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Folland Gnat
The Gnat was designed by W.E.W. “Teddy” Petter, the same man who successfully planned the English Electric Canberra bomber and Lightning supersonic interceptor. In the 1950s, he realized that in the case of a major war, the economics behind mass-producing large, sophisticated aircraft were dubious. Thus was born the Gnat, stimulated by the issuing of Operational Requirement OR.303 by the British Air Ministry.

The Fo-139 Midge unarmed proof of concept aircraft was built as a private venture without funding from the British government. It was planned as more affordable through the use of new turbojet engines, and was based on key design elements, such as the wings and fuselage, conceived to require more affordable methods of construction than those of other fighters of the period.

On August 11, 1954 was the maiden flight of the Midge. Though underpowered by the incorrect engine, it proved a good flyer. Althoug the demonstrator crashed due to human error one year later, it did interest RAF officers as a trainer.

On July 18, 1955, the Gnat prototype, with enlarged inlets, larger wings, and two 30mm cannon emplacements, took flight. Six evaluation aircraft were ordered by the British Ministry of Supply. Though not ordered directly from Britain, the Gnat was purchased by Finland, Yugoslavia, and India. In India, it was produced under license by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

After Folland proposed a two seat trainer, 14 pre-production Gnat trainers were ordered in 1958 by the RAF. In total, 91 more trainers were delivered to Britain until 1965.

In Finland, the aircraft fell under severe criticism due to much maintenance caused by the harsh weather. Though found maneuverable in the air, the aircraft was in fact a headache on the ground. In 1972, the type was replaced by Saab 35 Drakens.

In India, the Gnat was used in the 1965 war and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. In the first war, it is credited for shooting down seven Pakistani Canadair Sabres. In the second war, notable dogfights against Sabres occurred again. In every case, the Gnat had the advantage as a lighter, more agile, and newer fighter, even against the aircraft known as the best doghfighter of the time. As such, it became known as the “Sabre Slayer”. To correct problems with hydraulics and control systems, a Gnat II, known as Ajeet, was therefore produced to the number of 175 units in Bangalore.

Characteristics
Max. takeoff weight: 9,040 lb (4,100 kg)
Maximum speed: 695 mph (mach 0.95) (1,120 km/h)
Range: 500 mi (800 km)
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Yakovlev-141 Freestyle
The Yakovlev-141 was meant to replace the Yakovlev-38 Forger, a subsonic aircraft of slightly less performance than its equivalent Western counterpart, the Harrier. These Soviet aircraft were designed for the air defense of the fleet, to be based on Kiev-class heavy aviation cruisers. The Kiev ships were designed as smaller fixed-wing aircraft carriers, as the project of building supercarriers such as those of the United States was considered less cost effective by the Soviet Navy.

One crucial improvement to the Forger’s design was the Yak-41’s ability to sustain continued supersonic flight. This, and other improvements, aimed at closing the gap between traditional jet fighters and Soviet VTOL-capable birds. Its engine layout was particular: three engines controlled its flight; two were dedicated to vertical takeoff and landing and were placed directly behind the cockpit, aiming directly towards the ground; the third, whose nozzle could pivot downwards, was in a classic layout and hung at the rear between the twin tail fins. Digitally controlled, these three engines, together with three swiveling yaw jets – one at the nose and one beneath each wingtip – kept the plane upright during vertical maneuvers.

A total of four prototypes were built, two of which were flyable. The first conventional flight, made by chief test pilot Sinitsyn at Zhukovskii, took place on 9 March 1987. The first hovering flight was performed on 29 December 1989, and the first complete transition from vertical to high-speed flight and back to a vertical landing was mode on 13 June 1990. In the year of 1991, date of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, development of the Yakovlev-141 ceased due to lack of funding. However, Lockheed Corporation, then in the process of developing the X-35 for the US Joint Strike Fighter program, did accept to fund Yakovlev $385 to $400 million for three new prototypes and an additional static test aircraft to test improvements in design and avionics.
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McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
The Eagle was McDonnell Douglas' response to the U.S. Air Force's need for an air superiority fighter in 1968. Since its first flight in 1972, the Eagle perpetrated 104 kills in the air superiority role without a single loss.

