Air power is an indispensable aspect in any nation’s security apparatus. Countries like India 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.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 avionicsPrimary 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. Crew: One 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 capabilityRange: 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 (about Rs 643 crore)Click on NEXT for MORE…
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 leadershipFunction: Multi-role fighterCrew: 1Engines: 2 Eurojet EJ200 afterburning turbofans, 60 kN dry, 93 kN with afterburnerMaximum speed: Mach 2.0+ (2390 km/h at high altitude)Supercruise speed: Mach 1.3+ at altitude with typical air-to-air armamentService ceiling: 18,290 m (60,000 ft)Range: 1390 kmArmament: 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.
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 milesMission 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 1.8Combat 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 (about Rs 180 crore)
Role: Fighter/attack/reconaissanceCrew: 1Wingspan (including Launchers): 8.4mCeiling: 50,000ft Maximum Speed: Supersonic at all altitudesEngine: 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 (about Rs 182 crore)
The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engined delta-wing agile multi-role 4.5-generation jet fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault AviationPrimary Function: Multi-role fighter / reconnaisanceCrew: Single or twin seaterPowerplant: Two SNECMA M88-3 turbofans each rated at 19,555 lb (86.98 kN) with afterburningSpeed: Maximum level speed ‘clean’ at 36,090 ft (11000 m) 1,321 mph (1,147 kt / 2125 km/h)Ceiling: 60,000 ftRange: 1000 nautical milesArmament: 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 (about Rs 384 crore)
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 seaterEngines: The Su-30MKI is powered by the two AL-31FP turbofans, employing AL-100 vectoring nozzleCeiling: 17,500 m (57,415 ft) Endurance: 10 hoursMax Range: 3,000 km (1,620 nm) Top Speed: 664 mps (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 (about Rs 164 crore)
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 fighterCrew: 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 afterburningSpeed: 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 (about Rs 126 crore), C/D models $29.9 million (about Rs 135 crore)
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 fighterCrew: 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-100/129Speed: 1,500 mph (Mach 2 at altitude)Ceiling: Above 50,000 feet Range: Over 2,100 nautical milesArmament: 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 podsUnit Cost: F-16A/B: $14.6 million (about Rs 65.7 crore), F-16C/D: $18.8 million (about Rs 84.6 crore)
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 fighterCrew: OnePowerplant: Two Klimov/Sarkisov RD-33 turbofans at 18,298 afterburning pounds of thrust eachSpeed: Mach 2.3 (1,520 mph)Ceiling: 55,775 ft (17,000 m)Range: 932 miles (810 nm/1500 km) with internal fuelArmament: 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-14Unit Cost: $29 million (about Rs 130.5 crore).
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 fighterCrew: 1Powerplant: 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 altitudeCombat 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 bombsUnit Cost: 190m yuan ($27.84m or about Rs 125 crore)