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Fighter Aircraft Generations: A Reference...

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posted on Mar, 10 2005 @ 09:24 PM
.. then what gen do you suppose the F-15 is in ?

posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 08:29 AM

Originally posted by waynos
I disagree, I don't think that the 'generations' specifically relate to the tech incorporated in the aircraft, but rather are a guide to what you should expect to see in a given type depending on when it appeared.

For instance, to take the F-15 as a case in point.

following a linear path and obviously not including every type to enter service as it would be ridiculous;

The F-86 represents the first gen, these were replaced by the second gen F-100, these were replaced by the third gen F-4, therefore the F-15 which replaced the F-4 is 4th gen, making the Raptor 5th gen. Thats all there is to it really, and it is why talk of the Typhoon et al being 4.5 gen is fudged and wrong.

For instance, following the British line in the same way as I have just done above;

Meteor = 1st gen, Hunter 2nd gen, Lightning, 3rd gen, Tornado, 4th gen, Typhoon 5th gen.

OK, it is less capable than the Raptor overall but it IS the UK's 5th gen fighter, as it is quite literally the fifth generation to go into service. One generation follows another, the subsequent leap in capability is what we expect as a consequence of this (otherwise the new plane wouldn't be worth building). As I said in my earlier post, when the aviation press first referred to 'the first generation of jet fighters' which started the whole thing off, they were talking literally, not in a sense of of performance, this is a meaning we have since, incorrectly, applied to the terminology.

No doubt many disagree with me but this is the historical perspective of the term and I have referred back to publications from the fifties sixties and seventies to back it up. Moving further forward through the publications it appears that it was in fact with the F-22 Raptor itself that the 'generation' was first used as a definition of technology and capability so it is only now that we have corrupted the term, making some observers feel 'forced' to invent the '4.5' definition for non stealthy fighters of the same vintage.

I found this fascinating to discover as I have never reall ythought abouit it too deeply before this thread started.

I beg your pardon. acording your opinion above what does "generation" mean? just replace for a country? I give an example to show as a country equip MiG-23 after equip F-15eagle, will you think for the country the MiG-23 is the next gen. to the F-15?

posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 09:51 AM

.. then what gen do you suppose the F-15 is in ?

the f15-14 are 3.5 th generation plane like tornado or mig31 ,or the last 3th generation planes

posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 12:28 PM
emile, not at all. To go back and use my own explanation, the Hunter replaced the Meteor in the RAF, but it was not a new generation, it was still subsonic, still entirely gun armed etc etc. the next generation of RAF fighters was exemplefied by the BAC Lighning, mach 2, radar, AAM's etc. Itrepresented a quantum leap in capability, and at the same time it swept away all RAF fighters in service before it, therefore as a combination of its newness and it revolutionary nature it defined a new genration.

To go back to your own example, if a country places MiG 23's in service after F-15's the it has bought them in from abroad so it doesn't apply. They would be of the same genration of THAT air forces equipment but it would have no bearing on the global scale, a fighter is of a new generation when it DEFINES that generation and is a clear leap in technology and capability of everything that went before it, hence the fighters that most easily define new genrations are

1 - Meteor, P-80, Me 262

2 - F-100, Super Mystere, MiG 19

3 - Lighting, F-4, Su-15

4 - F-14, F-15 Tornado, Su-27

5 - Typhoon, Raptor, F-35.

Everything else, and I mean everything, fits into the table somewhere between the Meteor and the F-35.

For anyone else still struggling to grasp this definition I will insert some extras, none of that '.5' rubbish as it is simply not necessary.

The F-86, MiG 15 and Hunter were far superior to the Meteor and P-80 but they still belonged to the same generation, the leap came with the F-100.

The MiG 21 was the ultimate 2nd gen fighter, later mods brought it parity with many 3rd gen types but that doesn't change where the MiG 21 belongs. Same applies to the Mirage III and several similar types.

The MiG 23 and 25 along with the F-111 in the USA are strictly 3rd gen.

