Northrop F-5E Tiger II Lightweight tactical fighter

The first F-5A Freedom Fighter single-seat light-fighter prototype flew in May 1963 and went on to form the basis of a major warplane family. Canadair built the CF-5A/Ds and NF-5A/Bs for the Canadian and Dutch air force respectively; the survivors of these fleets are finding a ready resale market to countries including Botswana, Turkey and Venezuela. In addition, South Korea, Brazil, Greece, Iran, Morocco, Norway, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela and Yemen all currently operate first generation F-5s. Venezuela's VF-5A/Ds have received a limited upgrade by Singapore Technologies Aerospace.
   The improved F-5E/F Tiger II was developed from the F-5A/B as an International Fighter Aircraft for sale to US allies. The F-5E prototype first flew in August 1972 and was followed by some 1 300 production F-5Es and two-seat F-5Fs for sale to 20 air forces. The F-5E was also assembled under license in Taiwan and South Korea. Tiger IIs remain in widespread service with Bahrain, Brazil, Chile, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, US Marine Corps and US Navy and Yemen.
   Reconnaissance F-5E variants are operated by Malaysia (RF-5E Tigereye), Singapore (RF-5S) and Taiwan (RF-5E Tigergazer).

   Numerous update programmes are available to keep this important warplane viable until well into the 21st century. These upgrades offer a mix of new avionics and structural refurbishment of the airframe.

Chile operates F-5Es upgraded with Israeli assistance to Tiger III standard; their advanced avionics - including Elta 2032 radar and hands on stick ant throttle controls - give a level of combat capability matching that of the F-16. The FIAR Grifo F/X Plus multimode radar has been fitted to Singaporean F-5S aircraft and has also been selected for Brazil's F-5Es. US-based TCA is offering to re-manufacture projected demand for cost-effective lead-in fighter trainers.

F-14 Tomcat Carrier-based multi-role fighter

During the late 1970s the Grumman F-14 Tomcat was widely regarded as the most important aircraft in the US Navy. Only the Tomcat was felt to be capable of defending the Carrier Battle Group from long-range cruise missile carriers, with its unmatched potential to fire off a salvo of up to six ultra long-range Phoenix air-to-air missiles against high- or low-flying targets, and then to deal with any leakers with AIM-9s or the internal 20-mm cannon. However, the credibility of the Phoenix has been dented by a poor showing in combat and trials, while the F-14 still cannot carry today's leading air-to-air missile the AIM-120 AMRAAM. AIM-54s fired at long range by F-14Ds in two recent, separate engagements at Iraqi MiG-25s and MiG-23s missed their targets.
   The original F-14A (which outnumbers the re-engined F-14B and F-14D) remains severely constrained by the unreliability and limitations of its TF30 engines. The Tomcat's tactical reconnaissance capability has been enhanced in recent years by the addition of a digital TARPS reconnaissance pod and by the ongoing development of real-time data-links. The US F-14 force began assuming a limited clear-weather attack capability in 1992. Since 1995 the LANTIRN laser designation pod has been integrated across the F-14 fleet, in combination with a basic bight vission compatible cockpit. Work is progressing on integrating GPS-guided munitions, including joint directed air munitions.
   The F-14 has seen combat during operations over Bosnia and southern Iraq, usually mounting combat air patrols and also flying air-to-ground and reconnaissance sorties.

   All F-14As were replaced by F/A-18E/Fs in 2003, the F-14Bs followed in 2007, and the last F-14Ds in 2008. The sole export customer was Iran, and of 79 F-14As received in the late 1970s, the IRIAF has a reported 28-30 in active service. These are based at Bushehr to protect Iran's vital oil installations. 

The Hawk surface-to-air missile has been integrated onto at least two aircraft, possibly as a Phoenix replacement, and there remain rumors that Iran is developing a major F-14 upgrade.

McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle Air superiority fighter

The F-15 Eagle remains the world's premier air-to-air fighter. Although now in service for over 30 years, it remains a formidable warplane, as attested by its claim to 36 of the 39 USAF aerial victories in Desert Storm, without a single combat loss. 
   The USAF has around 500 F-15s; active-duty units operate F-15C/Ds while the Air National Guard squadrons are equipped largely with older F-15A/Bs.
   The Multi-Stage Improvement II upgrade for F-15C/Ds adds APG-70 radar, AIM-120 AMRAAM capability, improved electronic counter measures equipment and the joint tactical information datalink system. The F-15A/Bs are gaining elements of the Multi-Stage Improvement II, as well as improved Dash 220E engines. Their radars are being upgraded to APG-63(V)1 standard that incorporates features of the APG-70. Due to its capabilities the F-15 has only been exported to its most trusted allies. Israel has three units that are all based at Tel Nof; one unit operates the 13 ex-USAF F-15A/Bs delivered to Israel after Desert Storm. Saudi Arabia received 96 F-15C/Ds and equip five squadrons. It is likely that F-15s serving with Israel and Saudi Arabia will receive all or elements of the Multi-Stage Improvement II upgrade.
   Delivered from 1979 to 1996, the Japan Air Self-Defence Force procured a total of 163 F-15Js and 50 F-15DJs, all but 16 of which were manufactured under licence by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The F-15J/DJs are almost identical to USAF's F-15C/Ds, but lack the US tactical electronic warfare system and are therefore fitted with indigenous electronic warfare equipment. Japanese F-15 improvements include a radar and central computer upgrade, to a standard comparable to the USAF's Multi-Stage Improveent II F-15s. Other elements include upgraded electronic counter measures systems along with new forward-looking infra-red and infra-red search and track systems. With these modifications, the F-15J will have the capability to carry fire-and-forget beyond visible range air-to-air missiles and possess much more resistance to any future electronic warfare threat. Production modifications are targeted for FY04, and about 100 F-15Js are planned to be covered by the upgrade. The F-15J/DJs primarily equip eight fighter intercept squadrons - a seven F-15DJs also serve with an aggressor unit.

