Every country that wants to protect its air space must have the newest and the best fighter jets in its arsenal. Currently, the 5th generation fighter airplanes with their latest weapons, powerful engines and stealth capabilities are the most advanced.
But many countries already started developing 6th generation fighter jets, while 4th generation fighters remain the backbone of a majority of air forces around the world. Fourth-generation fighters can be upgraded with new technology to make them an effective fighting force on the modern battlefield. Such aircraft are often referred to as 4+ or 4++ generation fighter jets.
We will use these characteristics to measure how advanced each fighter aircraft is:
The power and the reliability of its engine: the best fighter jets are powered by the most powerful and the most advanced engines;
Newest and most advanced weapon systems: a fighter is as effective as its weapons;
High-performance avionics: advanced flight control equipment allows for the best handling of the plane;
All-aspect stealth: such capability allows an aircraft to remain invisible to enemy radars and detectors for as long as possible;
Powerful and advanced radar: it allows to detect enemies and offers low probability of being intercepted;
Highly integrated computer systems: sophisticated computers allow to control the aircraft and also to communicate with other fighters, as well as the ground control.
Keeping this in mind, let’s count the top 10 most advanced fighter jets of 2021!
10. JF-17 Thunder / HAL Tejas
That’s right, these two great fighter jets are so matched that we can’t decide which of them is better! Speedy and nimble, the JF-17 and Tejas are the very best 4th generation light fighter design could offer. They are excellent dogfighters armed with a great array of weapons, and are also multirole fighters capable of performing a multitude of combat roles.
The JF-17 Thunder, also known as the FC-1 Xiaolong, was developed by Pakistan and China and now has become the workhorse of the Pakistan Air Force by replacing older Dassault Mirage III and Chengdu J-7 fighter jets. In January 2021, the newest variant the JF-17A Block 3 went into production, offering the most advanced avionics, helmet-mounted display, new radar, and many other improvements.
HAL Tejas is its Indian counterpart, developed to replace older MiG-21 fighter jets and enrich the Indian Air Force with numerous, domestically-produced advanced fighters. In January 2021, the improved Tejas Mark 1A variant was approved for production, featuring a new radar, advanced electronic warfare equipment, and a reduced radar signature.
9. Sukhoi Su-30SM
The Sukhoi Su-30SM is the newest development of the most numerous fighter jet of the Russian Air Force, the Su-27. Improving every aspect of the base model, the Su-30 is a 4+ generation fighter aircraft and features new radar, avionics, weapons systems, and much more.
Many countries, including India, Vietnam, Armenia, and others use various models of the Su-30 with great success. The Su-30 SM improves on it with even more powerful radar, newer avionics, and most importantly – the thrust-vectoring system which allows to rotate jet engine nozzles for unrivaled maneuverability. Thanks to it, the Su-30SM is one of the most maneuverable aircraft and one of the most advanced fighter jets in the world.
8. Boeing F-15EX
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is the most numerous aircraft of the United States Air Force (USAF), as well as many other air forces around the world. Nowadays the jet is built by Boeing, which developed many improvements for the aircraft. The F-15E Strike Eagle is its current variant and the F-15EX is an upgrade that gives it the 4+ generation capability with new control system, advanced weapon capabilities, and many other features.
It is based on the F-15QA developed for Qatar Air Force, while many other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Israel and others have also upgraded their F-15s to modern standards. In early 2021, the United States approved the sale of the F-15EX to India too.
7. Eurofighter Typhoon
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a 4+ generation multirole fighter jet used by Great Britain, Germany, Qatar, Kuwait, Italy, and others. It was a joint development of Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo, and is one of the most advanced fighter jets manufactured in Europe.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is constantly upgraded with new features. Tranche 3 is the latest production standard, with new electronics, radar and defense systems, and has a greatly improved air-to-air and air-to-ground capability. Older Eurofighter Typhoons are constantly being improved to the level of the newest variant, making them some of the most advanced fighter jets in 2021.
6. Dassault Rafale
The Rafale is a multirole fighter jet developed by the French company Dassault. France withdrew from the joint European fighter jet program after disagreements with other countries, and developed its own fighter jet that would replace its older Mirage fighters in both air defense and ground attack roles.
Not only France, but also India, Egypt, Qatar and Greece have ordered the aircraft for their air forces, while many other countries considered buying it too. Rafale has many variants that include armament, avionics and stealth upgrades.
