A-10 Thunderbolt II by Fairchild

Great shot of an A-10 over Afghanistan.  In this picture, Capt. Andrew Quinn flies his OA/A-10 Thunderbolt II observation/attack aircraft to a refueling position behind a KC-135 Stratotanker.  This picture was taken  on Sunday, March 26, 2006 by U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Lance Cheung.  Captain Quinn is currently deployed to the 355th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.   The A-10 Thunderbolt II is a single-seat, twin-engine, straight-wing jet aircraft designed to provide close air support (CAS) of ground forces.

It was the first U.S. Air Force aircraft, designed in the 1970’s, exclusively for close air support . The A-10’s official name comes from the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt of World War II, a fighter that was particularly effective at close air support. The A-10 is more commonly known by its nickname “Warthog” or simply “Hog”.

Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon

The U.S. Air Force officially named the F-16 “Fighting Falcon” on July 21st, 1980, during a ceremony at Hill AFB in Utah.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. In the air combat role, the F-16’s maneuverability and combat radius exceed that of all potential enemy fighter aircraft. It can locate targets in all weather conditions and detect low flying aircraft in radar ground clutter. In the air-to-surface role, the F-16 can fly over 500 miles, deliver its weapons accurately, defend itself, and return to base. An all-weather capability allows it to accurately deliver ordnance during bad weather or at night. With a full load of internal fuel the F-16 can withstand up to 9G’s, it’s likely the pilot will fail before the airframe does.. The bubble cockpit canopy gives the pilot unobstructed vision forward and upward and much improved vision over the side and rear.

The F-16 first flew in December 1976. The first operational F-16A was delivered to the 388th TFW at Hill AFB, Utah in January 1979. The two-seat version, the F-16B, has two cockpits each about the same size as the single ‘A’ version cockpit. To make room for the second cockpit the forward fuselage fuel tank and avionics growth space is reduced.

The Falcon was one of the first to use the now standard fly-by-wire control system whereby no direct mechanical link is provided, instead the pilot’s controls communicate with the F-16 ‘s electronics which in turn move the aircraft’s flying surfaces. This system requires a side-mounted control stick instead of the conventional between the knees joystick that came as standard with combat planes since the beginning, needed for better control during the high-G maneuvers the plane can fly.

To simplify and cut the cost of development and production of the Falcon, some existing and proven systems from other USAF aircraft were adapted for it’s use. Parts used in the earlier F15 Eagle and the old swing wing F111 fighter bomber found a home in the aircraft. Unusually the F16 Falcon has a single engine instead of two. While cutting the cost of the aircraft and also maintenance time it does always increase the chance of a ‘dead stick landing’, however the F16 has proven reliable in the field.

The Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, the first of the US Air Force multi-role fighter aircraft, is the world’s most prolific fighter with more than 2,000 in service with the USAF and 2,000 operational with 23 other countries.

Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon














Primary Function Multi-role fighter
Builder Lockheed Martin Corp.
Power Plant F-16C/D:
one Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-200/220/229 or
one General Electric F110-GE-100/129
Thrust F-16C/D, 27,000 pounds(12,150 kilograms)
Length 49 feet, 5 inches (14.8 meters)
Height 16 feet (4.8 meters)
Wingspan 32 feet, 8 inches (9.8 meters)
Speed 1,500 mph (Mach 2 at altitude)
Ceiling Above 50,000 feet (15 kilometers)
Maximum Takeoff Weight 37,500 pounds (16,875 kilograms)
Combat Radius [F-16C]

740 nm (1,370 km) with 2 2,000-lb bombs + 2 AIM-9 + 1,040 US gal external tanks
340 nm (630 km) with 4 2,000-lb bombs + 2 AIM-9 + 340 US gal external tanks
200 nm (370 km) + 2 hr 10 min patrol with 2 AIM-7 + 2 AIM-9 + 1,040 US gal external tanks

Range Over 2,100 nm (2,425 mi; 3,900 km)
Armament One M-61A1 20mm multibarrel cannon with 500 rounds; external stations can carry up to six air-to-air missiles, conventional air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions and electronic countermeasure pods.

North American P-51 Mustang

U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) fighter aircraft manufactured by North American Aviation, Inc., between 1942 and 1945. In its role as a long-range bomber escort in the European Theater of Operations during World War II, the P-51 exhibited its greatest influence and is credited by many as the airplane that shifted the European airwar in favor of the allied forces.

This P-51 was used by the USAFF, USAF and various U.S. Air National Guard units during and after World War II, performing a variety of missions, including interception of enemy aircraft, long-range bomber escort, armament support for land and sea forces, photographic reconnaissance and flight training.

The P-51 performed at levels surpassing other single-engine, propeller driven fighter aircraft during World War II.  The wingspan of 44-73287 is 37.03 feet and has a wing area of 236 square feet. The plane’s two-section, semimonocoque fuselage is constructed entirely of aluminum alloy and is 32 feet and 2 5/8 inches in length.