F-16 Fighting Falcon Multi-role fighter

Originally conceived as a lightweight air-combat fighter, the Lockheed Martin (originally General Dynamics) F-16 has evolved into a versatile and effective multi-role workhorse. This fighter made it's maiden flight in 1974. Over 4 400 of these aircraft were built. The type is currently operated by 25 air forces. The USAF will operate it's F-16 fleet until 2025. It will be gradually replaced with the F-35.
   The first production variants were the F-16A (single seat) and F-16B (two seat) aircraft. These were built in production blocks numbered 1, 5, 10, and 15. The USAF retired its 296 Block 5/10 F-16s in the early 1990s.
   Block 15 F-16A/Bs introduced an extended horizontal stabilator and a track-while-scan mode for the radar. Most surviving Block 15 F-16s equip Air National Guard and test units. Of 467 Block 15 F-16As and F-16Bs, 272 were converted to F-16A/B ADF (Air Defense Fighter) standard with upgraded APG-66 radar compatible with AIM-7 Sparrow AAMs, advanced IFF, and improved ECCM and radios. Although most ADFs are in storage three ANG units remain equipped with the type.
   From 1988 214 new-build F-16As for export were manufactured to Block 15 OCU standard with wide-angle HUD, ring laser INS, increased MTOW capability more reliable Dash 220 engine, compatibility with AIM-9P-4 missiles and provision for ALQ-131 jamming pods. Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands bought 521 F-16A/Bs of various Blocks (including OCU) from 1979 to 1992 and are currently are equipped with indigenous tactical reconnaissance pods. Taiwan is receiving 120 F-16As and 30 F-16Bs to Block 20 standard (new-build) with an avionics configuration similar to that of the MLU. Other F-16A/B operators are Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Singapore, Thailand and Venezuela. In 1998 Jordan received 16 surplus ex-USAF F-16A/B ADFs, while Italy is leasing 30 Block 15 F-16ADFs as interim F-104 replacements. Production of F-16A/Bs totals 1 736 aircraft, comprising 1 425 F-16As and 311 F-16Bs.
The F-16C (single seat) and F-16D (two seat) is the most important operational F-16 variant with over 1 750 examples in service with nine operators. Compared to the preceding F-16A/B series, the F-16C/D introduced improved ground and all-weather attack capabilities, plus provision for BVR missiles. Major features include a wide-angle HUD, Hughes APG-68 multi-mode radar and a weapons interface for AGM-65D and AMRAAM missiles.
   The first Block 25 F-16C flew on 19 June 1984. Subsequent models feature a reconfigured engine bay with options for higher-thrust GE F110 (Block 30/40) or P&W F100 (Block 32/42) engines. F-16s with the latter powerplant have enlarged air intakes. Block 30/32 aircraft can carry AGM-88A and AIM-120 weapons.
   From 1988, Block 40/42 Night Falcons introduced LANTIRN navigation and targeting pods (carried on the sides of the air intake), APG-68V radar, AGM-88B HARM II, digital flight controls, automatic terrain following and strengthened undercarriage. Block 30-42 F-16C/Ds are operated by Bahrain, Egypt, Greece, Israel, South Korea and Turkey. License manufacture is undertaken in Korea and in Turkey.
   Many F-16Ds delivered to Israel have been subsequently fitted with a bulged spine, housing unidentified indigenous avionics that are probably associated with a defense suppression role. The USAF received a total of 1 155 F-16C/Ds. These remain the service's primary tactical combat aircraft, the Block 40/42 Night Falcons making up over half on the night/precision strike/attack force.
   In late 1991 General Dynamics began delivering the latest operational F-16 variants, the Block 50/52 F-16C/D. These feature APG-68(V)5 radar with improved memory and more modes, a new NVG-compatible wide-angle HUD, improved avionics computer, ALE-47 chaff/flare dispenser, ALR-56M RWR, Have Quick IIA radio, Have Sync anti-jam VHF and full HARM integration. These latest F-16 are powered by the IPE (Improved Performance Engine) versions of two standard GE and P&W engines. About 100 of the USAF's 289+ Block 50/52 F-16C/Ds have been raised to Block 50/52 standard with provision for the ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System pod carried under the starboard side of the intake to provide a limited Wild Weasel defense-suppression capability. Smart weapons capability is being applied to this model as well as previous versions. Export operators comprise Greece, South Korea, Singapore and Turkey. Local production is undertaken in both South Korea and Turkey. Singapore operates two-seat F-16Ds fitted with enlarged dorsal spines similar to those of Israeli aircraft. Greece is buying up to 58 F-16s to improved Block 50+ configuration with upgraded radar, a helmet-mounted cueing system, conformal fuel tanks and stealthy nozzles.
   The latest F-16 development is the Block 60/62 standard (or F-16E/F) that is being developed in response to a requirement from the United Arab Emirates. Changes including agile beam radar, internal FLIR targeting system, an advanced internal ECM system, an advanced cockpit, conformal fuel tanks and an uprated engine. These Desert Falcons were delivered between 2004-2007. Production of the F-16 remains assured until at least 2009.

