Modern Air Combat:
If we wrap it up, the beginning
of Modern air combat was during the Vietnam War, where Air to Air
Missiles were used in combat. Also all the Fighters were Jet propelled.
Jet propelled aircraft were also used in the Korean War and at that time
the best was the U.S. F-86 Sabre These were true jet propelled air superiority fighters, known to be the
best of their time. Yeah, there was a rival too, the Mikoyan-Gurevich
MiG-15. A Soviet aircraft developed by the Mikoyan and Gurevich. It was
the most feared aircraft in the west. This was a true rival to the
Sabre, and was probably better than it. No western aircraft had the
speed, agility and climb rate equivalent to this Soviet Plane. The Sabre
pilots were ready to sacrifice almost anything for an equivalent
capability. They said things like, "I don't need the gun camera,
throw it out, I'll aim with a piece of bubble gum sticking on the
windscreen. I don't want a ejection seat, the hell I will jump
out!" Then was to be developed an aircraft better than the MiG-15.
The Soviets worked on it too. The outcome was the F-104 'StarFighter'
and the MiG-21 Fishbed. Well, the latter creation was so
HORRIBLE that even today the western aviators fear it. American pilots
hardly dared to even dream of combating this aircraft. Most of the
pilots during the Operation Red Flag (which was started to improve the dog fighting
skills) the pilots were basically trained to combat this aircraft. Today, the
largest operator of the MiG-21 variants is India, with more than 700 of
these. Indians will be phasing them out soon enough and replace with the
indigenously developed LCA (Light Combat Aircraft). They plan to upgrade
125 MiG-21s to MiG-21-93 configuration with Radar-Absorbant coating.
Then came the next
generation planes like the F-4 Phantom, F-5 Tiger, MiG-23 Flogger, Su-15
Flagon etc. Sukhoi was (is) another Soviet aircraft developer.
Russians preferably went in for swing-wing designs. Both MiG-23 and
Su-15 had swing wing (also known as variable geometry) design.
In the US a project was initiated so as to develop a strategic bomber,
the XB-70. The Russians were horrified by this and to protect themselves
from this sort of bomber, initiated the MiG-25 Foxbat. This plane can
fly to a top speed of Mach 3.2 at an altitude of 80,000 ft. Although the
XB-70 never obtained operational status, MiG-25 not only flew
successfully but also entered squadron service in large numbers. This
shook the pentagon head to toe. MiG-25 Foxbat flew absolutely unaffected
over Israel, F-4 Phantom II couldn't even reach close to the Foxbat. It
holds the credit for flying flawless reconnaissance missions over
Israel. As far as reconnaissance was concerned, I believe I forgot to
mention the U-2. This was built during the 1950s by USA and was
excellent in its role. One of the most weird looking aircraft after the
SR-71. U-2 made a number of 'illegal' flight passes
In retaliation to the Soviet
MiG-25, the Mc Donald Douglas built the 'F-15 Eagle'. It
proved itself as the finest fighter of all time. 25 Eagles
shot down 280 various enemy planes during the operation Desert Storm
without loosing a single of theirs. Another aircraft that came up was
F-16 Fighting Falcon. Its one of the most capable and versatile aircraft
even today. For the US Navy, there was the F/A-18 Hornet. But all this
while Soviets had been planning how to return the blow. To rival the
Falcon and Hornet, was the MiG-29 Fulcrum. Its sturdy build and
excellent maneuverability was its best feature. It was at that time the
most agile fighter aircraft in the world. And the rival to the F-15
Eagle was the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker. With this aircraft, the Russians not
only reduced the gap between technology on Western aircraft and on
Soviet aircraft, but also surpassed them in many respects. The Flanker
is aerodynamically much more advanced than the Eagle. In terms of
avionics, it was a bit inferior. Today, many upgraded Flanker models
have been made by the Sukhoi Design Bureau. Su-37 Terminator and the
Su-30MKI being the latest and the most advanced. Su-37 has a side-stick.
But the Americans, at present are far ahead of the Russian Sukhoi with
their new F-22 Raptor. This is the most advanced aircraft in the
world. But once again the Americans are not alone, the Russians go neck
to neck with them with the Mikoyan-Gurevich Article 1.42/1.44. This
aircraft is much of a prototype, which recently made its maiden flight.
It is also supposed to incorporate stealth technologies, but most of the
details are top secret.
Note: As I had
previously said that this just an introduction, there are many aircraft
that remain un metioned. You will find them in the database.