Fighters

Best Fighters

This is where I will write about many fighter planes, each argued to be the most advanced and “best” planes in the world. I will also write a bit about other planes which are not that far behind these. I am only writing about fighters, not bombers here. Soon I will make a page dedicated to bombers. I will try to use the facts that we, the public, can know to try and find out which one is the best, as well as giving information on them. I will be adding to and changing this page all the time.

Eurofighter Typhoon

efa-typhoon2.jpg

Picture of Eurofighter above came from http://www.warshipsifr.com/media/eurofighterTyphoon.jpg

The EFA (European Fighter Aircraft) program began in 1983, when the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain decided to work together to make a fighter aircraft which they would all use. France dropped out later, for various reasons (they wanted a fighter which they could use on their aircraft carriers, but the other countries needed something different. Also, France did not want the Eurofighter to interfere with their Dassault Mirage program). There were numerous disagreements between the countries about the project and Germany almost left the project in 1992, due to costs getting too high for them. But the countries agreed on making a simpler, slightly less advanced (therefore cheaper) Eurofighter and Germany stayed. Both the UK and Germany were given a 33% share of the project, Italy got 21% and Spain got 13%. Some Eurofighters have been sold to other countries (recently Saudi Arabia bought 72 of these beautiful planes).

I will probably do a whole post one day about the history of the Typhoon so keep a look out for it.

Today’s Eurofighter Typhoon is an extremely agile multi-role fighter jet (multi-role means that it can be used for several different types of missions, such as air to air and ground attack, each of which it does extremely well). It is said by some to be the most advanced fighter plane in the world, though it is argued whether the F-22 Raptor and MiG MFI and Su-35 are better (as you will see later on). Out of the three the Eurofighter is most cost effective.

The Eurofighter is aerodynamically unstable. This means that really, it shouldn’t fly. But it does, thanks to about 70 computers constantly working just to keep it in the air. But this is not a bad thing. Being aerodynamically unstable just makes it a lot more agile and it was actually done on purpose. Because of the Eurofighter’s amazing agility, it can get behind an enemy aircraft (the best position for shooting an enemy down) before the enemy gets behind the Eurofighter, so that it is an easy kill for the Eurofighter. Also, if an enemy is already behind it or in a threatening position, the Eurofighter can manoeuvre to become in the dominant position.

The Eurofighter can, as most of today’s fighters can, fly at supersonic speeds (speeds faster than the speed of sound). At high altitude, it can fly at speeds of over Mach 2 and at low altitude, speeds around Mach 1.2 . But there is something rather more special about the Eurofighter and speed. The Eurofighter can supercruise. This means that it can fly at supersonic speeds without using afterburner. Afterburner enables a jet to fly much faster, but it uses fuel up much more quickly and makes a lot more heat come out of the engines, making the jet much more of a target to heat-seeking missiles. It also makes a very bright light, making the jet more noticeable. Flying fast is important to be able to get into a superior position to the enemy before the enemy gets there. To be able to fly faster than the enemy, you have to be able to fly supersonic and most fighter jets can only achieve this by using afterburner. Not so with the Eurofighter which is able to keep a low profile and fly fast. It can fly up to Mach 1.3 without afterburner. Few other planes are capable of this

Another amazing thing about the Eurofighter is that it can perform aerobatic manoeuvres at supersonic speeds that other fighter jets could only perform at much lower speeds. It is the only plane in the world to be so agile at these speeds, with the exception of perhaps the F-22 Raptor, whose sustained turn rate is better, but the Eurofighter’s instantaneous turn rate is better than that of the F-22. The Eurofighter can withstand up to 9G (the pilot wears a special suit which allows him to cope with it) for sustained periods of time, unlike older planes such as the F-15 Eagle (also a very nice plane and a nearly unbeatable air superiority fighter), which can withstand 9G, but only for a few seconds.