Boeing F/A-18A/C Hornet Fighter / ground attack aircraft

 The world's premier naval fighter originated as a more sophisticated naval derivative of the Northrop YF-17 that was pitted successfully against the General Dynamics YF-16 in the USN's Air Combat Fighter programme of 1976. The first of 11 trials Hornets made its maiden flight on 18 November 1978. Production of the initial F/A-18A single-seat version eventually totalled 371 aircraft, the first US Navy squadron receiving its aircraft in 1983.

   The F/A-18 offers much greater weapons delivery accuracy than its predecessors, and is a genuinely multi-role aircraft, with remarkable dog-fighting ability. Its advanced APG-65 multi-mode radar has become the benchmark fighter radar. The F/A-18 made its combat debut during the El Dorado Canyon action against Libya in April 1986, and was heavily committed to action during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

   The F/A-18A was superseded by the F/A-18C, which remained the principal single-seat production model up to 1999, some 347 having been ordered for US service. The first F/A-18C made its maiden flight on 3 September 1986. This version introduced compability with the AIM-120 AMRAAM and the IIR version of the AGM-65 Maverick missile, as well as improved avionics and a new NACES ejection seat.

   After 137 baseline F/A-18Cs had been delivered, production switched to a night attack version with equipment including GEC Cat's Eye pilot's night vision goggles compatibility, an AAR-50 TINS pod, Kaiser AVQ-28 raster HUD, externally-carried AAS-38 FLIR targeting pod and color multi-function displays. The first night-attack Hornet was delivered on 1 November 1989.

   The Hornet's versatility has led to substantial export sales. Canada was the first foreign customer, taking delivery of 98 single-seat CF-188A aircraft, while Australia followed with an order for 57 AF-18A. Spain purchased 60 EF-18As (local designation C.15) and later acquired 24 former US Navy F/A-18As from late 1995. F/A-18Cs have been delivered to Kuwait (32 KAF-18Cs), Switzerland (26) and Finland (57).

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Multi-role fighter

The first of McDonnell Dauglas's (Boeing from 1997) Hornet upgrade concepts to reach fruition is the F/A-18E Super Hornet. The first F/A-18E made its maiden flight in November 1995 and the first aircraft was formally accepted into service with VFA-122 on 15 January 1999. The avionics upgrade is centred on the Raytheon APG-73 radar as already fitted to late versions of the F/A-18C. The IDECM (Integrated Defensive Electronic Counter Measures) system has three major elements: an ALR-67(V)3 RWR, ALQ-214 radio-frequency counter measures system and ALE-55 fibre-optic towed decoy system.
   The cockpit of the F/A-18E is similar to that of the F/A-18C with the exception of a larger flat-panel display in place of the current three head down displays. The enlarged airframe incorporates measures to reduce radar cross section and includes a fuselage lengthened by 0.86 m, an enlarged wing characterised by a thicker section and two more hardpoints, enlarged leading edge root extentions, and horizontal and vertical tail surfaces. The Super Hornet also has a structure extensively redesigned to reduce weight and cost without sacrificing its strength.
   The F/A-18E/F also features a new quadruplex digital fly-by-wire control system without the Hornet's mechanical back-up system. The F/A-18F Super Hornet is the two-seat development of the F/A-18E, with the rear cockpit equipped with the same displays as the front cockpit and otherwise configured for alternative combat of training roles. The US Navy had originally planned to procure a total of 1 000 Super Hornets, but in 1997 the total was reduced to 548. Any delay in the service debut of the JSF to a time later than 2008-10, however, will see the number of Super Hornets rise to 748. An F/A-18F C²W electronic combat variant has been proposed as a replacement for the Grumman EA-6B Prowler. This will be capable of both active jamming as well as lethal suspension of enemy aid defense.

