Stealth jet fighters represent the pinnacle of technological weapons sophistication. They are an integral part of our airforce, and the airforces of developed countries around the world. These stealth fighters are at the bleeding edge of innovation, and will play major roles in future conflicts. Here are the world’s top 5 stealth fighter planes that are above and beyond anything we have seen so far!
Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk
The F-117 Nighthawk is the world’s first operational aircraft designed to exploit low-observable stealth technology. The unique design of the single-seat F-117 provides exceptional combat capabilities.
Country of Origin USA
Length: 65 ft 11 in (20.09 m)
Wingspan: 43 ft 4 in (13.20 m)
Height: 12 ft 9.5 in (3.78 m)
Wing area: 780 ft² (73 m²)
Empty weight: 29,500 lb (13,380 kg)
Loaded weight: 52,500 lb (23,800 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × General Electric F404-F1D2 turbofans, 10,600 lbf (48.0 kN) each
Maximum speed: Mach 0.92 (617 mph, 993 km/h)
Cruise speed: Mach 0.92
Range: 930 NM (1720 km)
Service ceiling: 45,000 ft (13,716 m)
Wing loading: 65 lb/ft² (330 kg/m²)
2 × internal weapons bays with one hardpoint each (total of two weapons) equipped to carry:
GBU-10 Paveway II laser-guided bomb with 2,000lb Mk84 blast/fragmentation or BLU-109 or BLU-116 Penetrator warhead
GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb with 500lb Mk82 blast/fragmentation warhead
GBU-28 Paveway III laser-guided bomb with 2,000lb Mk84 blast-fragmentation or BLU-109 or BLU-116 Penetrator warhead
GBU-31 JDAM INS/GPS guided munition with 2,000lb Mk84 blast-frag or BLU-109 Penetrator warhead
B61 nuclear bomb
In late 2006, the Air Force closed the F-117 formal training unit (FTU) and announced the retirement of the F-117
• First flight: October 31, 2012
• Country of origin: China
The Shenyang J-31 is a Chinese fighter jet that’s earned the nicknames “Gyrfalcon” and “Falcon Hawk.” It’s a twin-engine, fifth generation fighter that’s still in the process of being developed. It was designed and built by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation.
• Length: 55 feet, 5 inches
• Wingspan: 37 feet, 9 inches
Similar to other 5th generation fighter jets like the Sukhoi T-50, the Shenyang J-31 has twin rudders and two engines. It boasts forward-swept intake ramps with diverterless supersonic inlet bumps and trapezoid-shaped wings. The J-31 is the Chengdu J-20’s little brother, smaller and more maneuverable.
• Gross weight: 70,750 lb
• Wing area: 840 sq ft
• Country of origin: China
The Chengdu J-20 is a Chinese stealth jet. It’s a twin-engine, fifth-generation fighter that’s still in the prototype stage. It’s in development by Chengdu Aerospace Corporation, for use in the Chinese Air Force. Its first test flight was on January 11, 2011. Fully operational jets won’t be rolled out until 2018. Production is being stalled by some technical complications, though China is hopeful that it will extend its long-range striking power in the region.
• Length: 66.8 feet
• Wingspan: 44.2 feet
The J-20 was built with a stealth profile in mind, but it already has some critics. Some people think that the J-20’s engine nozzles may compromise its stealth and allow it to be detected by radar. One of the prototypes had WS-10G engines that were constructed with jagged-edged tiles and nozzles, which helped ameliorate the negative stealth impacts.
• Cost: $150 million each
• Country of origin: United States
Developed by Lockheed Martin, the F-22 Raptor is a twin-engine tactical fighter aircraft currently in use by the United States Air Force. It was designed to be an air superiority fighter, but is also equipped to conduct ground attack, signals intelligence and electronic warfare maneuvers. Boeing also collaborated with Lockheed Martin to construct the F-22s, contributing the wings, aft fuselages and training systems.
• Number built: 195
• Crew: one
The F-22 boasts a number of stealth properties, including a precisely engineered airframe with fixed-geometry serpentine inlets, which reduce visibility. It was also built with radar-absorbent material, and has low radio emissions, reduced infrared and acoustic signatures and even a lower visibility to the naked human eye.
F-35 Lightning II
• Cost: $98-116 million
• Country of origin: United States
The F-35 Lightning II, developed by Lockheed Martin, is a single-engine multirole stealth fighter. It is still in development, but it’s in the final stages. Its primary role will be to conduct aerial reconnaissance, ground attack and air defense operations, and will be available in three variations. The F-35 is an evolution of the X-35, the best design from the Joint Strike Fighter program. The development of the F-35 Lightning II is the most expensive military weapons system development program in history.
• Number built: 115
• Length: 50.5 feet
The F-35 uses radar-absorbent materials and was designed to have a low radar cross-section. It also incorporates systems to reduce its infrared and visual signatures. Its acoustic signature, however, is problematic. The F-35 is twice as loud as the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle during takeoff, and four times as loud when landing. The USAF conducted an environmental impact study and found that if they replaced the F-16s at the Tuscon International Airport with F-35s, more than twenty one times more nearby residents would be exposed to unacceptable noise levels.
1. PAK FA T-50
• Cost: $50 million
• Countries of origin: Russia, India
PAK FA translates to “Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation.” It’s a fifth-generation fighter jet currently being prototyped by Sukhoi for use by the Russian Air Force. It will be the first Russian aircraft to use stealth technology, and is intended primarily as an air superiority and attack jet. It is intended to succeed the MiG-29 and Su-27 aircraft.
• Length: 65 feet
• Wingspan: 45.8 ft
Much like the F-22, the T-50 reduces its radar cross-section through the use of planform edge alignment. The edges of its wings and control surfaces are aligned in such a way as to minimally reflect radar waves. Its weapons are carried inside the airframe, and it has recessed antennae as well. Its rear portions feature radar-absorbent material, as well as its canopy.