Here are some interesting features about the Eurofighter:

• Carefree handling- this means that the Eurofighter knows its own limitations and what can damage the aircraft, such as too tight manoeuvres. The Eurofighter’s computers will adjust different things to make what is demanded from the pilot possible and if what is demanded will damage the aircraft, can limit the response to the pilot’s demand to keep the aircraft under control. This means that, unlike in older planes, where pilots had to know their own limitations and what to do and what not to do, a Eurofighter pilot can get the best performance out of his aircraft, while keeping all his attention concentrated on the enemy, without having to worry about the Eurofighter’s limits.

• Voice recognition- the Eurofighter can recognise up to about 200 commands spoken by the pilot.

• Sight-activated missile firing. The pilot wears a kind of helmet which enables him to just look at an enemy plane to lock on, enabling him to fire a missile at it when the enemy has only just seen him.

• Supercruise (explained above). Only very few planes can do this. Two other examples are the F-22 Raptor and the Saab JAS 39 Gripen.

• The Eurofighter actually does have some stealth characteristics, which make it less visible to radar, but for it to be as stealthy as an F-22, then the shape would have to be completely changed, making it perhaps less manoeuvrable and more expensive.

Have a look at these sites: http://www.eurofighter.com/

and http://www.eurofighter-typhoon.co.uk/

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Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor Advanced Tactical Fighter

 

Lockheed Martin is the main contractor of the F-22 Raptor. The F-22 Raptor is an air superiority fighter meant to replace the F-15 Eagle. Because of the cost of the Raptor, the US has kept the F-15 in service and added the F-22 Raptor as a supplement. The F-22 Raptor can be used for other roles but is, as stated above, mainly air superiority. It is one of the most advanced planes in the world along with the British/German/Italian/Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon and the Russian Su-35 and Su-47 Berkut. It is very manoevrable, largely thanks to thrust vectoring. This means that the F-22 can direct the nozzles out of which come the exhaust gases from the jet engines. Effectively, the F-22 is moving the thrust. This means that it doesn’t just move its ailerons to turn (like most planes do), but it also uses thrust vectoring, making it be able to turn very sharply. It works in the same way that it does on a Harrier Jump jet or an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, only not as extreme. On these planes, thrust vectoring actually enables them to take off and land vertically. Like the Eurofighter, the F-22 is aerodynamically unstable and can withstand 9G for sustained periods of time.

Another important feature the F-22 Raptor has is Stealth. This really brings up its chances of survival in combat. Enemy aircraft can only use heat-seeking missiles and guns against the F-22. They can only use radar guided missiles with great difficulty, if they can at all. It also means that the F-22 can sneak up behind enemy aircraft and shoot them down before the enemy even realised the F-22 was there. The F-22 is great in BVR (Beyond Visual Range) combat. It will see enemies on its radar while the enemy still has no idea the F-22 is there. The enemy will have to see the F-22 with their own eyes. The F-22 is a perfect example of new generation stealth. The F-117 Nighthawk is a stealth bomber (a very good one too). It uses materials which absorb radar signals and also has a very strange shape which deflects the signals away from enemy radar. This means that the F-117 is not very aerodynamic and the shape is not ideal. The F-22 does not need such a strange shape like this. It just absorbs the radar signals. Both the F-117 and the F-22 keep bombs and weapons inside, because they reflect radar signals well. The weapons are only exposed for a brief moment whilst a bomb is dropped.

The F-22 Raptor can supercruise (at speeds of over Mach 1.7). This is explained above, in the Eurofighter Typhoon section. Only very few planes can do this. Two other examples are the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Saab JAS 39 Gripen.

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Picture of F-22 above came from http://www.fas.org

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MiG MFI

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG MFI is a truly amazing prototype 5th generation jet. MFI stands for Mnogofounksionalni Frontovoi Istrebitel, meaning Multifunctional Frontline Fighter. The MiG MFI is not to be confused with the MiG 35. It is sometimes called the MiG 35, but this is now wrong because the designation was given to the improved version of the MiG 29. It is also known as the MiG Project 1.44/1.42, or the MiG 39. MiG claim that the MiG MFI will be able to outperform the British/German/Italian/Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon and the US F-22 Raptor. It is very similar to the F-22. It can supercruise, uses TVC (Thrust Vectored Control) and is stealthy. It can carry weapons internally as well as externally, to make it stealthier. Its primary function is Air Superiority, but it can be used for other roles too. At the moment, Russia (the main buyer of MiG aircraft) cannot afford the MiG, so there has never been a fight between a MiG MFI and a F-22 or a Eurofighter so we cannot know that it is better than the Eurofighter and F-22 for sure. (Even if Russia could afford it, it is extremely unlikely that there would be a fight between them any time soon anyway because that could cause immense problems). It is true that the MiG MFI is faster and can fly further without refuelling than the F-22 and Eurofighter, but whether it is better, we cannot know. What we can know for sure that the MiG MFI is a highly dangerous and advanced fighter.