Lockheed Martin F-35 Multi-role fighter

The Lockheed Martin's F-35 multi-role fighter (also known as the Lightning II) was a contender for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, which was intended to replace existing aircraft types with a common fighter. The JSF concept was introduced by the US Air Force. Aim of this program was to combine conventional fighter aircraft for the Air Force, catapulted ship-borne aircraft for the US Navy and short take-off-and-vertical-landing fighter for the US Marine Corps.

   The Lockheed Martin's proposed aircraft was previously known as the X-35 and it won competition against the Boeing X-32. From 1997 its development has been shared with Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. The first X-35A prototype was rolled out in June 2000 and made its maiden the same year. Development of this aircraft was principally funded by the USA, with the UK and other partner governments providing additional funding. It is expected to enter service in 2011. US military plans to obtain over 2 440 of these aircraft of all types. These will replace the AV-8B, A-10, F-16 and F/A-18. However due to cost overruns it is likely that fewer new aircraft will be obtained.

   The generic F-35 has a configuration similar to that of Lockheed Martin's own F-22 design, however it is slightly smaller and has one engine. Aircraft uses stealth technology, which makes it difficult to detect. It is one of the most advanced forth-generation fighter in the world.

   Two different engines were developed for this multi-role fighter, the Pratt & Whitney F135 and secondary General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 afterburning turbofans. The last mentioned is used on the STOVL aircraft. The Lightning II is capable of cruising at supersonic speeds.

   The F-35 multi-role fighter can perform on air defense missions, close air support and tactical bombing. Aircraft is armed with internally mounted GAU-22/A four-barrel 25-mm cannon. It will also carry up to two air-to-air missiles or two air-to-ground weapons in internal weapon bay. These could be AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-132 ASRAAM, JDAM, JSOW, Brimstone, WCMD, MBDA Meteor. More missiles, bombs or fuel tanks can be attached to external hardpoint. Wing tip pylons can also carry AIM-9X Sidewinders. It is worth mentioning that external weapons are carried at the expense of being more detectable by radar.

   Key systems include a multi-function active, electrically-scanned array that combines radar, electronic warfare and communications functions and a conformal array imaging IR sensor. Data from the various sensors is fused on the pilot's advanced helmet-mounted display system.

   Aircraft is proposed in three main variants. These share about 80% of their parts to keep development and production costs low. It also requires less logistic support.


    F-35A conventional take-off and landing aircraft. It is a land-based model for the USAF;

   F-35B short take-off and vertical landing aircraft. This model is being developed for the USMC, RAF and RN. Connected to the engine via a drive shaft, a Rolls-Royce lift fan behind the cockpit provides around half the thrust required for hovering flight. The lift fan results in lower power settings, and cooler exhaust temperatures and velocities;

   F-35C carrier-based aircraft. It is the US Navy's variant, which features a larger wing and control surfaces (fin & elevator) than the other variants. It will be fitted with ailerons, a strengthened landing gear, arrestor hook and a reinforced airframe to absorb catapult launches and arrested landings. Both Royal Navy and US Navy X-35B/Cs will have folding wings.

British Aerospace Sea Harrier Ship-based STOVL fighter and ground attack aircraft

The versatility and effectiveness of a maritime version of the Harrier were clear as early as 1966, but it was not until May 1975 that the go-ahead was given for development of a dedicated naval variant. Compared to the RAF's Harrier GR.Mk 3, this introduced a new forward fuselage seating the pilot higher to provide space for extra avionics which included a Blue Fox multi-mode radar. The type was intended to be multi-role, and gained the designation FRS for fighter/reconnaissance/strike (for which latter role it carried a lightweight version of the free-fall WE177 weapon).
   The first of an initial batch of 24 Sea Harrier FRS.Mk 1s for the Royal Navy flew on 20 August 1978. Subsequently, a further 10 were ordered, followed by 14 in July 1982 (seven of the latter replacing attrition in FAA service, including the Falklands war) and a further nine in 1984. The Indian navy was the sole export customer, ordering 23 Sea Harrier FRS.Mk 51s.
The Sea Harrier proved of vital importance in the conflict to regain the Falklands Islands in 1982, scoring 22 confirmed victories for no losses during air combat. The shortcomings of the Sea Harrier highlighted by the conflict led to an ambitious mid-life upgrade. On 19 September 1988, BAe flew the first prototype conversion of the Sea Harrier FRS.Mk 2 (later F/A.Mk 2 and now designated Fa.Mk 2). This features a multi-function CRT cockpit with hands on throttle and stick controls, increased weapons and stores capability, Pegasus Mk 106 powerplant (based on the Mn 105 of the AV-8B), and most importantly, a Blue Vixen radar in a re-contoured radome. The radar allows compatibility with the AMRAAM missile for beyond visual range engagements. On 24 December 1998, the last of 18 new-build FA.Mk 2s was delivered, this adding to the total of 31 machines produced by conversion from FRS.Mk 1 standard. Both Sea Harrier variants saw extensive combat over Bosnia in 1996.
   The Sea Harrier FA.Mk 2 was withdrawn from the Royal Navy in 2006 and replaced by the Harrier II.


