In the early 1980s, the then-Soviet Union unveiled the MiG-29 fighter which was meant to counter the newest American fighters being developed at the time. Over the following decades, the MiG-29 was steadily developed and upgraded. Within the last few years, the Russian air force has finalized testing and development of the latest MiG fighter, known as the MIG-35 FULCRUM-F. This particular aircraft looks similar to the older Mig-29 but looks can be deceiving.
The SUKHOI SU-30 is classified as a long-range, all-weather heavy fighter – and they do mean heavy. This plane empty weighs in at over 40,000lbs which is 16,000lbs more than the MiG-35. Don’t let this fool you, however. The Su-30 is extremely maneuverable and can often be seen performing high-g maneuvers at airshows. One such maneuver includes the ‘cobra’ which flips the speeding Su-30 completely vertical before tipping back over to continue forward.
In the 1970s, the Soviet Union unveiled the MiG-25. Nicknamed the Foxbat, this plane was one of the fastest in the world and was built to intercept any supersonic American bombers and spy planes which were being developed at the time. Unfortunately, while the Foxbat was fast, it was also heavy and as maneuverable as a beached-whale. The answer was the MiG-31 Foxhound, introduced in the early 1980s.
Like the Su-30, the Su-35 is a derivative of the Su-27 fighter. This new single-seat air superiority fighter shares many characteristics with previous Sukhoi fighters but implements a number of improvements to avionics, aerodynamics, range and engine power.
In comparison with the previous Russian Sukhoi fighters, the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet is a relative lightweight at ‘only’ 32,000lbs. Based on the McDonald Douglas F-18 Hornet introduced in the 1980s, as you’d expect, the Super Hornet is bigger and improved in every area. To begin, the plane’s fuselage and wings are larger to accommodate more equipment and weaponry and future-proof the Super Hornet so it can take on newer systems as they are developed. The increase in size also allows for more fuel to be carried which means the new F-18 has around 35% greater range than its older counterpart. Its two engines put out 22,000lb of thrust and help the Super Hornet achieve a speed of Mach 1.8.
The Swedish Gripen (Griffin) is similar to the Super Hornet in that it is meant to be a multi-role fighter. Built by Saab, the Griffen stands out from the previous entries on this list because it is a small fighter, weighing a mere 15,000lbs empty and powered by a single engine which puts out up to 18,000lbs of thrust.
The Rafale is a twin engine canard delta wing fighter which was built for the French Air Force and entered service in 2001. Much of the plane’s technology is domestically developed, including the radar and infrared tracking system.
What happens when you bring together three of Europe’s biggest aircraft design and manufacturing companies? You get the . Entering service in 2003, the Typhoon is the result of cooperation between BAE, Airbus and Alenia Aermacchi.
This latest fifth generation stealth fighter has just started being delivered to units for training and testing. If you’ve followed any sort of news feeds over the last few years you know the F-35 has been a lightning rod for criticism and debate. In large part this is because the fighter’s development and build costs have ballooned massively and delays in delivery have increased.
At top spot on our list is the first true fifth generation fighter to enter service in the world, the Lockheed Martin F-22. This single seat, twin-engine all-weather fighter entered service in 2005 and has set the bar to which countries like Russia and China have been trying to achieve. While much of the F-22’s systems and performance remain classified, it is reported that this plane’s two engines can produce more than 35,000lbs of thrust each, enabling the Raptor to achieve speeds in excess of Mach 2.2.
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