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fifth generation fighter

Kim Margosein

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I've heard the term "fifth generation fighter" mentioned a few times here. Please, could someone briefly define generations 1 through 5 with perhaps an example or two of each?

Kim Margosein
 

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First off, bear in mind that I am using the definitions I've used professionally with the USAF. So, a European or Chinese designer might use different criteria.

Here we go:

GEN 1: MiG-15, F-86
-subsonic jet fighters

GEN 2: F-100, MiG-21, F-102
-supersonic jet fighters
-limited AAM carriage
-radar introduced

GEN 3: MiG-23, F-4, Mirage F-1, MiG-25
-limited look-down/shoot-down performance
-introduced BVR AAM carriage

GEN 4: F-15, F-16, MiG-29, Su-27, F-14
-BVR AAM carriage
-advanced digital avionics introduced
-look-down/shoot-down weapon systems are common

GEN 5: F-22A, F-35
-stealth
-integrated advanced avionics

4.5 GEN aircraft are 4th GEN fighters modified and incorporating 5th GEN features, such as advanced avionics or weapon systems. Examples here are the Su-35, EF-2000, and Rafale.

Here's a decent overview:

http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/history/q0182.shtml
 

smurf

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Thanks for these explanations, but I must be getting old. I remember when swept wings were a huge advance on (real?) first generation (jet) fighters like Meteors. You actually got sonic bangs. A few people might even remember biplanes!
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Occasionally US sources call the F-16 a 3rd generation aircraft, with F-22 being 4th generation. This is because the US went very quickly to BVR AAMs so the 2nd/3rd generation as shown above were compressed into one.
 

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