5. Shenyang FC-31
The FC-31 is the latest Chinese 5th generation fighter jet. Not much is known about its capabilities, but it is most likely going to be introduced into Chinese military soon, as a light maneuverable counterpart to the J-20 or as a new fighter jet for China’s aircraft carriers.
Lighter and simpler than many 5th generation fighter aircraft, the FC-31 is nevertheless very advanced, showing stealth, supercruise and many other incredible capabilities. Since it is not yet introduced, it still has to prove itself though.
4. Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
The F-22 Raptor was the first fifth-generation fighter jet and remains the stealthiest fighter jet in existence. It also laid the course for other aircraft to follow, introducing low radar visibility, supercruise, advanced sensor networks, and supermaneuverability in one package.
Although its production was discontinued in 2011 due to high cost, it remains one of the deadliest fighter jets for beyond-visual-range combat, made even more intimidating by its near-unrivalled dogfighting capability. Lacking multirole capabilities of many other fighter jets, the Raptor is still an incredibly effective air-to-air platform.
3. Sukhoi Su-57
The Su-57 Felon is the Russian answer to the F-22. It is the country’s first stealth airplane, combining great close-combat effectiveness of the Su-27 and the Su-30 family with low radar visibility and other fifth-generation fighter jet features.
Although its estimated cost is much lower than other newest fighter jets, the development of the Su-57 was plagued with delays. Its serial production started only in 2020, and in 2021 Russian Air Force already uses its first units of this incredible fighter jet. Also, Russia is currently developing the new engine for it, so, in the near future the Su-57 is going to become even more advanced and even deadlier in the air.
2. Chengdu J-20
Also known as the Mighty Dragon, the J-20 is the most advanced Chinese fighter jet, employing the latest stealth technology. It is also the second 5th generation fighter jet to enter service in the world, an achievement made even more impressive by the fact that China has just recently started developing its own advanced fighter aircraft.
Its true capabilities are a closely guarded secret known only by the highest ranking Chinese officials. Nevertheless, we can tell that China keeps constantly upgrading its J-20s. Most recently, new powerful domestically-made engines were developed for it, and there are also hints that new, more advanced variants are in the works.
1. Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
Some love it, others hate it, but nobody can deny that the F-35 is one of the most advanced and most capable fighter jets. While its early variants were beset by all kinds of problems, the U.S. spent billions of dollars improving this airplane, and many tests and training fights show that it can challenge any other jet.
The aircraft has three distinct variants: F-35A is the basic conventional fighter; F-35B is a variant for short take off and vertical landing; F-35C is the carrier variant, designed to replace the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 fighter jet.
What makes the F-35 stand out is its incredible fusion of advanced sensors, stealth, electronic warfare, and networking capabilities. The U.S. spent over $1.5 trillion dollars developing this plane, making it the most expensive weapon platform ever. It also made it the most advanced one.
F-35 Lightning II
The F-35 delivers an unrivaled advantage for our pilots, nation and global partners as the most advanced node in the networked 21st Century Security vision.
F-35 Lightning II
The F-35 delivers an unrivaled advantage for our pilots, nation and global partners as the most advanced node in the networked 21st Century Security vision.
The SU-57 is generally considered to have better speed and maneuverability than the F-35, while the F-35 emphasizes stealth and versatility.What is the new top secret fighter jet? ›
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The F-15 Eagle and its variants are some of the most capable jet fighters ever. McDonnell Douglas created and produced it primarily as an air superiority tactical fighter. The Eagle is one of the most successful fighters of the modern era.What is the US military newest jets? ›
The secretive F/A-XX will replace the Super Hornet. The U.S. Navy is asking for nearly $1.53 billion to develop its secretive next-generation fighter aircraft, known as F/A-XX. The Department of the Navy wants the funding as part of its Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposal.Can a F 14 beat a Su-57? ›
The Su-57's higher operational altitude and superior flight performance all around will further disadvantage the F-14, leading to an entirely one sided engagement.Can an F-35 beat a Su-35? ›
The Flanker Will Not See The Stealthy F-35 Coming
This way, the F-35 could fire its air-to-air missile toward Su-35, destroying the Flanker with its pilot going down without knowing who hit him.