Panavia Tornado ADV Interceptor

Developed from the Tornado IDS for a wholly RAF requirement, the Tornado ADV (Air Defense Variant) is optimized for long-range interception. Key features comprised installation of Foxhunter radar and a lengthened fuselage for carriage of semi-recessed Sky Flash air-to-air missiles. The interim F.Mk 2 was soon replaced by the definitive F.Mk 3.
   The RAF received its first of 152 production F.Mk 3s in 1986 and these have since had several updates. The Stage 1 upgrade included hands on throttle and stick controls, radar absorbent material coating, and flare dispensers while Stage 2 enhances the computer and radar imagery and adds the joint tactical information data-link.
   The long-awaited Eurofighter Typhoon is intended first to replace the F.Mk 3, but as an interim measure, the RAF is further upgrading 100 F.Mk 3s trough a Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP). This adds AMRAAM and ASRAAM capability (albeit not exploiting the full potential of these weapons via digital avionics and helmet-mounted sights), a multiple target engagement capability for the radar and improved defensive aids. The Common Operational Value (COV) modification features some structural reworking, and night vision goggles-compatible cockpit with new displays, GPS and Have Quick secure radios. The first CSP/COV aircraft were re-delivered to RAF units in 2000. The RAF's F.Mk 3 force of five frontline units, plus an OCU, is based at Coningsby, Leuchars and Leeming.

   Saudi Arabia received 24 new F.Mk s while Italy leased 24 upgraded, ex-RAF F.Mk 3s from 1995 as interim fighters, pending arrival of its Eurofighter Typhoons. ADVs have seen combat with all three nations, during Desert Storm, over the former Yugoslavia and in other NATO peacekeeping actions.

   The arrival of operational Eurofighters for the RAF in 2005 released surplus Tornado F.Mk 3s for a variety of combat support roles. Although the airframes are likely to require a further structural re-work, they could be re-equipped with radar targeting avionics and ALARM anti-radar weapons to address a clear short-fall in NATO's defense suppression capability.

AIDC F-CK-1 Ching Kuo Multi-role fighter

Taiwan's ambitious programme to develop an advanced fighter to replace its fleet of F-5s and F-104s began in 1982, after the US government placed an embargo on the sale of the Northrop F-20 and any comparable fighter. The same restrictions were not placed on technical assistance, however, and US aerospace companies have collaborated closely with AIDC to develop an indigenous fighter and weapons system. Assistance has been provided by General Dynamics (airframe), Garrett (propulsion), Westinghouse (radar) and a Smiths Industries-led team (avionics).
   The aircraft is equipped with a Golden Dragon GD-53 multi-mode pulse-Doppler radar based on the AN/APG-67(V) developed for the F-20, but incorporating some technology from the Westinghouse AN/APG-66 unit used by the F-16A.
   Of mostly conventional all-metal construction, the Ching Kuo is of conventional configuration, albeit with wing/fuselage blending. The pilot sits on a Martin-Baker Mk 12 ejection seat and the pressurized cockpit is fitted with a sidestick controller, a wide-angle head-up display, and three multi-function look-down displays.
   The first prototype made its maiden flight on 28 May 1989, and on 10 February 1994, the Republic of China Air Force's No7 Squadron publicly unveiled its aircraft, which included two production single-seaters (designated F-CK-1A) and two production two-seater conversion trainers (F-CK-1B). In March 1993, the country's legislature announced that procurement would be limited to only 130 aircraft, to equip two, instead of the planned four, wings. The final two aircraft were delivered in 2000. AIDC seeks government approval to offer a downgraded version of the two-seater Ching Kuo for export as a lead-in/advanced fighter trainer. This would not retain radar, internal gun or electronic counter measures systems.

Saab 37 Viggen Interceptor and attack aircraft

Designed to meet exacting Swedish requirements, the innovative Saab 37 Viggen (thunderbolt) multi-role fighter was for many years the backbone of Sweden's air defence, and today five of the Flygvapnet's front-line Flottiljer continue to fly the type. The first Viggen prototype made its maiden flight in 1967, and the initial production AJ 37 attack fighter (108 built) flew in 1971. The other major variants comprised 27 SF 37s for all-weather overland reconnaissance, 28 SH 37s for maritime reconnaissance and 17 Sk 37 operational conversion trainers.
   Between 1979 and 1990 the Flygvapnet received 149 second-generation JA 37s for the interceptioin role. During 1993-1997 Saab converted 48 AJ 37, 25 SF 37 and 25 SH 37s to AJS 37 standard to provide integrated attack, fighter and reconnaissance capabilities. Funding problems restricted the upgrade and a common standard was not achieved. Despite this programme, the attack/recce Viggens were rapidly replaced by JAS 39 Gripens and only one wing (F21) operated these AJS 37s in 2001.
   Meanwhile the JA 37 has been kept continually up-to-date, with the most recent programme referred to as the Mod D standard. This adds an updated PS46A radar and a new weapons interface and stores management computer that enables the use of AIM-120 AMRAAMs. The first upgraded JA 37 was re-delivered in 1998. The JA 37 currently equips four wings, each with two Divisionen (squadrons). Ten of the Flygvapnet's 14 surviving Sk 37 trainers have been converted into SK 37E Stor-Viggens (jammer Viggens). These will be tasked with electronic warfare training for Sweden's armed forces and operational EW support for Flygvapnet combat units as well as type conversion for all future Viggen pilots. Electronic warfare equipment comprises various systems installed in the airframe, as well as advanced U95 active jammer pods, U22/A jammer pods and KB chaff and flare dispenser pods. The Viggens were finally replaced by the Gripens in 2006.
Video of the Saab 37 Viggen interceptor