Laminar flow airfoil was used during World War II in the design of the wings for the North American P-51 Mustang, as well as some other aircraft. Operationally, the wing did not enhance performance as dramatically as tunnel tests suggested. For the best performance, manufacturing tolerances had to be perfect and maintenance of wing surfaces needed to be thorough. The rush of mass production during the war and the tasks of meticulous maintenance in combat zones never met the standards of NACA laboratories. Still, the work on the laminar flow wing pointed the way to a new family of successful high-speed airfoils. These and other NACA wing sections became the patterns for aircraft around the world.

P-51 Mustang

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

The F-22A Raptor is a next-generation fighter/attack aircraft that features the latest stealth technology to reduce detection by radar. Using more advanced engines and avionics than the current F-15 Eagle, the F-22A is intended to maintain U.S. Air Force capabilities against more sophisticated enemy aircraft and air defenses in the 21st century.

The Raptor combines stealth, maneuverability and the ability to fly long distances at supersonic speeds — or “super cruise” — in performance of air superiority and air-to-ground missions. Furthermore, it requires less maintenance than older fighters. These capabilities represent an exponential leap in war fighting capabilities.

In 1981 the U.S. Air Force needed a new air superiority fighter that would take advantage of new technologies in fighter design including composite materials, lightweight alloys, advanced flight control systems, higher power propulsion systems and stealth technology. Lockheed Martin’s F-22 won the design competition in April 1991, and the rollout ceremony for the first F-22 Raptor occurred in April 1997.

The Raptor successfully completed its initial operational and test evaluation in 2004, and the program received approval for full rate production. In December 2005 operational aircraft were designated F-22As.

Production of the F-22A is a partnership between Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Pratt & Whitney. Boeing builds the Raptor’s wings and aft-fuselage; the engines come from Pratt & Whitney, and Lockheed Martin builds the forward fuselage and assembles the subsections in Marietta, Ga.

On May 12, 2005, the Raptor program achieved a historic milestone with the delivery of the first combat-capable Raptor to the 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Wing, at Langley Air Force Base, Va. In January 2006 the 27th Fighter Squadron flew the first operational mission with the F-22 in support of Operation Noble Eagle (the official name given to the defense of U.S. borders).

A combination of sensor capability, integrated avionics, situational awareness, and weapons provides first-kill opportunity against threats. The F-22A possesses a sophisticated sensor suite allowing the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected. Significant advances in cockpit design and sensor fusion improve the pilot’s situational awareness. In the air-to-air configuration the Raptor carries six AIM-120 AMRAAMs and two AIM-9 Sidewinders.

The F-22A has a significant capability to attack surface targets. In the air-to-ground configuration the aircraft can carry two 1,000-pound GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions internally and will use on-board avionics for navigation and weapons delivery support. In the future air-to-ground capability will be enhanced with the addition of an upgraded radar and up to eight small diameter bombs. The Raptor will also carry two AIM-120s and two AIM-9s in the air-to-ground configuration.

Advances in low-observable technologies provide significantly improved survivability and lethality against air-to-air and surface-to-air threats. The F-22A brings stealth into the day, enabling it not only to protect itself but other assets.

The F-22A engines produce more thrust than any current fighter engine. The combination of sleek aerodynamic design and increased thrust allows the F-22A to cruise at supersonic airspeeds (greater than 1.5 Mach) without using afterburner — a characteristic known as super cruise. Super cruise greatly expands the F-22A ‘s operating envelope in both speed and range over current fighters, which must use fuel-consuming afterburner to operate at supersonic speeds.

The sophisticated F-22A aero design, advanced flight controls, thrust vectoring, and high thrust-to-weight ratio provide the capability to outmaneuver all current and projected aircraft. The F-22A design has been extensively tested and refined aerodynamically during the development process.

From the very beginning, the F-22A exceeded the USAF’s expectations, and during exercises and deployments, it proved to be more than a match for any fighter opposing it.

During the highly realistic Exercise Northern Edge 2006, the F-22 proved itself against as many as 40 “enemy aircraft” during simulated battles. The Raptor pilots achieved a 108-to-zero “kill” ratio against the best F-15, F-16 and F-18 “adversaries.” The stealthy F-22A also proved that it could avoid and destroy enemy surface to air missiles, and recorded an impressive 97 percent mission capability rate.

Specifically noting the Raptor’s performance at Northern Edge, the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) awarded its 2006 Robert J. Collier Trophy, considered America’s most prestigious award for aeronautical and space development, to the Lockheed Martin Corp.-led F-22 Raptor aircraft team “for designing, testing and operating” the Raptor. Team members included Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and BAE Systems. This amazing aircraft was described as “the most efficient and effective fighter in history, through exceptional performance and outstanding safety features.”

The F-22A will have better reliability and maintainability than any fighter aircraft in history. Increased F-22A reliability and maintainability pays off in less manpower required to fix the aircraft and the ability to operate more efficiently.