mig-mfi.jpg

Picture of MiG MFI above came from http://www.aerospaceweb.org

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Sukhoi Su-35 “Super Flanker”

The Su-35 is a very advanced, super manoeuvrable fighter. Its primary user is Russia. There are two versions of the Su-35. The Su 35BM (BM for Big Modernisation) and the Su 35. The Su-35 is very manoeuvrable. It uses 2D thrust vectoring (thrust vectoring is explained in the F-22 section). The Su-35BM should be in use in a few years. The Su-35 already is. One of the major diferrences is that the Su-35BM does not have canards, because they give too much of a radar cross-section. The Su-35BM uses TVC (Thrust Vector Control) to enable it to perform outstanding maoeuvres. The F-22 uses TVC, but only 2D TVC. The Su-35BM uses 3D TVC. So the F-22 only has TVC in the pitch axis, whilst the Su-35BM has it in the pitch/yaw axis (on the F-22, the nozzles can move up and down, on the Su-35BM, they can move left and right). This makes the Sukhoi even more manoeuvrable than the F-22. In a dogfight, the Su-35BM’s amazing manoeuvrability is extremely useful as if it has an enemy plane on its tale, it can turn to position itself behind the enemy plane which will not be able to keep up with such a manoeuvre. The Su-35BM can turn on its own axis, without moving forward or losing altitude. I have seen videos of it, it is really impressive. It looks impossible. The Su-35BM can twist and turn like no other plane can (except one or two other Sukhois such as the Su-37, which is similar to the Su-35BM and Su-35. There is a bit of information on the Su-37 at the bottom of the Su-35 section). This manoeuvrability means that the Su-35BM can easily lock on to another plane. As well as the manoeuvrability, the Su-35BM has many complicated, very advanced systems making it a deadly opponent, as in the normal Su-35

The Su-37 is another very manoeuvrable plane, similar to the Su 35 and the Su-27 (the Su-27 is another Flanker. The Russian aerobatics team use it). It has 3D TVC.

These Sukhois can all supercruise, are aerodynamically unstable, have carefree handling etc. They are all very impressive at airshows.

su-37.jpg

Picture of Su-35 above came from http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com

su-37-manoeuvre.jpg

Picture of Su-37 above came from http://www.flymig.com

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Dassault Rafale

Born after France left what became the Eurofighter project (see Eurofighter Typhoon section), the Dassault Rafale is a truly remarkable fighter. In many ways, it is similar to the Typhoon. Just like the Typhoon, it is a multi-role fighter, very capable in air to air combat, both BVR and WVR, as well as for ground attack. It even looks quite similar to the Typhoon. Although most agree that the Typhoon is better for air to air combat, the Rafale is about as able as the Typhoon for ground attack. The major differences between the Rafale and Typhoon are that there is a variant of the Rafale (the Rafale Marine) that can operate on carriers and France is the only maker of the Rafale, whilst the Typhoon is a joint effort by Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The Rafale can barely supercuise, although, in the near future, an engine upgrade will allow it to supercuise up to Mach 1.4. The Rafale is also quite stealthy which is why the fuselage is the shape it is. However, the Rafale carries weapons on the outside, making it far more visible to radar than it would be if it did not carry weapons.

Below is from http://www.abovetopsecret.com

The Rafale carries an integrated electronic survival system named SPECTRA which features a software-based virtual stealth technology.

COMING SOON: OTHER EXCPETIONAL FIGHTER JETS, SUCH AS THE SAAB GRIPEN AND MAYBE MORE. AFTER THAT WILL COME “WHICH IS THE BEST FIGHTER?”

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