Saab JAS 39 Gripen Multi-role fighter

Designed to replace the Viggen in a variety of roles, the JAS 39 Gripen (griffin) will form the core of Swedish air power well into the 21st century.

   Developed by Saab Military Aircraft and marketed jointly by Saab and BAE Systems, the Gripen is a fourth-generation lightweight multi-role combat aircraft that features a delta-canard configuration coupled with a digital fly-by-wire control system. Power is provided by a modified version of the proven F404J turbofan, developed and produced by Volvo Glygmotor and fitted with a new afterburner.

   Unlike the Viggen, the JAS 39A lacks a thrust reverser but still possess excellent short-field capability. Ericsson developed the JAS 39's advanced multi-mode, pulse-Doppler PS-05/A radar. Gripen also features a wide-angle holographic HUD and a podded FLIR for attack and recce missions.
   Five prototypes and 30 production aircraft were initially ordered, the first prototype making its maiden flight in 1988. In June 1992 a second batch of 110 aircraft, including 14 JAS 39B two-seaters, was ordered. Problems with the flight control software resulted in the loss of two prototypes and the first production JAS 39A, with consequent delays to in-service date while software upgrades were developed. Eventually, 2 Divisionen of F7 at Satenas was declared combat-ready on the JAS 39A in late 1997.
Swedish defence cuts in 2000 have reduced the final number of Gripen Divisionen (squadrons) to eight, distributed with four wings. All were partially re-equipped with the Gripen by 2004. To date, Flygvapnet fully combat-capable two-seaters. Flygvapnet has already announced that the third production batch will be to JAS 39C and JAS 39D standard, with features including helmet-mounted sights, IR-OTIS IRST and improved electronic warfare systems. These planned improvements are also being retrofitted to earlier JAS 39A/Bs. 28 Gripens were exported to South Africa; these carry a range of indigenous weapons. They are also operated by Hungarian and Czech air forces.


Atlas Cheetah Multi-role fighter

A November 1977 United Nations embargo on the delivery of weapons to South Africa forced the South African Air Force (SAAF) to place a high priority on a mid-life upgrade of the aircraft surviving from the 74 Dassault Mirage IIIs and related types received during 1963-70. The upgrade made extensive use of Israeli technology (a fact that was officially denied) and produced aircraft with similar capabilities and avionics to the Israeli Kfir.
   Some 16 Mirage IIIEZs were converted to Cheetah E standard, roughly equivalent to Kfir-C7, while 11 two-seater Mirage IIIDZs and D2Zs were modified as Cheetah Ds, being similar to the Kfir-TC7. Five more Cheetah Ds may have been produced from Kfir or Mirage airframes supplied by IAI.
   Cheetah D entered service with No 89 CFS from 1 July 1986, the single seat Cheetah E following it into service with No 5 Sqn from March 1988. Cheetah D may also have briefly flown in the nuclear strike role in 1990, At a time when the SAAF's Buccaneers were phasing out of service and before South Africa dismantled its six nuclear weapons in 1992.
   With the retirement of the multi-role Cheetah E in October 1992, began the introduction of the previously secret Cheetah C. Equipped with a modern pulse-Doppler, track-while-scan EUM-2032 radar, this aircraft is formidable air defence aircraft, while the Cheetah E, with its simple ranging radar was optimised for ground attack. Cheetah C also introduces advanced avionics, a glass cockpit and HOTAS controls and employs an array of sophisticated weapons. Cheetah C entered service from late 1992 and deliveries were completed in June 1995. All 38 Cheetah Cs were built using Israeli-supplied airframe components (perhaps from surplus Kfirs or new-build) and used Atar 09K50 engines from South Africa's Mirage F1s, rather than the 09C engine of the earlier Kfirs. Surviving Cheetah Ds have been upgraded with the more powerful engine and other features of the Cheetah C. The Cheetah will continue in SAAF service until its final replacement by BAE Systems Hawk 100 and Saab/BAE Systems Gripen aircraft in 2012.

Yakovlev Yak-141 VTOL multi-role fighter

The Yak-141 (NATO designation Freestyle) is a vertical take-off and landing multi-role fighter. It's original designation was the Yak-41, however this designation was classified by the Soviet military. The Yak-141 was actually a fictitious name, applied to the aircraft which set a number of world records. By this name this shipborne fighter was known in the West, it was also applied for promotional purposes by Yakovlev Design Bureau.