The F-16 (first flight same year as Tornado, two years after F-15 and three years before Su-27, is quite obviously of the same generation as these aircraft. The same goes for the F-18 and MiG 29

Typhoon deserves it place among fifth gen types because of its overall mission outlook and the complex and advanced nature of its structures weapons and systems, ok it lacks full on stealth but that is not the be all and end all. Rafale is a little less adavanced but still very modern so I'm not going to deny its place among the 5th gen, indeed the fact that it is entering service with France and going to be around for the next two decades at least makes the fact undeniable, whether stealth fans like it or not, the Rafale IS Frances fifth gen fighter, the fact that it is less capable or advanced than Americas is neither here or there.

posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 04:21 PM
again Waynos you take the flight or service date,again with that argument we could say that the mig21 is an 3th generation plane, but that isnt true, look the f15 use that huge wing design because the variable geometry was rejected due the complex sistem and costs and also infuenced by the mig25 -the late studies for fx program was an variable geometry plane-, but that huge wing induce looooot of drag in maneauvres losing energy very easy (but is obvious that the eagle is better than the f4 -aspect ratio and control efficiency also high wing etc...-), that problem was solved by the vortex and lift body aerodynamics, now you dont need an giant wing to sustain the machine (that was original designed for 7gs maneouvres).

the tornado case is like the typhoon, both planes are late 3th and 4th generation machines, by the technology, in the 80s the french industry was more advanced than the rest of europe, the mirage 2000 is a true 4th generation plane

also im not in a debate about "french 4th gene" or "american 3th gene" or "rusian 2th gene", is about worlds aerospace combat technology generations.

if you disagreed with me, with all the respect, please say something new, anyway we have very diferent perspectives about the topic, but is good to debate it.

[edit on 11-3-2005 by grunt2]

[edit on 11-3-2005 by grunt2]

posted on Mar, 12 2005 @ 10:08 AM
Not at all grunt, I know that post was fairly repetitive but after spelling out my view in previous posts I seemed to get a lot of questions like "so where does the F-15 fit then?". That was merely my final attempt to spell out my own viewpoint.

You say I take only flight dates into consideration, read my poast again and this is clearly not true, neither can the F-14 and F-15 be from different generations, just because one is VG and the other isn't doesn't matter, the overall technological state of the art in fighter design was the same when both were designed, they were designed at roughly the same time. This had moved on considerably since the 3rd gen Phantom was designed and is why they are both 4th gen, the reason the F-14 had swing wings wasn't because it was less advanced than the F-15, it was because it was felt by the USN that they wanted them on their new fighter. Likewise Tornado, this is still the worlds best operational strike aircaft yet you say it was not even 4th gen? Ridiculous. Ai9rcraft development also does not happen in convenient blocks where everything is the same until a point is reached where everything changes and we can say "Ooh, the start of a new generation". Design and development is a constant and steady process of evolution. It does not matter that the fighters towards the end of the 4th gen are more advanced and capable than the ones (I say) are at the beginning of the 4th gen. That is exactly what should happen, otherwise what use is an annual R&D budget? They could do it all once every ten years and make it easy for us to see the difference

also im not in a debate about "french 4th gene" or "american 3th gene" or "rusian 2th gene", is about worlds aerospace combat technology generations.

exactly, thats what I was saying! The Raptor is a fifth gen fighter, that is where the world is at now, the Typhoon and Rafale are operational contemporaries of the Raptor, the are od the same generation, they are just not fully stealthy. And how do you work out that Frances tech was more advanced than the rest of Europes in the '80s? Thats news to me.

This argument could go on forever so we may be better off agreeing to disagree and let other people make their own choices which of us, if any, they agree with.