Of course, I would pick the F-22. Because of it's stealth ability, it will pick up the enemy on radar before the enemy finds it. That means the F-22 shoots first, and he who shoots first usually wins the dogfight. Add to it, the F-22 was designed to be an “Air Dominance” fighter.Has a F-22 ever been shot down? ›
The Chinese surveillance balloon that an F-22 shot down on February 4 showed up amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing, the latter of which has been operating a global network of such balloons across five continents, the Pentagon said.
After $67 billion and more than 20 years, the F-22 finally won a dogfight against an unarmed, nearly immobile opponent. When it officially entered military service in 2005, the U.S. Air Force hailed the F-22 Raptor as an "exponential leap in warfighting capabilities."What jet will replace the F 18? ›
A joint testimony from Department of Navy acquisition officials stated, “The NGAD [family of systems] will replace the F/A-18E/F Block II aircraft as they begin to reach the end of service life in the 2030s and leverage Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) to provide increased lethality and survivability.What is the new 6th generation fighter jet? ›
The US also has a sixth-generation fighter jet – known as the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program – in the works. It is designed to be the successor to its F-22, which along with the F-35, is considered the world's top fighter jet. The NGAD program has similar aims to the joint UK-Japan-Italy plan.What is the secret aircraft of the US military? ›
Examples of United States military aircraft developed as black projects include the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth attack aircraft and the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, both of which were highly classified and publicly denied until they were ready to be announced to the public.What is the toughest plane to fly? ›
What are the hardest planes to fly? The hardest planes to fly include personal aircraft such as the wildly popular Cessna 150/152, Cessna 162, and the Luscombe Silvaire. The hardest commercial aircraft to fly is the BAC Concorde. And the hardest plane to fly in the world is the US military-used U-2 Spy Plane.What is the most difficult modern aircraft to fly? ›
Nearly twice as wide as it is long, the Lockheed U-2 spy plane is one of the most distinctive aircraft in the United States Air Force – and the hardest aircraft to fly, earning itself the nickname “The Dragon Lady”.What is the most aerodynamic plane ever made? ›
|First flight||14 December 1984|
|Primary users||United States Air Force NASA|
Those bursts can shred the armor on a tank. They can also hit unintended targets. Since 2001, the A-10 has been involved in four friendly fire incidents that killed 10 U.S. troops.What is the most difficult fighter jet maneuver? ›
In aerobatics, the cobra maneuver (or just the cobra), also called dynamic deceleration, among other names (see Etymology), is a dramatic and demanding maneuver in which an airplane flying at a moderate speed abruptly raises its nose momentarily to a vertical and slightly past vertical attitude, causing an extremely ...What is the crappiest plane? ›
The Christmas Bullet, later known as the Cantilever Aero Bullet (sometimes referred to as the Christmas Strutless Biplane), was an American single-seat cantilever wing biplane. It is considered by many to be among the worst aircraft ever constructed.
The United States of America maintains the strongest Air Force in the world by an impressive margin. As of late 2021, the United States Air Force (USAF) is composed of 5217 active aircraft, making it the largest, the most technologically advanced, and the most powerful air fleet in the world.Who is the best fighter pilot in the world? ›
A new book examines the life of the WWII German ace. Luftwaffe fighter pilot Erich Hartmann was exceedingly good at aerial combat.What is the secret stealth fighter of the United States? ›
The Nighthawk's maiden flight took place in 1981 at Groom Lake, Nevada, and the aircraft achieved initial operating capability status in 1983. The aircraft was shrouded in secrecy until it was revealed to the public in 1988. Of the 64 F-117s built, 59 were production versions, with the other five being prototypes.Does U.S. have 5th gen fighter jets? ›
The F-35A is the U.S. Air Force's latest fifth-generation fighter.Does the US have a 6th generation fighter? ›
The United States Air Force (USAF) and United States Navy (USN) are anticipated to field their first sixth-generation fighters in the 2030 timeframe.What fighter jet replaced the F-14? ›
The Tomcat was retired by U.S. Navy on 22 September 2006, supplanted by the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.Can any jet beat the F-22? ›
The F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft. A combination of sensor capability, integrated avionics, situational awareness, and weapons provides first-kill opportunity against threats.Can F-35 beat F-15? ›
F-35: The Verdict. By all accounts, the F-15 is highly capable and extremely advanced aircraft. However, when you compare the fighter to the F-35 Lightning II, it's impossible to dismiss the tremendous avionics and stealth capabilities. The F-35 is harder to detect and competes with other 5th generation fighters.How many F 15 jets are going to be replaced by F-22? ›
The F-22, introduced in 2005, was meant to replace F-15 Eagles, but onlt 187 of them were built. The F-22s that were built are highly capable — good enough in fact that one can take on five F-15s.Can j 20 beat F-22? ›
There are other novel features on the J-20 too, such as its double canards and the blended fuselage. It is highly agile, but it doesn't have the thrust vectoring capabilities that the F-22 has. So it overall perhaps falls short of the F-22, but it's still quite capable.
