Even the mention of the words "fighter jets" pumps enough adrenaline to feel energised. The roar of a fighter engine that powers a small airframe with a bullet-like speed is not the only aspect, which makes it a formidable weapon. Its maneuverability and capacity to carry out attacks well beyond frontiers has made a fighter jet an integral part of military strategy.
There was a time when anyone who ruled the sea was presumed to control the world. Today, anyone who has a hold over the sky controls the land. Air superiority is the key and fighter jets are central to it. The fighter jet technology has grown at a rapid pace. Modern fighters are multi-role aircraft capable of both attacking and defending. The use of aircraft for military purposes started during the World War I when the aeroplanes, which were still in experimental stages, were dragged into the battlefields to score over the opponents. Over the years, it has evolved into a technological marvel that was aided and abetted by the cold war.
There was a mad rush between the Americans and the Russians to out do each other in producing fighter jets. The MiGs became a frontline weapon for Russians and its allies. The Americans brought out a wide array of fighters ranging from F-15s, F-16s, F-18s to F-22 Raptors. Between these two, Europeans, particularly the French and the British, came out with their own potent machines that not only were innovative but also matched the best in the business. The Americans displayed to the world the meaning of the words air superiority during the Gulf War of early 1990s. Phrases like carpet bombings and lightening strikes were being talked about it in households as people across the world watched on their television sets fighter jets pounding Iraq.
FIXED WING AIRCRAFT
Aircraft which has the fuselage attached to the wings is the fixed wing aircraft. Fixed wing aircraft are different from helicopters or hovercraft in the sense that they do not use wings to generate thrust and lift. In this category of aircraft, wings generate lift by forward motion through the air. In other words, they need a runway to take off or land. The reliability, efficiency and maneuverability of these machines have made them the mainstay of aviation.
The usage of aircraft for military purposes started during the World War, but today the air power is the most potent weapon in military operations. Armed forces around the world fly a wide array of aircraft designed to perform various roles – attack, bombers, refueling, transport, surveillance, patrol and training. CC
The scope of air power is much beyond bombing the enemy territory or striking down an intruding plane. The technology of military aircraft is changing fast and it has given a new dimension to modern warfare. Electronic warfare and airborne early warning systems have made militaries completely reliant on their air assets.
For every military fixed wing application, there are a large number of platforms available. The fighter jet technology has entered the fifth generation. The induction of refuellers in air forces around the world has blurred the distance factor in launching operations. Mid-air refueling of fighters has provided them extra wings. The surveillance and early warning systems has become an eye in the air giving crucial feedback to forces on the ground to make them better prepared.
Aviation is not the domain of air force alone; its application in naval operations has assumed significance over the years. Big navies flying fighters and helicopters from carriers and warships have an essential air component.
The role of military aviation was re-defined during the first Gulf war in the early 1990s when the concept of carpet bombing and maintaining air dominance was never so forcefully established. It was repeated in the second Gulf war and subsequent US operations in Afghanistan. A wide variety of military aviation hardware is available and the leaders are companies from the US, Russia and Europe.
Military strategies are incomplete without the use of air power, a fact that has been learnt by all the major armed forces in the world. In the peacetime also, the aircraft have been used to carry out search and rescue operations during national calamities and disaster management.
- Know How