Sherif Hany

Sherif Hany

23-09-2021

00:42

THE EVOLUTION OF JET FIGHTERS: A Thread

Today I will be covering the evolution of fighter jets covering both technological advancements as well as evolution in doctrine in how jet fighters operated in the battlefield. There is not a universally accepted evolutionary path, so forgive any discrepancies.

ORIGINS: the first operational jet fighter was produced in 1942 by Germany, while it was faster than traditional piston engine planes, jet propulsion was still in its infancy and did not boast massive gains over standard propeller fighters.

The end of World War 2 marks the entry in some of the notable Gen 1 fighters. These planes followed WWII doctrine fairly closely, relying on manually controlled guns for a primary weapon, and radar/ tracking missiles were nonexistent (pictured: P-80 Shooting Star)

First Gen aircraft saw combat in the Korean War, such as the MiG-15 and the F-86, primarily focusing on air dominance and intercepting, again, with classic dogfighting as their main doctrine (pictured: MiG-15 and F-86)

Second Gen developed after the Korean War, with advancements of reaching Mach 2 speeds, radar, and tracking missiles, and more of a focus on multirole fighters. Some examples include the F-104 Starfighter and the imfamous MiG-21, which is still in service today!

Gen 2 aircraft where the first to use afterburners, allowing them to reach speeds of Mach 2, and saw improvements of body and wing designs, however, at their core still retained their dogfighting nature. (pictured: Mirage III, a less common style implementing the Delta wing)

Gen 3 is the first major shift in doctrine for jet fighters. Built from the ground up to be multirole aircraft, engaging in air to ground, air to air, and a first, BVR (beyond visual range) Many 3rd gen aircraft saw combat in Vietnam, for example the F-4 Phantom and MiG-23

Gen 3 was the departure from dogfighting, as many believed air combat would solely rely on radar tracking missiles. Gen 3 saw improvements of speed and maneuverability, with the Mig-25 reaching speeds of Mach 3.

Gen 4 is where things get crazy. While multirole aircraft were fairly successful, there were crucial design flaws that were addressed. Here we see many current use aircraft in both the US and abroad. Many advancements include composite materials allowing thrust to weight ratios

Higher than 1, modern digital sensors, datalinking, and so much more. Earlier models include the F-14 and MiG-27. Here we see much more variety in aircraft, the F-15, F-16, and F-18 all with unique roles and capabilities for the US, and Mig-29, Su-27 and Mig-31.

Then there is Gen 4.5 or 4+ one of the more controversial generations, as while it began to bridge the gap between 4 and 5, they are generally just Gen 4 variants with improvement tech internally. This includes later variants of the F/A-18 and the Mig-35.

A rather one of a kind plane that fits ...somewhere... is the F-117 Nighthawk, a stealth fighter produced in 1981, which lead to a huge advancement in stealth tech on jets. (@kommandostore has this sweet shirt with the Nighthawk)

Gen 5 is the most current generation, taking advantage of the most current technology, smart helmets that give you a HUD on your flight helmet, thrust vectoring allowing even more maneuverability. These include the F-22, F-35 and Su-57. There are some chinese ones,

However i think they are ugly and will not be acknowledging them. There is the more conceptual Gen 6 aircraft, however these are far down the road as the F-35 is set for operation up into the 2070s. I appreciate all of you who made it to the end!



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