[edit on 12-3-2005 by waynos]

[edit on 12-3-2005 by waynos]

posted on Mar, 12 2005 @ 12:38 PM
Perhaps this is all a matter of historical perspective. I remember an interview with Mikoyan way back when (1970?) and heard about fighter "generations" because, he said, that was the way Soviet designers looked at it.
At that time, anything with a swing wing (SU-19, F-111, F-14) was considered 3rd generation.
But then, they were claiming all sorts of things that weren't necessarily fact.

posted on Mar, 12 2005 @ 01:15 PM
mig25,f15,mig23, f14 ,tornado etc... have similar aerodynamics concepts, and are completely diferent with the f16,f18,mig29, su27 ,mirage2000 and the eurocanards aerodynamics concepts and performance, thats very clear.

now, if some people like to say that f15 and 14 are 4th american generation planes, well thats not my problem, i only try to discuss about worlds aerodesigns generations.

isnt about historical perspective, is about technologic perspective

[edit on 12-3-2005 by grunt2]

posted on Mar, 12 2005 @ 03:45 PM

Originally posted by grunt2
mig25,f15,mig23, f14 ,tornado etc... have similar aerodynamics concepts, and are completely diferent with the f16,f18,mig29, su27 ,mirage2000 and the eurocanards aerodynamics concepts and performance, thats very clear.

[edit on 12-3-2005 by grunt2]

Yes grunt, completely different aerodynamic concepts because the MiG 25 and F-15 are shoulder winged twin jet twin finned single seat fighters and the F-18 and Su-27 are on a minute

the generational dividing line has nothing to do with the shape. Its the overall technological stae of the art that is important. If you don't think the state of the art between the MiG 25 and F-15 is different then you are blinded by the cosmetic form and hardly in as position to make a judgement.

posted on Mar, 12 2005 @ 05:03 PM
waynos, isnt the cosmetic shape, is about the aerodynamic concepts, look the mirage3 looks similar with the mirage2000, but both machines have diferent aerodynamics concepts with the same "cosmetics" (unstable aerodynamics due the diference between mass and lift position), thats not the case between mig25 and f15 that use the high wing, medium aspect ratio, "box" fuselage,etc,etc, -the 25s have better fuselage sustentation- its obvius that there are diferences between both, but the aerodynamics are almost the same.

in the same way the f16 and f18 are in the same class, because both use the lift vortexs, using angled leading edges portions, among other 4th generation concepts.

please post one credible reason, with all respect you arent saying anything with that ...."you are blinded by the cosmetic form and hardly in as position to make a judgement"

[edit on 12-3-2005 by grunt2]

posted on Mar, 25 2005 @ 01:52 PM
the euro fighter typhoon dosent belong to 4.5 Gen(as stated in this forum) it belongs to the 3rd generation ...atleast that's what theirofficial Website claims
to quote
""one of the World''s most advanced and capable 3rd Generation fighters - The Eurofighter Typhoon." "

posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 12:50 AM
Where would you put the F-117, the B-2 and in case it exist the Aurora. I ask this question because the F-117 was developed in the late 70's, the B2 in the 80's and the Aurora in the early 90's.

So what generation are these?

posted on Jul, 23 2005 @ 07:00 AM
Isn't it strange that, throughout the 1970's and 1980's, F-teens were labelled 'third generation'. And only when the RAM-K and M (MiG-29 and Su-27) prototypes became known (and then seen, in Finland and by the Swedes over Bothnia) that we began talking '4th generation'.

I think where most people screw up is in failing to give fighters the same qualifications of 'generation' as we do people. Usually around 14-20 years. Not 10.

While separating out the capabilities of said platforms as a function of those which provide _useful increases in performance_ to the designated mission role of the airframe.

Me-262 through F-100 are _all_ 'day fighters' (so is the F-104 for that matter though the F4D is not and the F-89/94/86D are not and all these served within the 14 year block between 1945 and 1959). Thus they are Generation-1 because they effectively require a human to directly intervene in the aiming/deployment of the weapons systems. So too are Mystere, Ouragon, MiG-15/17 and early 19.

