Top 10 Best Fighter Jets in the World (Killers in the Sky)

best fighter jets in the world

Do you want to find the list of Best Fighter Jets in the World? This article will not just tell you about the Top 10 Latest and Best Fighter Jets in the World Today but will also show you an overview of their key features, design, avionics, armaments, operational history and of course their Engines. 

Top 10 Best Fighter Jets in the World

Over the last decades, air forces have always been the first military component engaged in all crises or conflicts, from the Falklands to the Gulf, from Bosnia to Kosovo, from Afghanistan to Libya, and more recently Mali, the Central African Republic, Iraq, and Syria.

Military aviation is undoubtedly the most strategic weapon today, both in terms of combat effectiveness and of critical technologies implemented.

In modern warfare, air dominance from day one is a must, so that air-to-ground and air-to-sea operations can be conducted safely and efficiently, and this can only be achieved through an advanced fighter jet that can engage and destroy targets in high threat environment.

This analysis of Top 10 Best Fighter Jets in the World is based on the combined score of stealthiness, armament, speed, range, maneuverability, cost-effectiveness and technology.

However, we also considered each Aircraft: maintenance, operational readiness, avionics and hardware flexibility for delivering different types of armaments and its average turn-around time for maintaining continuous and effective sortie rate in case of a conflict.

All of these aircraft mentioned here are incredibly powerful and devastating, and except for F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II all other fighter jets in this list are involved in military operations and proven their combat effectiveness in recent years.

This list does not contain aircraft that are currently under development or at the prototype stage such as Russian Sukhoi Su-57 (PAK-FA) and Chinese Chengdu J-20. It includes only battle-proven and latest operational warplanes with Airforces around the world.

Here is a list of world’s Top 10 Incredibly advanced multirole fighter jets in the world.

10. PAC/CAC JF-17 Thunder (Pakistan/China)

best fighter jets in the world

The PAC JF-17 Thunder is a lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat fighter aircraft developed jointly by Pakistan and China in 2003. The JF-17 can be used for aerial reconnaissance, ground attack, and aircraft interception role for medium threat environment.

The JF-17 Thunder is initially designed to complement the Pakistan Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16 whose performance it roughly matches, at half the cost, thus providing an excellent option for developing countries to integrate and deploy diverse munition from Western, Chinese and Russian vendors at a fraction of a cost for its major Western rivals.

Equipped with BVR capable air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, and a 23 mm twin-barrel autocannon. It is powered by Russian made Klimov RD-93 (variant of the same engine used on Russian MIG-29 Fulcrum) afterburning turbofan engine and has a top speed of Mach 1.8 with Service Ceiling of 55,500 ft.

Recently, JF-17 Block 2 (dual-seater) version has been produced that provide in-flight refueling capabilities, increased payload capacity and a dedicated advanced targeting pod that provides positive target identification, autonomous tracking, and precise weapons guidance from extended standoff ranges.

9. Saab JAS 39 Gripen (Sweden)

best fighter jets in the world

The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a light single-engine multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab. It was designed to replace the Saab 35 Draken and 37 Viggen in the Swedish Air Force.

In 1979, the Swedish government began development studies for an aircraft capable of fighter, attack and reconnaissance missions to replace its Airforce aging fleet. A new design from Saab was selected and developed as the JAS 39 – which first flew in 1988.

The Gripen has 7 external hardpoints for carrying payloads: one at each wingtip, two under each wing and one on the fuselage centreline.

Gripen is compatible with a number of different armaments including air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9 Sidewinder, air-to-ground missiles such as the AGM-65 Maverick, and anti-ship missiles such as the RBS-15.

It is powered by a Volvo RM12 turbofan engine (now GKN Aerospace Engine Systems), a license-manufactured derivative of General Electric F404 engine with a maximum speed of the aircraft is Mach 2.

A further version, designated Gripen JAS 39E/F, is under development as of 2014; it has been referred to as Gripen NG – that includes a new powerplant, the General Electric F414G engine, an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and significantly increased internal fuel capacity.

8. Boeing F/A-18E and F Super Hornet (USA)

best fighter jets in the world

The Boeing F/A-18E (single-seat variant) and F/A-18F (two-seat variant) Super Hornet are twin-engine carrier-capable multirole fighter aircraft variants based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet.

Designed and initially produced by McDonnell Douglas, the Super Hornet first flew in 1995. Low-rate production began in early 1997 with full-rate production starting in September 1997, after the merger of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing the previous month.

The Super Hornet is equipped with 11 Hardpoints capable of carrying BVR Air-to-air missiles AIM-9 Sidewinder or AIM-120 AMRAAM, air-to-surface missiles AGM-65 Maverick, AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon and Anti-ship missile AGM-84 Harpoon with several other types of precision-guided munition (JDAM) bombs.