Primary Function: Air dominance, multi-role fighter
Contractor: Lockheed-Martin, Boeing
Power Plant: Two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners and two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles.
Thrust: 35,000-pound class (each engine)
Wingspan: 44 feet, 6 inches (13.6 meters)
Length: 62 feet, 1 inch (18.9 meters)
Height: 16 feet, 8 inches (5.1 meters)
Weight: 43,340 pounds (19,700 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 83,500 pounds (38,000 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: Internal: 18,000 pounds (8,200 kilograms); with 2 external wing fuel tanks: 26,000 pounds (11,900 kilograms)
Payload: Same as armament air-to-air or air-to-ground load outs; with or without 2 external wing fuel tanks.
Speed: Mach 2 class with super cruise capability
Range: More than 1,850 miles ferry range with 2 external wing fuel tanks (1,600 nautical miles)
Ceiling: Above 50,000 feet (15 kilometers)
Armament: One M61A2 20-millimeter cannon with 480 rounds, internal side weapon bays carriage of two AIM-9 infrared (heat seeking) air-to-air missiles and internal main weapon bays carriage of six AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-air load out) or two 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAMs and two AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-ground load out)
Crew: One
Unit Cost: $142 million
Initial operating capability: December 2005
Inventory: Total force, 91

McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II

The McDonnell two-place, twin jet, all-weather F-4 Phantom II, with top speeds more than twice that of the speed of sound, was one of the most versatile fighters ever built. A fast and powerful aircraft that proved itself in roles such as interceptor, air-superiority fighter, attack aircraft, and reconnaissance platform. The F-4 was built in large quantities, had a significant combat history, and still remains in service with a number of foreign air arms, over 40 years after its introduction.

The F-4 was put into service by the Air Force and Navy serving a variety of roles in the Vietnam conflict. The final application of the F-4 by the U.S. was in the “Wild Weasel” role for suppressing enemy air defense systems. F-4 production ended in 1979 after over 5,000 had been built-more than 2,600 for the U.S. Air Force, about 1,200 for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, and the rest for friendly foreign nations. Later versions of the aircraft were in the U.S. Air Force inventory until December 1995.

Under its own financing and initiative, McDonnell Aircraft began developing an all-weather attack fighter in August 1953, shortly after it lost a competitive bid to build a Navy supersonic air-superiority fighter. McDonnell had already produced more than 1,000 carrier-based jet aircraft, the FH-1 Phantom, the F2H Banshee and the F3H Demon.

In 1954, the Navy selected McDonnell Aircraft to begin production of the fighter, designated the F4H, which was to be a fleet defense fighter that could take off from an aircraft carrier, have a cruise distance of 250 mi, intercept intruders, and then return to the carrier 3 hr after takeoff. The aircraft was to be armed with missiles and would not carry guns. It would operate as a high-speed (Mach number of 2), standoff missile launcher that would not engage in close-in combat. . Just 31 months after its first flight, the F-4 was the U.S. Navy’s fastest, highest-flying and longest-range fighter. It first flew May 27, 1958, and entered service in 1961. It was named Phantom II on July 3, 1959, during a ceremony held at the McDonnell plant in St. Louis, Mo., to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary.

During the first few years of the Vietnam conflict, the U.S. found itself engaging enemy aircraft such as the MiG-17 and MiG-19 that were relatively agile and could easily outmaneuver the heavier U.S. aircraft (F-4 and F-105) that had been designed without requirements for close dogfighting or close weapons such as a gun. Initial tactics used by U.S. pilots to try and turn with enemy aircraft had been relatively unsuccessful, and it had become apparent that missiles in use at that time were relatively unreliable at long ranges. Pilot training and revised tactics were ultimately employed to blunt the threat and use U.S. aircraft to an advantage, but the lack of maneuverability and a gun for close-in combat became issues for the Air Force. A new Air Force version known as the F-4E was equipped with a nose mounted M61 cannon, and additional deliveries to the Air Force began in October 1967.

Both U.S. military flight demonstration teams, the Navy Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds, flew the Phantom II from 1969 to 1973.  The 5,000th Phantom was delivered on May 24, 1978, in ceremonies that also marked the 20th anniversary of the fighter’s first flight, and McDonnell Douglas delivered the last St. Louis-built Phantom II in October 1979.

By 1998, approximately 800 were still in service around the world. With the upgrades already performed and those under contract, the F-4 Phantom II will probably still be flying in 2015 — nearly 60 years after its first flight.

The Navy fighter garnered a host of world speed and time-to-climb records. On 06 December 1959 Commander L.E. Flint, piloting a McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom II powered by two GE J-79 engines bettered the existing world altitude record by reaching 98,560 feet over Edwards Air Force Base.

First flight: May 27, 1958 (prototype YF4H-1)
Wingspan: 38 feet 5 inches
Length: 58 feet 3 inches
Height: 16 feet 6 inches
Ceiling: 56,100 feet
Range: 1,750 miles
Weight: 55,597 pounds
Power plant: Two 17,900-pound-thrust General Electric J79-GE-17 jet engines
Speed: 1,485 mph (max.)
Accommodation: Two crew
Armament: 15,983 pounds of weapons, including 20 mm nose-mounted M-61 “Vulcan” cannon

McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II