Best Fighter Jets of 2021
This is the first operational stealth fighter in the world. It boasts of capabilities such stealth and super-cruise. It is capable of taken the flankers head on. It uses state of the art AESA (Advanced Electronic Scanning Array) radar capable of identifying jets of 1m2 at up to 450+ km and has a quicker and better radar picture guidance then AWACS. Also, to enhance its air to air capabilities, it uses 2D Thrust vectoring capabilities. In the year 2009, Lockheed Martin launched an upgrade program to introduce advanced network fusion capabilities in the aircraft. This capability was tested this year. Besides, it carries internal weapons bay which gives it a low radar cross-section. Of all the latest fighters, this has the highest stealth capabilities. Although, it is a highly maneuverable aircraft, it still isn’t invincible in a dog fight against the latest version of flankers. Even the Eurofighter Typhoon won in a few simulated combat exercises against the Raptor in BVR. With around 200 in operation, it was recently deployed in a strike configuration against the ISIS in Syria.
Russia’s latest 5th gen fighter with capabilities comparable to the Raptor and better than all the Russian 4.5 Gen Flankers. Most of it features have been derived and improved upon from the Su 35. To become operational with the Russian Air Force in 2020, it is a true 5th gen fighter with stealth capabilities second only to the Raptor. However, it has been designed keeping true to the Russian tradition of super maneuverability It features 3D Thrust vectoring nozzles. Although it currently uses the same engines used by the Su 35, a new engine is being developed by Russia to go into the mass produced version. Not much specifications are known about the fighting capabilities of the aircraft because of its infancy and most info is still classified. But, going by its promising capabilities, India has decided to collaborate with Russia and develop an improved version of the PAKFA for its own air force. Tentatively named the FGFA, it is supposed to carry around 40 new improvements to the PAKFA.
Once the pride of the allies, now marred in controversy, this 5th Gen machine is a formidable bird in the sky. It is expected to be inducted in the hundreds, if not thousands by the US Air force and its allies, not to mention the Royal Navy, US Navy and the US Marine Corps. It was stated with the ambitious idea to use the same airframe for 3 different configurations. F-35 A is the regular version, F-35 B is a STOVL version for the Marine Corps and the royal navy, F-35 C with broader wings and a strengthened undercarriage is for the US Navy. The aircraft boasts Stealth, Data fusion, Multi-role capabilities amongst other features. The F-35ABC knows exactly where you are at any approach to them 250–350km away. The APG81 is the most advanced radar to date with a perfect Air Superiority range as well as Ground targets stationary or moving
Chinese J-20 & J-31:
The Chinese fighters have been developed with the help of extensive espionage and reverse engineering processes. Their combat characteristics ranging from avionics to combat range are either classified or scantly credible. So, talking about them is something I would love to refrain from. One of them is a derivative of the MiG 1.44 ( J20) and the other one is an alleged copy of the F-35 with the engines used on the MiG 29 (RD 33). The only thing 5th Gen about these aircraft is the Stealth Coatings (again, derived from a downed F-117 Nighthawk ). But, considering the fact that the Chinese would deploy these fighters along with the flanker copies in huge numbers ( about a 500 – 600) is a formidable deterrent to any invading Air force. Quantity in itself is a quality. This, the Chinese have learnt from the Russians themselves.
Sukhoi SU-35, the Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon
SU-35 would be the my next guess after 5th generation fighter because of its super manuvourablility and most advanced radar with Irst. The SU-35 has 3D thrust vectoring which makes it highly agile probably very similar to the F22. But the F22 has better AOA and doesn’t lose as much energy which is very important. But against any other fighter including the F16 or F15 the SU-35 is a very formidable opponent.
Manufactured by the Euro fighter Consortium, this aircraft has wonderful dog fighting capabilities. In one of the exercises, it actually fared better against the India’s Su-30MKI. In BVR combat, it displayed good results against the F-22 Raptor, thereby further narrowing the gap between 4.5 and 5th Gen Fighters. it owes this capability to its powerful AESA radar. With around 500 aircraft in operation in European Air forces, it has secured the skies over Western Europe from Russian adventurism. Although it is a good dogfighter, when it comes to ground attack, it is not as effective as our next candidate, the Rafale.
Manufactured by France’s Dassault Corporation, it is a very capable 4.5 Gen fighter with exceptional Air-to-Ground capabilities. It recently saw action in Libya & Mali. To be inducted into India’s IAF in large numbers (126 to be precise), it is supposed be a formidable platform well into the 2040s. It features AESA radar, super-cruise, and data fusion amongst other capabilities. Also, it has canard foreplanes for good maneuverability. Although it does not feature an internal weapons bay, it has reduced radar return by the use of composites. Contrary to Russian claims, it can take on the Chinese Flanker variants and fare well.
6. F-16 Block 70, SAAB Gripen and JF-17
F-16 Block 70
The F16 block 70 will be a very capable F16 version with a great new apg-83 radar which adds so much more to these jets. When you can see the battlefield in great view and from 300+miles away you typically have a large advantage over less qualified radars. The F16 is a very capable dogfighter and with its new radar and upgrades it could be as good as any non 5th gen US made fighter.
SAAB Gripen JAS 39
The SAAb JAS 39 gripen radar is capable of locating and identifying targets 120 km (74 mi) away, and automatically tracking multiple targets in the upper and lower spheres, on the ground and sea or in the air. It can guide several beyond visual range air-to-air missiles to multiple targets simultaneously. Saab is able to handle all types of air defense, air-to-surface, and reconnaissance missions.
The JF-17 is a joint production of China and Pakistan. The JF-17 is a single engine, light fighter jet which is capable of tracking ten targets located beyond visual range (BVR) through track-while-scan mode and engage targets at the range of 200km.