During the Vietnam War, fast and expensive fighters which were to rely on missiles had instead to approach smaller and cheaper MiG-15s and MiG-17s to identify the opposing aircraft and counteract the lacking effectiveness of missiles. F-4s retrofitted with guns finally fulfilled this role in the interim. However, to dogfight, it was discovered that power, more than speed, is important. Therefore, an aircraft with a 1:1 thrust ratio fully loaded, with a takeoff weight of no more than 40,000 pounds (18,000 kg), with low wing loading, and with a maximum speed of Mach 2.5 was requested.

From technical proposals offered by Fairchild Republic, North American Rockwell, and McDonnell Douglas, the U.S. Air Force selected McDonnell Douglas’ design as “the first dedicated USAF air superiority fighter since the North American F-86 Sabre.” 2,000 Eagles have since been built.

The F-15 was designed for a single pilot, a large forward-mounted canopy favouring visibility. Its high thrust-to-weight ratio allows it to accelerate in vertical flight. Its two pulse-Doppler radars (APG-63 and 70) can distinguish low-flying targets from ground clutter and effectively track enemy high-flying aircraft as well at a distance of 160 km.

The Eagle can be loaded with combinations of AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, or AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. It can also carry a variety of bombs for ground attack, and includes the M61 Vulcan gun for self-defence.

Israel is an important operator of the F-15, and has used it effectively in the Lebanon War against MiG-21s, MiG-23s, MiG-25s, and in long-distance ground strikes. The Eagle has also operated in the Gulf War, and additionally serves in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and in the Royal Saudi Air Force.

The Eagle is to remain operational past 2025, and is still in production until 2019. Because further production of the F-22 Raptor has been discontinued, the F-15 may remain in service longer than originally anticipated. The F-15 has been developed into different variants such as the F-15E Strike Eagle for ground attack and the stealthy F-15SE Silent Eagle.

Speed and Altitude
To demonstrate the Eagle’s acceleration capabilities, an F-15 stripped of paint and avionics broke eight time-to-climb world records in 1975. The F-15 can climb to 10 km in one minute.

Accidental Losses
Although no F-15 has been lost in aerial combat, 175 Eagles have been lost in non-combat accidents – 1 per 50,000 hours of flight.

Incidents
In 1990, a Saudi Arabian pilot defected to Sudan. Saudi Arabia paid $40 million for the aircraft to be returned.

In 1994, F-15s accidentally shot down two friendly Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in Iraq.

Characteristics
Max. takeoff weight: 68,000 lb (30,845 kg)
Maximum speed:
• High altitude: Mach 2.5+ (1,650+ mph, 2,665+ km/h)
• Low altitude: Mach 1.2 (900 mph, 1,450 km/h)
Combat radius: 1,061 nmi (1,222 mi, 1,967 km) for interdiction mission
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British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2
Following submissions in 1958, the Tactical Strike and Reconnaissance, Mach 2 (TSR-2) development contract was awarded to Vickers, with English Electric as a sub-contractor. It was envisioned as a low-flying strike aircraft capable of penetrating enemy territory at near Mach speeds below 200 ft and attacking using internal weaponry within a 1,000 nautical mile radius (1,900 km). It would also have the possibility of flying high and fast in a secondary reconnaissance role.

The TSR-2 was conceived without prototypes, nine airframes to be gradually corrected and retrofitted before full production. The first flight took place in September 1964; on the second, fuel pump vibration at the human eyeball's frequency obliged the pilot to throttle down. The landing gear only retracted on the 10th flight, then showed dangerous oscillation during lading -- making strengthened struts necessary.

This aircraft's capabilities were designed to target missile sites, airfield installations, supply depots, railways, and similar targets using tactical nuclear bombs. It was extremely advanced in its time, and much know-how and expenditure was put in its production. Its use would have given Britain the cutting edge aeronautically. For example, a forward looking radar and side-looking radar as used on the TSR-2 were not common until some years later. The TSR-2 was also an impressive airframe capable of dashing at Mach 2.35, and was said to compare to a Lightning in handling.

Nevertheless, development proved difficult, squabbling put the neccessity of this airplane in doubt, and costs mounted always upwards. The program was cancelled in 1965, and with it, Britain's occasion for the top tier in aeronautics. However, the program had proven too costly to the government, and all airframes except two were either scrapped or sent to the shooting range.