There are some pilots that like to brag the F-16 can defeat the F-35 in a direct race, yet the aircraft is also not specifically designed for that reason. Still, the Mach 1.6 is more than enough to take down and evade enemy targets.Can Russian radar detect F-35? ›
A very advanced Russian Very High Frequency (VHF) Band Active Electronically Steered Array (AESA) radar, claimed to be capable of detecting even low-observable targets like F-35 stealth aircraft, seems to have been destroyed in Ukraine.Is Su-35 better than MiG 29? ›
The Su-35 has a range of about 3,600 kilometers. In this regard, the Mig-29 falls short, as it has a range of nearly 1,430 kilometers. However, both fighter jets have a similar top speed of roughly Mach 2.25. Nonetheless, the Su-35 is famed for its extraordinary maneuverability.What is better than the F-35? ›
The F-22 is faster than the F-35, but both aircraft are considered to be very fast. Range: The F-22 Raptor has a combat radius of approximately 600 nautical miles, while the F-35 Lightning II has a combat radius of approximately 590.Is the F 22 better than the F 35? ›
The F-22 Raptor is the most powerful air superiority fighter in the world, while the F-35 is probably the most advanced multi-role fighter right now. That means that the Raptor is more effective in air-to-air combats (faster and could operate at higher altitude).What is the fastest fighter jet 2021? ›
However, at least theoretically, the MiG-25 remains the fastest operational fighter jet. It broke numerous records and reached the speed surpassed by no other airbreathing jet except for the SR-71 and its derivatives. The MiG-25 was designed first and foremost as a high-altitude interceptor.How much does a Boeing 777X cost? ›
Meanwhile, Boeing's new 777X variants are its other most expensive passenger jets, costing $410.2 (777-8) and $442.2 million (777-9 apiece). Older 777s go for between $306.6 and $375.5 million.Can F-35 beat F 15? ›
F-35: The Verdict. By all accounts, the F-15 is highly capable and extremely advanced aircraft. However, when you compare the fighter to the F-35 Lightning II, it's impossible to dismiss the tremendous avionics and stealth capabilities. The F-35 is harder to detect and competes with other 5th generation fighters.Can anything beat an F-22? ›
The F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft. A combination of sensor capability, integrated avionics, situational awareness, and weapons provides first-kill opportunity against threats.Why is the F-22 being retired? ›
The Air Force proposed retiring the training F-22s in its fiscal year 2024 budget request because they no longer accurately represent the frontline Block 35, which is the combat-coded and -configured version of the fighter.
N628TS is one of several aircraft used by the Tesla and SpaceX founder during his constant travel around the world. Musk is said to also use two other Gulfstream corporate jets, both G550s, with registrations N272BG and N502SX, respectively.What private jet does Kim Kardashian use? ›
The Gulfstream G650ER
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The fastest climb in aviation history. Record of the Sukhoi P-42 (Su-27) to an altitude of 12 km.What fighter jet has the fastest acceleration? ›
With a cruising speed of Mach 3.2 and a maximum acceleration of 0 to Mach 3.2 in just over 12 minutes, the SR-71 Blackbird is considered the world's fastest-accelerating aircraft.Who owns most expensive jet in the world? ›
The United States Air Force owns the most expensive private jet in the world: the Air Force One, which costs an estimated $660 million.Why is the 777X taking so long? ›
Three years later and the 777X program, which was initially intended for a 2020 entry-to-service date, has been repeatedly beset by delays exacerbated by the COVID pandemic - Boeing's latest estimate has deliveries set back by half a decade to 2025 and the program could still face more issues.Why is the 777X so popular? ›
The huge wingspan of the 777X is critical to achieving efficiency. The 777X has a larger wingspan (of 235 feet 5 inches) than any other commercial Boeing aircraft. Larger wings increase lift, which reduces fuel burn.