The specially designed F/A-18 G (Electronic warfare) variant of the F/A-18F is used by U.S. Navy as a carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft, and include AGM-88 HARM (high-speed anti-radiation missile) air-to-surface anti-radiation missile designed to home in on electronic transmissions coming from surface-to-air radar systems.

F/A-18 are powered by 2 × General Electric F414-GE-400 turbofans engine achieving Max speed of Mach 1.8 and a Service Ceiling 50,000+ ft.

A newer and more advanced variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet is under development with Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFT) and a reduced radar cross section (RCS), with the option of a stealthy enclosed weapons pod and built-in IRST21 sensor system.

7. Sukhoi Su-35 (Russia)

best fighter jets in the world

The Sukhoi Su-35 (NATO reporting name: Flanker-E) is the designation for two separate, heavily-upgraded derivatives of the Su-27M all-weather multi-role air-defense fighter.

In 2003, Sukhoi embarked on a second modernization of the Su-27 to serve as an interim aircraft awaiting the development of the Sukhoi PAK FA (Su-57) program.

Later known as Su-35, this derivative has a redesigned cockpit and weapons-control system compared to the Su-27M and features thrust-vectoring engines in place of the omitted canards, new Irbis-E PESA radar, and upgraded OLS-35 infra-red search and track system.

Powered by 2 × Saturn AL-41F1S afterburning turbofans with the Maximum speed of Mach 2.25, Maximum g-load: +9 g, and a Service ceiling of 59,000 ft. Su-35 is equipped with 12 hardpoints, consisting of 2 wingtip rails, and 10 wing and fuselage stations with a capacity of 8,000 kg of ordnance.

It can carry combinations of BVR air-to-air, air-to-surface, anti-ship missile and is also equipped with advanced avionics complemented by Russian Kh-58U anti-radiation missiles (to detect and destroy enemy radars and electronic warfare aircraft).

6. Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle (USA)

best fighter jets in the world

The McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle is an American two-seat all-weather multirole strike fighter derived from the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle with a proven design that is undefeated in air-to-air combat.

The F-15E was designed in the 1980s for long-range, high-speed interdiction without relying on escort or electronic-warfare aircraft. The Strike Eagle has been deployed for military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya, among others.

During these operations, the F-15E has carried out deep strikes missions against high-value targets, combat air patrols, and provided close air support for coalition troops. Its proven design is undefeated in air-to-air combat, with more than 100 aerial combat victories till date.

Strike Eagle’s is powered by either two P&W F100 or GE-F110 engines that provide 58,000 pounds of thrust, which enable the F-15 to exceed speeds of Mach 2.5, Maximum g-load: +9 g and is equipped with six weapons hardpoints in two rows of three in tandem and can be fitted with two conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) that hug the fuselage (to extend its range).

The F-15E’s tactical electronic warfare system (TEWS) integrates all countermeasures on the aircraft that includes radar warning receivers (RWR), radar jammer, and are all tied to the Lockheed Martin Sniper XR or LITENING targeting pods to provide comprehensive defense against detection and tracking.

Moreover, its advanced AN/APG-82 (AESA) radar, system allows its pilots and aircrews to detect ground targets from longer ranges and can be armed with numerous BVR capable air-to-air, air-to-surface missiles and bombs available in the United States arsenal.

5. Dassault Rafale (France)

best fighter jets in the world

The Dassault Rafale (literally meaning “gust of wind”) is a French twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation.

Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions.

The Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006. Originally scheduled to enter service in 1996, the Rafale suffered significant delays due to post-Cold War budget cuts and changes in priorities.

The aircraft is available in three main variants: Rafale C single-seat land-based version, Rafale B twin-seat land-based version, and Rafale M single-seat carrier-based version.

Powered by  2 × Snecma M88-2 turbofans that provide a maximum speed of Mach 1.8, a combat radius of 1,852+ km, maximum g-load: +9g and service ceiling of 50,000 ft.

Rafale is equipped with 14 Hardpoints for Air Force versions (Rafale B/C), and 13 for Navy version (Rafale M) with a capacity of 9,500 kg (20,900 lb) external fuel and ordnance and provisions to carry combinations of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles.

It has proven its worth in combat in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq, and Syria. In 2015, Egypt and Qatar have each ordered 24 Rafale. In 2016, India has ordered 36 Rafale. On 30 June 2017, 158 Rafale aircraft had been delivered.

Several upgrades to the weapons and avionics of the Rafale are planned to be introduced by 2018 known as the Rafale “F3 R” standard.

4. Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon (USA)

best fighter jets in the world

The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) for the United States Air Force.

Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,500 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976 and widely regarded as one of the best fighter aircraft ever developed.

The F-16 was the first fighter aircraft in the world that include a frameless bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while maneuvering, a seat reclined 30 degrees to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot, and the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system which helps to make it a nimble aircraft.