   Development of this aircraft began in 1975. It had to become the first supersonic aircraft with vertical take off and landing capability. In addition it should have had weapons and radar, equal to those of the frontline fighters. It is worth mentioning, that Yakovlev Design Bureau already had a great experience in creating aircraft with vertical take off and landing capability, such as the Yak-36 and Yak-38. The last mentioned has been successfully tested during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. However Soviet government and military officials were not entirely satisfied with the Yak-38, as it's performance was not quite enough, especially operational range and electronic systems. Also the Yak-38 was inferior to the British Harrier. So in 1975 Yakovlev Design Bureau was ordered to develop a more powerful and unprecedented plane with supersonic speed, vertical take-off and landing capability, longer range and a powerful armament, that could take-off from aircraft carriers.

   Designers from the Yakovlev bureau found out, that the double engine scheme of the Yak-38 and Harrier was not suitable for the new plane. Instead they created a layout with a single engine, that could turn 95° down with two additional vertical thrust engines, located in the middle of the fuselage, just behind the center of gravity. These would turn on only during vertical take-off, vertical landing and hovering. Engineers had to stretch body of the aircraft for aerodynamic stability. This is why the Yak-141 is larger than it's predecessor, the Yak-38.

   Initially a "duck" configuration with a single square-shaped engine was discussed, however soon this idea was declined because of low maneuverability and technical problems, even though such scheme was low observable. After nearly 20 years a plane with such kind of layout and propulsion, the X-32, lost tender in the USA during the JSF program to the F-35.

   The first prototypes of the Yak-141 were completed in 1987. Altogether 4 planes were built, two for static tests and two for flight tests. Aircraft made it's first flight and test flights began the same year. Flight tests were successfully conducted in 1990, when aircraft made passed a full test program, including vertical take-off and landing, short take-off, flying at supersonic speed then slowing down to hovering and so on. In 1991 during a single flight the new aircraft set 12 world records in it's class. One of the records was achieving a 12 km vertical take-off. After this flight the new plane received the Yak-141 designation.

   In 1991 two prototype aircraft performed their first vertical landing on Baku (later renamed Admiral Gorshkov) Kiev class light aircraft carrier.

   The Yak-141 was intended both for naval aviation and air force. Primary user was the Soviet Navy. A futuristic and innovative idea was bound with this airplane. Idea was to create a mobile take-off and landing platform, which had small dimensions and could withstand aircraft's weight and hot jets from the engines. This platform would be mounted on the DT-30 Vityaz articulated all-terrain tracked carrier (which was also under development at that time). The Vityaz could transport the platform to such territories, that could not be reached by usual off-road vehicles and were no opportunities to build an airfield. The Yak-141 could land on this mobile platform, fill the fuel from another DT-30 tanker and continue it's mission. Payload capacity of the DT-30 is 30 t, so such kind of mission was no problem for it. Actual tests of the Yak-141, based on the DT-30 were made, however development of the Vityaz was protracted and soon the Yak-141 program appeared to be on the brink of failure. So this unprecedented idea, which could give advantage to the Soviet Union was not implemented.

   The Yak-141 was capable of engaging air, ground and sea targets. It was armed with a single 30-mm cannon. Missile armament included the R-73 Archer, R-77 Adder or R-27 Alamo air-to-air missiles and Kh-31 and Kh-35 air-to-surface missiles. This multi-role fighter also had provision to carry unguided air-to-ground munitions and bombs. Wings of this warplane are folding, as it is usual for a carrier-based plane.

   The Yak-141 multi-role fighter did not enter production. The funding for this program ceased in 1991 after a landing accident on the aircraft carrier, when one prototype landed during excessive side wind and was badly damaged. After collapse of the Soviet Union military funding was limited. In 1992 the Yak-141 program was canceled as it happened with many other promising weapon systems. Also by 1995 Russia decommissioned all Kiev class aircraft carriers, this plane was intended for.

   In 1992 the Yak-141 was presented at Farnborough international air show and Le Bourget in 1993. Visitors and appraisers gave highest marks to this unique aircraft. Some countries showed interest in acquiring this plane, however no actual orders were made.

   It the early 1990s Lockheed Martin entered into partnership with Yakovlev Design Bureau for further development of this aircraft. Results of this partnership is unknown, however Lockheed Martin possibly used experience gained from this project developing their own F-35 multi-role fighter.

   It is worth mentioning that in the near future USA will operate a large numbers of F-35B Lightining II stealth multi-role fighters with supersonic speed and vertical take-off and landing capability, but propulsion system of the F-35B is very similar to that of the Yak-141, developed more than 20 years ago.

Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker Air superiority fighter

The Su-27 was developed primarily for Russia's air-defense interceptor forces. Work on the T-10 design that led to the Su-27 began in 1969. The requirement was for a highly maneuverable fighter with very long range, heavy armament and modern sensors, capable of meeting the F-15 on equal terms.
   The first prototype T-10 Flanker-A flew in 1977. The early flight development programme revealed serious problems that led to a total redesign; the resulting T-10S-1 flew in 1981. The single-seat Su-27 Flanker-B eventually entered operational service in 1985 and remains a formidable interceptor.