During its short existence, Australia manifested acute interest in purchasing the plane. Instead, in Australia as in Britain, the American F-111 was opposed as a cheaper alternative. Though the F-111 was not originally equal to the TSR-2, and proved to be a decade late and much pricier, there was no longer a viable alternative. In Britain, the SEPECAT Jaguar took on the corresponding role, later followed by the Panavia Tornado -- some of its avionics being derived from the TSR-2 project.

Characteristics
Maximum speed: Mach 2.35 at 40,000 ft/12,000 m
Range: 2,500 nmi (2,877 mi, 4,630 km)
Max. takeoff weight: 103,500 lb (46,980 kg)

#fighterPlane
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HAL Tejas
Since the 1970s, India depended mainly on the MiG-21 for the defense of its airspace. To replace that ageing aircraft, and to increase India's domestic aviation capability, the LCA program was begun in 1984.

The Aeronautical Development Agency was created to manage the LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) initiative. Its main partner was Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which had developed India’s first jet aircraft, the HF-24 Marut, in the 1960s. Unfortunately, Indian aeronautic development was hampered by political pressure because of its nuclear tests at Pokhran.

By 1989, Indian infrastructure, facilities, and technology were judged advanced enough to undertake the project. The first prototype flew in January 2001, piloted by Wing Commander Rajiv Kothiyal. By 2005, 20 production series aircraft were ordered, and again in 2010. However, production only began in 2013, the aircraft being introduced in the air force in January 2015.

The Tejas is designed in two main variants: one for the air force, and one for the navy. Together, both agencies’ requirements represent about 160 aircraft. It has also been reported that “India would also consider selling the planes to other friendly countries,” but only after being its being introduced into India’s own air force. Sri Lanka and Egypt have expressed interest.

The Tejas is designed in a tailless compound delta wing, and is conceived for relaxed static stability in flight, enhancing maneuverability. The tailless design increases payload capacity and confers better flight characteristics. The Tejas is composed of 45% carbon-fibre composites by weight, reducing the aircraft’s weight by 21%, removing 40% of the necessary parts, avoiding approximately 2 000 drilled holes, and shortening the manufacturing process by four months.

Although the Tejas’ primary purpose is air superiority, it is also a multirole fighter and includes ground attack and anti-ship capabilities. It is electronically assisted by a quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system, and has an on-board oxygen-generating system and aerial refuelling probe for extended flights. The Tejas also features certain stealth characteristics such as radar-absorbent coating, a Y-shaped inlet, and the use of radar nonreflective composites.

Characteristics
Max. takeoff weight: 13,500 kg (29,100 lb)
Maximum speed: Mach 1.8 (2,205 km/h) for final version; Mach 1.6 (2,000 km/h) for initial version
Range: 3,000 km (1,620 nmi, 1,864 mi)
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Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
In 2001, out of the competing Boeing X-32 and Lockheed Martin X-35 prototypes, the X-35 design was selected as having the best potential for the United States and the United Kingdom. But because the prototype did not include weapons bays, a redesign caused weight problems and cost overruns of $6.2 billion and took 18 months to overcome. This would be the first of many setbacks with the program.
To honour both the U.S. Air Force warbird Lockheed P-38 Lightning and the English Electric Lightning of the Royal Air Force, the new aircraft was named Lightning II in 2006.
 
To save on costs and replace aging fighter plane fleets, the Lightning was designed to take on many roles. It was intended not only to mimic the Harrier in its vertical takeoff capability, but also to incorporate a stealthy design like the F-117 Nighthawk and the F-22 Raptor, as well as replace the F-16 Falcon and the F-18 Hornet in their fighter role and the A-10 Thunderbolt in its ground attack role. To accomplish those roles, it has three main variants: the F-35A for conventional takeoff and landing, the F-35 B for short takeoff and vertical-landing, and the F-35C for catapult assisted takeoff but arrested recovery. The common design in all three models was planned to allow an 80% commonality between parts.
 
Unfortunately, as many critics claim, the aircraft’s design, with so many goals to attain, has become inefficient in all of them. The aircraft lacks dogfighting energy because of its vertical takeoff constraints – common design transferring those faults to both conventional takeoff versions, and it is lightly armoured and vulnerable in the ground attack role. Also, to maintain stealth, all of its weapons being internal, its ammunition and range is limited. And over all, cost overruns and delays have been exorbitant, further compromising the aircraft (total program costs, adjusted for inflation, amount to $1.508 trillion USD).
 