Generation-2 is determined /somewhat/ by supersonic capabilities but more importantly by what those capabilities meant in terms of _requiring_ automation of the weapons system to engage targets. At which point every 'night fighter' became and 'all weather' fighter. If only because you could typically climb through the soup before it iced your airframe. And the reliance upon onboard radar made the use of the unaided eye (and thus time of day) unimportant.

Thus all F-4, MiG-21/23/25 and Mirage III aircraft are Gen-2. Whose _numeric block_ takes you to at least 1973. If not 1978. Ironically, among these would be the Kfir (Whose Elta-2001 is little more than a gunranger, akin to that of the F-86A) and at least the developmental period if not service entry of ALL the F-teens except the Hornet.

The F-teens however are characterized by their own specific performance improvements: digital FLCS (Flight Control Systems) as a function of handling a 1:1 thrust to weight ratio in EM or Energy Maneuver stabilized scenarios (this many G, times this many knot-seconds= this turn rate. Mix and match to beat the enemy 1 or 2 circle fight). Also important are the digital radars (LDSD + reliable EID onboard) and the incorporation of ALASCA seekers and at least the beginnings of PGM use through targeting pods (again, even accounting for the fact that the F-111 and F-4D/E used them long before).

Thus, even though they are technically still within Gen-2, these jets _define_ Gen-3. Including the JA-37 and Su-27/MiG-29/31 and the Mirage 2000 which all came a little later yet in the 1980's. The Tornado F.3 being a hybrid with piss poor aero performance and 'getting better' AI.24 radar, even though it too only entered service in the 80's.

Generation 4 is a mixed bag. As it /was/ envisioned, it was supposed to be everything that Gen-3 was (1:1+ and EM with carefree handling) in a 'no AOA restriction, much smaller, all smart munition' format. Thus you have the European canard clones which really are not that impressive in and of themselves but rather /conceptually dated/ by what was assumed about the F/A-22 that shared their mid-1980's development start date. For the 'ATF' was itself typically represented as a canard delta in early artwork and it's VLO and Supercruise downplayed greatly (even as it had virtually no PGM capability which was something supposedly covered by Agile Falcon and later the ATA).

As things have turned out, the definitions of Gen-4 are in fact split between the avionics/weapons side (netcentric datalink = 'big picture' all round. ARH weapons make much of the preconceived notion of dogfigthing performance irrelevant, LGB and expensive targeting pods largely replaced by offboard/radar cue for IAMs). And the purely physical elements of the resulting Raptor. Which is within 20% of the F-117's stealth performance. And for which _sustained_ supercruise has granted the ability to /get to/ targets as much as fight over them, on a vastly more efficient basis of sortie generation. Of course we have also slipped rightwards from a 1996-98 IOC to a 2005-7 equivalent and slashed procurement of these super-fighters because the Russian threat first went-hollow (technically, they could not match the engineering precision necessary for high quality VLO fabrication and manufacturing) and then collapsed entirely.

In the resultant slump in new production, most of the existing subsystem advances have been fitted to _new variants_ (often with singularly different roles: F-16C.50d and F-15E as well as the Bombcat) of existing airframes. Or developments of same (F/A-18E, a pig in bugs clothing).

The difference being that an F/A-22 with AMRAAM can probably beat a Eurofighter with BVRAAM. But an F-15E with BVRAAM can beat a Eurofighter with AMRAAM.

i.e. the 'physical improvements' COUNT, more than ever, in the absolute sense. But the weapons system/avionics trades make any jet less a function of the crate or the driver than the systems it is fitted with and supported by.

Once you realize that the Europeans were merely suffering penile envy over the F-teens (having self-sabotaged their own fighter development through much of the 50's and 60's). It becomes easy to realize Generation 4 as less a '.5' system. Than simply a 'Tier I/II' separation of the Raptor and everything else.

Only the Super Ho-net is really out of place for timeline or technology scale in being a 'new' (produced) jet. Of a physical design which would never have been accepted even if it had been available in the 1980's.

