posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 04:22 PM
is this supposed to be a question over what the best fighter, ever, was... or what the best fighter is today?
I think you have to set-up an equation that factors in A2A victory rates OVER a certain number of engagements, survivability AFTER being damaged,
versatility (years in service spread over theaters and combat roles), cost-benefit analysis, and anecdotal evidence concerning one on one engagements
between pilots of equal ability. Also, things like training accidents and maintenance mistakes need to be factored in... because a well-designed
plane should be pilot and crew friendly.
So... keeping that in mind...
Yes, the F-15 has an awesome A2A record. It's also been operated in a period where the US has mostly lived in relative peace. Unlike the F-4 or
F-86, which had to fly against MiGs flown by Russian 'volunteers' in Vietnam and Korea, the F-15 has only engaged enemy aircraft flown by pilots
from non-major powers. It's also extremely expensive, meaning that its 'bang for buck' ratio probably isn't the same as that for something like a
P-51. So, yes, the F-15 is undefeated, but it's also never been in a situation where the odds weren't in its favor.
So... I gotta say...
That the F-4 is my pick. Yes, it can't fly against anything around today... but for its era it was a dominant fighter, and one that flew in
situations where the success of the mission wasn't ensured. I think it had something like a 12 to 1 victory ratio in vietnam... and its service in
the hands of the Israelis was just devastating. It was also known to be a rugged/damage resistant fighter that could fly a variety of missions with
little redesign needed. When it WAS hit... its crew often made it home.