptor
The F-22 Raptor is the first of the fifth-generation aircraft; an aerial combat platform developed primarily around advanced stealth technology. The aircraft was designed with the ability to penetrate enemy defenses and successfully attack its assigned targets.
The aircraft’s strengths lie in its low radar cross-section and powerful weapons loadout. Many of its avionics remains a classified matter within the US military. The F-22 is one of the most expensive fighter aircraft ever built, with each one costing around $344 million, including research and development.
1/10 Saab JAS 39 Gripen
The Gripen is a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company, Saab AB. It is easily distinguishable by its large delta wings and canards that sweep backwards below the canopy.
According to reports, the small aircraft has the lowest operational cost of any modern fighter but it still packs one heck of a punch. It is one of the reasons why Sweden has been able to export the aircraft to at least 7 countries where they serve in various roles.