Generation 5 is composed of one jet only. That being the F-35A. Which seeks to make a /fighter bomber/ that is _cheap_. Nothing more or less. VLO is less and of less quality than the F/A-22 (or at least it was, until the Raptor died a PBD's death). Performance is /vastly/ less for both combat and cruise. And even ease of construction is questionable compared to the superior X-32 alternative (simpler all-from-wing structural dependency rather than an open ended boxframe onto which conventional wing, nose and tail auxilliaries are attached). In this, you are looking less at a technical marvel than what happens when not only the Russians but also the Europeans admit they missed the mark in what was necessary to defeat a modern IADS (S2A defense, above all). And thus any 'success' of the jet is less that of technical superiority than simple plea to buy into the U.S. technology base overall and lever up the relative national means by which 'next generation!' (we will beat you) have parity.
Such is certainly the basis of the 'cheap' factoring in that the F-35 is not a terribly advanced design perse (it's avoinics are nice) and it's structural primitiveness and genuine B-17-with-AMRAAM shift -away from- 'Fightering' can only be justified (on a threat level defined by 2-way missile datalinks and hunting AAM) by making sure that everyone buys some so that both production scalars and threat levels stabilize at one common LCD mean.

i.e. Most of what defines Gen-5 could still be fitted to Gen-4 (faster datalinks, cheaper AESA) but MIB and international trade _politics_ is the definition of it's driving need.

Generation 6.
This is the important one. Because it will most likely invalidate the F-35 (and PAK-FA or J-12, if they ever get here). Not as a function of being a superior fighter. But because they are easier to sustain losses on. As UCAVs. By 2015, most people are saying that THEL and M-THEL will be fielded. And within 5 years of that happening, fighters will cease to be important in most theaters as flash-of-light weapons vaporize airpower from tens of kilometers away.
At which point a 27-30 million Euro EADS-UCAV.
And a 20-25 million dollar A-45. May be the only acceptable means by which you can afford to reenter the trashfire envelope while new standoff weapons (no glide, all boost) and/or optical stealth are created on the basis of not 'fightering' so much as avoiding the ultimate threat to airpower posed by high power DEWs.

Every fighter out there is a piss poor excuse for engineering. Because if you want to kill an enemy, numbers of _losses sustainable_ are the only metric that really counts. And in this, inventing a missile that was based on a high energy target/recce drone (Mirach 600 or BQM-149 Scarab or similar) and which used turbine propulsion to augment a rocket VLS or catapult launch to sit on station for 30 minutes to 2hrs would be /vastly/ more intelligent a use of funds than assuming that 1/50th as many purchaseable Su-27's could -possibly- facedown the 400-700 jets which the U.S. typically brings to theater.

Indeed, ass-u-me'ing you could even SEE such small threats on radar, it is likely that they would cost little more than an AIM-120C. While, through the use of a hunting datalink (OVER HERE!), formating kill (Cooperative Wolfpack target sort) and parachute recovery (Once is Not Enough) augments; you could simultaneously avoid the worst problems of conventional Miss-ile based defenses. And the COSTS OF TRAINING AND OWNERSHIP which plague manned systems.

For about 500 grande to 1 million dollars per 'generation' (20 year wooden round shelf life) of weapons able to kill ANY attacker using a volume-defense like a sweeping curtain of optical seekers. Some 20-60 miles wide and cruising for perhaps 300-400nm with a 30 minute hold reserve and 10 minute fast dash.

It is when you consider this approach to the PROPER WAY (slaughtering piloted airframes as you would murderously rabid animals, not knights-errants deserving 'honorable' combat) to kill airpower. That you realize the whole generational justification for 'best fighter of it's era, please buy some!' is indeed purely commercial hype.

Designed to rape our society of the cash abd scientific resources it could better expend at home, for peaceful means.

Kurt Plummer

posted on Jul, 23 2005 @ 07:13 AM
Well, in my opinion:

1st generation

The 1st generation would be the WW1 planes... Fokker Dr.1, The Sopwith Camel...