Powered by 1 × General Electric F110-GE-129 that provide a maximum speed of Mach 2, Maximum g-load: +9.0 g, and a Service ceiling of  50,000+ ft. Equipped with 2 × wing-tip air-to-air missile launch rails, 6 × under-wing, and 3 × under-fuselage pylons (2 of 3 for sensors) stations with a capacity of up to 17,000 lb (7,700 kg) of stores.

The F-16 has also been procured to serve in the air forces of 25 other nations. As of 2015, it is the world’s second most numerous military aircraft and the most numerous airplane in service. F-16s have participated in numerous conflicts, most of them in the Middle East.

3. BAE/Airbus Eurofighter Typhoon (UK, Germany, Spain, and Italy)

best fighter jets in the world

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter and one of the world’s most advanced multi-role combat aircraft available on the market today.

Flexible, agile and enduring, it provides simultaneously deployable Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface capabilities. It’s development effectively began in 1983 with the Future European Fighter Aircraft programme, a multinational collaboration among the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.

However, disagreements over design authority and operational requirements of Typhoon led France to leave the consortium to develop the Dassault Rafale independently.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a highly agile aircraft, designed to be a supremely effective dogfighter in combat. Powered by 2 × Eurojet EJ200 afterburning turbofan with a maximum speed of Mach 2, Supercruise speed of Mach 1.5, Operating range of 2,900 km and a Service ceiling of 65,000 ft.

The Typhoon entered operational service in 2003; it has entered service with the air forces of Austria, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and Saudi Arabia. The air forces of Oman and Kuwait are export customers, bringing the procurement total to 599 aircraft as of 2016.

2. Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (USA)

best fighter jets in the world

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters. The fifth-generation combat aircraft is designed to perform a ground attack and air superiority missions.

The F-35 descends from the X-35, the winning design of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. Its main features include durable, low-maintenance stealth technology, using structural fiber mat instead of the high-maintenance coatings of legacy stealth platforms.

Integrated with advanced avionics and sensor fusion that combines information from off- and onboard sensors to increase the pilot’s situational awareness and improve target identification and weapon delivery and its innovative (F-35B’s) thrust vectoring nozzle and lift fan.

F-35 avionics are designed to control and coordinate multiple unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs). Using its onboard sensors and communications equipment, a single F-35 fighter could orchestrate an attack made by up to 20 armed UCAVs.

The F-35 does not need to be physically pointing at its target for weapons to be successful. Onboard electronic sensors identify targets and Pilot VSI Helmet-mounted display system can track and target a nearby aircraft from any orientation, provide the information to the pilot, and provide the seeker-head of a missile with sufficient information.

Powered by 1 × Pratt & Whitney F135 afterburning turbofan, it can achieve max speed of Mach 1.6, Maximum g-load of 9 g, and a service ceiling of 50,000+ ft. There are a total of four weapons stations between the two internal bays on F-35 (A, B, and C) variants designed for Airforce, Marines (STOVL) capability, and Navy (Carrier) respectively.

Two of these can carry air-to-surface missiles or bombs up to 2,000 lb (910 kg) each in the A and C models, or air-to-surface missiles or bombs up to 1,000 lb (450 kg) each in the B model; the other two stations are for smaller weapons such as air-to-air missiles.

In terms of cutting-edge technology and design, F-35 is the technological marvel of aeronautical engineering, however, in terms of development cost the F-35 program is the most expensive military weapons system in history and has been much criticized inside and outside government, in the U.S. and in allied countries.

By 2014, the program was $163 billion over budget and seven years behind schedule.

1. Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor (USA)

best fighter jets in the world

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor defines air dominance. F-22’s unique combination of stealth, speed, agility, and situational awareness, combined with lethal long-range air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry, makes it the best air dominance fighter in the world.

The F-22 is a fifth-generation, single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed for the United States Air Force.

The result of the USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter program, the aircraft was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but also has a ground attack, electronic warfare, and signal intelligence capabilities.

It is the first operational aircraft to combine supercruise, super maneuverability, stealth, and sensor fusion on a single weapons platform.

The aircraft’s dual Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 afterburning turbofan engines are closely spaced and incorporate 2D pitch-axis thrust vectoring nozzles with a range of ±20 degrees; each engine has maximum thrust in the 35,000 lbf (156 kN) class and can achieve Maximum speed estimated to be Mach 1.82 during supercruise and greater than Mach 2 with afterburners.

The Raptor’s high operating altitude is also a significant tactical advantage over prior fighters. The use of internal weapons bays permits the aircraft to maintain comparatively higher performance over most other combat-configured fighters due to a lack of aerodynamic drag from external stores.

However, due to the high cost of the aircraft, a final procurement tally of 187 operational production aircraft was established in 2009, and the last F-22 was delivered to the USAF in 2012.

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