Nevertheless, the aircraft's primary advantage lies in its electronic edge, radar evasion, and complete sensor fusion. The cockpit includes a 50 × 20cm touchscreen and a speech recognition system. It also includes a helmet mounted display system which completely replaces the HUD: it is the first fighter in decades without one. This would allow the plane to attack ground targets without directly pointing the aircraft towards them, therefore reducing danger from ground fire. Lasers were being developed as optional weapons for the Lightning, an option allowing it to burn threats out of the sky.
 
The Lightning’s stealth features, although not completely impervious from radar, protect it from the frequency used by missiles and other aircraft, except at close range. Improving upon the F-22 Raptor’s, the F-35’s stealth coatings are baked into the skin and are much easier to maintain.
 
The Lightning’s sensors surround it completely, its devices so sensitive they can detect the launch of a missile 1,900 km away. In combat, such capability would give any aircraft away, even stealthy: such functions are not usually part of a fighter's design. Using its sensors and communications equipment, an F-35 could control up to 20 UCAVs and plan attacks to targets indirectly.
 
More than 170 Lightnings have been built, and they are planned to fly until 2070. They are in testing and training by the USA, the UK, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Korea, Turkey, and Italy. Its acquisition remains contested, and projects such as the Canadian procurement of the CF-35 are uncertain.
 
Israel has acquired its own version under the name F-35I Adir with a plug-and-play feature for add-on Israeli electronics: “The basic F-35 design is OK. We can make do with adding integrated software.” Israel should purchase up to 75 units, and the United States plans to acquire 1,763 in total.
 
Characteristics
Max. takeoff weight: 70,000 lb (31,800 kg)
Maximum speed: Mach 1.6+
Range: 1,200 nmi+ (2,220 km) on internal fuel
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Saab 35 Draken
After the beginning of the jet era, Sweden saw the need for a new interceptor capable of stopping bombers at high altitudes and of successfully engaging other fighters as well. Thus, the Swedish Defence Material Administration issued a request, and Saab began work on the jet in 1949.

Unique to Sweden, one requirement for the new aircraft was that it should be capable of operating from public roads as wartime airbases. Another was that refueling and rearming be feasibly carried out under ten minutes by conscripts with little training.

The Draken was designed with a double-delta configuration: its wings were in an 80° sweep at the root with winglets jutting at 60° at the tip. This allowed good high-speed performance combined with much a better slow-speed performance. Because such a configuration was new at the time, it warranted the creation of the only sub-scale test aircraft built by Sweden: the Saab 210 Lilldraken. The concept was successful, as the Draken, although not conceived for dogfights, was yet a capable fighter by its quick turn speed.

The first Draken prototype flew in October 1955. Since then, it would be built to 651 units, replacing the earlier Saab J-29 Tunnan and Saab 32 Lansen. It served not only in the Swedish Air Force, but also in the Austrian Air Force, the Finnish Air Force, and in the Royal Danish Air Force. Austria was the last to retire the aircraft in 2005. The United States also owns six Drakens formerly operated by Denmark through the National Test Pilot School, and several still fly in civilian service.

Factoid
The Draken was the first fully supersonic aircraft to be deployed in Western Europe. The second prototype, equipped with an afterburner, unintentionally broke the sound barrier on its first flight while climbing.

Characteristics
Max. takeoff weight: 16,000 kg (35,273 lb)
Maximum speed: Mach 2.2
Range: 3,250 km (2,020 mi) with external drop tanks
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Hawker Hunter
After a British specification for a jet-powered interceptor drawn in 1946, the first prototype of the aircraft flew in 1951. It was introduced in service by 1954, and would be built to almost 2,000 units and used primarily by Britain, India, Sweden, and Switzerland. Although it did suffer its initial load of conceptual problems, the aircraft was considered superior from the onset because of its good flight characteristics and quick turnaround.

The Hunter proved its worth with many years of service in many battles around British and foreign colonies. It served in the Suez Crisis, the Brunei Revolt, and over Borneo and Malaya. The Hunter also served in large numbers in the Indian Air Force, where it proved its superiority against Chinese-made Russian MiGs during the Indo-Pakistani War.

Random Fact
The Hunter initially suffered low range, only allowing it roughly an hour of flight. When a flight of eight hunters was redirected to another airfield, six crashed in the forced landing for lack of fuel. One pilot died in the incident.