2nd generation

The second would of course be made by the WW2 planes... Spitfire, P-47D Tunderbolt, P-51D Mustang, Messerschmitt Bf-109...

3rd generation

The cold war planes, F-86, F-4, F-5...

4th generation

The Nodays planes, the F/A 18, F-16, F-14, F-15, Harier...

5th generation

Well, we aint there yet... But the F-22, x-35, EF, Su-37, J-10...

posted on Jul, 23 2005 @ 01:31 PM
My personal take on Aircraft Generations would be more like this:

For jets aircraft post-WWII, aircraft generations would be more like this:
1st Generation: the Era of sub-sonic/trans-sonic aircraft/fighters.
Some aircraft in this generation would be the: F-86, MiG-15/17/19, F-80, F-100, etc.

2nd Generation: the Era of Vietnam to Cold War aircraft that could go Mach II plus and carried mid-long range missiles.
Some aircraft in this generation would be the: F-101, F-106, Draakan, Mirage III, MiG-21, F-4, etc.

3rd Generation: the Era of transition.
Some aircraft in this generation would be the: Viggen, Mirage F-1, MiG-23 and MiG-27, etc.

4th Generation: the Era of post-Vietnam to present with aircraft utilizing fly-by-wire (FBW), three-dimensional analogue, etc.
Some aircraft in this generation would be the: Su-27, MiG-29, F-14, F-15, F-18, F-16, Mirage 2000, etc.

5th Generation: the Era of present to future aircraft having what has been termed as the 4S: supercruise, supersonic agility, stealth, situational awareness. STOL has been thought to be apart of the 4S.
Some aircraft in this generation would be: F/A-22 Raptor, F-35, etc.

The Russians have sub-divided the 4th Generation into:
4th Generation: Su-27, MiG-29, etc.
4th Generation +: Gripen A/B's, Su-30MKK, MiG-29 to the 'M' variant, etc.
4th Generation ++: MiG-29SMT, Su-30MKI, Gripen C/D's, etc.
4th Generation +++: Rafale, EF-2000, Su-35UB-UBM, MiG-35, etc.
4th Generation ++++ or 5th Generation Minus: PAK-FA, MiG-1.42/44 R&D future demonstrator, F-35, etc.
5th Generation: the concept and not built or tested T-50, F/A-22 Raptor, etc.

The Generation to probably follow 5th Generation will be the Era of pilotless fighters, being autonomous, and having limited AI's. Basically, UCAVs = 5th Generation plus to 6th Generation.


[edit on 23-7-2005 by Seekerof]

posted on Jul, 23 2005 @ 01:32 PM
Ack...double post.


[edit on 23-7-2005 by Seekerof]

posted on Jul, 27 2005 @ 07:49 PM
i would put the F-35 in the 4/4.5 class becaues it doesnt have proper stealth like the FA-22. it also has a slow speed of mach 1.4 and limited weapons load
also 6th generation would not likely be ucav fighters but the like of the FB-22 and maybe the regional attack version of the F-23 if it gets anywhere (yeah right)

posted on Jul, 28 2005 @ 05:32 PM
i rekon that 6th generation fighters will be like the MiG-31 Firefox from the movie Firefox and the FA-37 Talon from the movie Stealth.
mach 5, full stealth (including IR and maybe visual) and similar things.
planes like this wont be seen untill about 2040

posted on Aug, 7 2005 @ 12:16 PM
One thing that I'd like to say is that the Pentagon doesn't want anymore new planes. This is because the fighter jets we have now can still fly for another +thirty years. Not only that, the B-52G StratoFortress can fly for another FIFTY years. Just two weeks ago, the Pentagon decided to cut back on the number of F-22 Raptors and the F-35 J.S.F.s they were wanting to buy.

posted on Feb, 11 2006 @ 03:57 PM
Hi Intelgurl,
I am new here;very informative & I get the impression you are a damn fine human being.

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