   Its heavy armament of up to 10 air-to-air missiles gives excellent combat persistence; outstanding maneuverability, coupled with a helmet sight to cue agile R-73 missiles also make it a potent close combat fighter, and its large internal fuel capacity confers a very long range that allows the Su-27 to escort Su-24 interdictors.

   All operators also use Su-27UB Flanker-C two-seat trainers. This retains full combat capability and has been developed further.

   The Su-27K is a naval fighter variant that has the Russian naval aviation service designation Su-33. A total of 24 production aircraft has been built to date; the type made its first deployment on carrier Kuznetsov in 1995.

   Sukhoi is developing variants for the reconnaissance and electronic warfare/command post roles. In 1988 Sukhoi flew a significantly developed single-seat version of the Flanker-B as the Su-27M. This was proposed as a super agile Su-27 primarily for counter-air missions, but also with a greatly expanded air-to-surface capability. The Su-27M was later redesignated Su-35 by Sukhoi and offered as a MiG-29/Su-27 replacement. Its development was halted after 11 prototype and pre-series/technology demonstrator aircraft had been built. The last Su-35 (711) was fitted with thrust-vectoring nozzles to confer even higher levels of maneuverability. This aircraft was actively proposed for the Russian air force as the Su-37.

Sukhoi S-37 Berkut Research and technology demonstrator aircraft

On 25 September 1997 the S-37 Berkut (royal eagle) made its maiden flight from the flight test centre airfield at Zhukhovskii. The S-37 (sometimes referred as the Su-47) is being developed by Sukhoi to explore the post-stall maneuverability and supermaneuverability. Although very much a research aircraft and concept demonstrator in its present form, it formed the basis of a fifth generation Russian Sukhoi PAK FA stealthy air superiority fighter.
   The most radical aspect of the Berkut is its forward swept wing, 90 per cent of which is of composites construction to ensure adequate torsional stiffness. The very advanced aerodynamic configuration includes strakes, canards, wing leading edge root extensions, tailplanes and twin fins. Combined with extensive use of radar absorbent materials, these are carefully shaped to minimize radar cross section. It is of similar size to the MiG 1.44.
   The S-37 shares many components with the Su-27, including the strengthened undercarriage developed for the naval Su-33, tailfins and canopy. It is reported to be fitted with the quadruplex fly-by-wire system of the Su-35/Su-37.

   Little hard information regarding the S-37's present or future capabilities has been revealed. Almost certainly, it is not flying with engines representative of a production fighter derivative. It further lacks radar, mission systems or weapons but clearly has provision for their installation, as evidence by the various dielectric panels, and radomes around the airframe as well as mock-up infra-read search and track and exhaust vent for an internal gun.

   Weapons carriage is said to be either on conventional pylons or in a semi-conformal arrangement to minimize radar cross-section. The type may also have an internal weapons bay.

Sukhoi PAK FA Stealthy air superiority fighter

The Sukhoi PAK FA (or Future Frontline Aircraft System), is a new Russian air superiority fighter. It is considered as a Russian answer to the US F-22 Raptor. Development of this new aircraft commenced in 2001. The T-50 prototype was revealed and made it's maiden flight in 2010. This fighter aircraft is expected to enter service with the Russian Air Force in 2015. It will probably receive a regular Su- designation. The PAK FA is intended to replace the ageing MiG-29 Fulcrums and Su-27 Flankers. Some sources report, that Russia plans to acquire up to 150 - 200 of these new fighters. Despite being referred as a fifth-generation fighter, there are some serious doubts about it, as some US Military officials refer the Sukhoi PAK FA only as advanced forth-generation fighter.

   Development of this aircraft was also funded by India, which also plans to acquire up to 250 of these next-generation fighters, known as the HAL FGFA or Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft. The Indian aircraft version will be different from the Russian version. Some sources report, that the HAL FGFA will has a twin-seat configuration. It is claimed that the PAK FA will also be proposed for other export customers.
   This stealthy air superiority fighter has a generally conventional layout. The PAK FA uses stealth shaping to deflect radar waves. It was expected to use two Saturn 117S engines, producing 142 kN of thrust in afterburning and 86.3 kN dry. However the T-50 prototype used a completely new Saturn engines during it's maiden flight, that generate a larger thrust. Exact specifications of the new engine are unknown. Some sources claim, that it produced 175 kN of thrust in afterburning. The PAK FA is capable of flying at supersonic speeds without using afterburner.
   Two large weapon bays are mounted in tandem between the engines. There are also two sidebays for short-range air-to-air missiles. It is believed that this aircraft will carry up to 7 500 kg of ordnance. This fighter has 10 internal and 6 external hardpoints for the R-74M Archer and R-77M Adder air-to-air missiles.

   The Russian Sukhoi PAK FA will also be available as a twin-seater.