To Break or Not to Break
The original airbrakes caused adverse aerodynamics and had to be replaced by a ventral flap. However, the new configuration did not allow the use of the airbrake during landing.

Characteristics
Max. takeoff weight: 24,600 lb (11,158 kg)
Maximum speed: Mach 0.94, 620 kn (715 mph, 1,150 km/h) at sea level
Ferry range: 1,650 nmi (1,900 mi, 3,060 km) with external fuel

#warbird #jetplane
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Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
The Raptor is a fifth-generation stealth fighter produced by the United States; it was the result of a request for proposals to which Lockheed/Boeing/General Dynamics and Northrop/McDonnell Douglas responded by 1986. In 1991, the Lockheed-led YF-22 was selected over the YF-23 as the final procurement choice because it was considered more maneuverable and potentially adaptable to naval use. Although the USAF had initially planned to order 750 units, production finally ceased in 2009 after 187 aircraft due to cost overruns.

The Raptor relies on highly complex software to correct its flight automatically following pilot input. Its manufacture being delegated to a large number of subcontractors, many issues developed such as high costs and quirks in system operations. In 1992 and 2004, two incidents related to the flight control system caused the crash of an aircraft; both pilots ejected safely. In 2011, the entire fleet was grounded for four months because of oxygen supply issues; pilots reportedly lost alertness, memory, and experienced problems breathing. Upon being deployed to Okinawa, Japan, six F-22s were returned by ship to resolve software issues created by crossing the International Date Line.

The Raptor's stealthy design makes it difficult to spot by the high-frequency radars used in enemy aircraft. Also, because its weapons bays are inside the fuselage, the airplane's speed and aerodynamic efficiency is higher. Nevertheless, the stealth coating is difficult to maintain; originally, the F-22 required 30+ hours of maintenance per flight hour; by 2009, however, that number diminished to 10.5 hours per flight hour.

One main advantage of the F-22 is its supercruise and supermaneuverability characteristics. The Raptor can operate at Mach 1.86 in optimum configuration using supercruise, and is estimated to be capable of exceeding Mach 2 in full afterburner (the exact statistics being classified). Supercruise increases the aircraft's speed while remaining sufficiently fuel efficient for sustained flight. The aircraft's supermaneuverability is aided by its thrust vectoring nozzles and its computerized flight control system; it can conduct maneuvers such as the J-turn and Pugachev's Cobra.

Until today, to conceal military secrets, the F-22 is banned to export. Israel, Japan, and Australia had to abandon obtaining the aircraft due to its unavailability and cost.

Fact
The software for the F-22 contains 1.7 million lines of code, much of it being related to radar and sensor fusion (converging data collected from different sources to one display).

Characteristics
Max. takeoff weight: 83,500 lb (38,000 kg)
Maximum speed at altitude: Mach 2.25 (1,500 mph, 2,410 km/h) [estimated]
Range: >1,600 nmi (1,840 mi, 2,960 km) with 2 external fuel tanks

#jetfighter #militaryAviation
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de Havilland Vampire
Development of the Vampire began two years after that of the Gloster Meteor, in 1942. In certain ways, the jet was experimental in arrangement: the twin boom, used to keep the tailpipe short, was unconventional; and the use of a single engine was a new development allowed by the increased output of British jet propulsion. The Vampire entered service in the British air force in 1945 and served in the RAF until 1966; it remained in service longer in other countries.

The Vampire was built in 15 different versions and 3,268 models, and broke many records. It was the first jet-propelled aircraft to cross the Atlantic ocean. It was also the first airplane in British service to exceed 500 mph, and was the first jet aircraft to make a practicable takeoff and landing from an aircraft carrier.

There were many operators to the Vampire: Austria, Australia, Burma, Canada, Ceylon, Chile, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Katanga, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Rhodesia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. Although it did not see action during World War II, it did take part against the insurgency in Malaya in the 1940s and 1950s, in the Suez Crisis, in the Indian annexation of Portuguese India, in the Indi-Pakistani War, and in the Rhodesian Operation Dingo. Rhodesia was the last user of the Vampire, which it only retired in 1979.

Characteristics
Max. takeoff weight: 12,390 lb (5,620 kg)
Maximum speed: 548 mph (882 km/h)
Range: 1,220 mi (1,960 km)

#jetfighter #legacy
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