A military aircraft is any fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft, operated by a legal or insurrectionary armed service of any type. Military aircraft can be either combat or non-combat: Combat aircraft are designed to destroy enemy equipment using their own aircraft ordnance. Combat aircraft are developed and procured only by military forces. Non-combat aircraft are not designed for combat as their primary function, but may carry weapons for self-defense; these operate in support roles, may be developed by either military forces or civilian organizations. In 1783, when the first practical aircraft were established, they were adopted for military duties; the first military balloon unit was the French Aerostatic Corps, who in 1794 flew an observation balloon during the Battle of Fleurus, the first major battle to feature aerial observation. Balloons continued to be used throughout the 19th Century, including in the Napoleonic Wars and the Franco-Prussian war, for observation and propaganda distribution.
During the First World War, German Zeppelin airships carried out multiple air raids on British cities, as well as being used for observation. In the 1920s, the US Navy acquired several non-rigid airships, the first one to see service being the K-1 in 1931. Use by the USA as well as other countries continued into the Second World War, the US Navy retiring its last balloons in 1962. Soon after the first flight of the Wright Flyer, several militaries became interested in powered aircraft. In 1909 the US Army purchased the Wright Military Flyer, a two-seat observation aircraft, for the Aeronautical Division, U. S. Signal Corps, it served until 1911, by which time powered aircraft had become an important feature in several armies around the world. Combat aircraft, or "Warplanes", are divided broadly into multi-role, bombers and electronic warfare support. Variations exist between them, including fighter-bombers, such as the MiG-23 ground-attack aircraft and the Soviet Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik. Included among combat aircraft are long-range maritime patrol aircraft, such as the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod and the S-3 Viking that are equipped to attack with anti-ship missiles and anti-submarine weapons.
The primary role of fighters is destroying enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat, as part of both offensive and defensive counter air operations. Many fighters possess a degree of ground attack capability, allowing them to perform surface attack and close air support missions. In addition to their counter air duties they are tasked to perform escort mission for bombers or other aircraft. Fighters are capable of carrying a variety of weapons, including machine guns, rockets, guided missiles, bombs. Many modern fighters can attack enemy fighters from a great distance, before the enemy sees or detects them. Examples of fighters include the F-22 Raptor, F-15 Eagle, Su-27. Bombers are larger and less maneuverable than fighter aircraft, they are capable of carrying large payloads of torpedoes or cruise missiles. Bombers are used exclusively for ground attacks and not fast or agile enough to take on enemy fighters head-to-head. A few have a single engine and require one pilot to operate and others have two or more engines and require crews of two or more.
A limited number of bombers, such as the B-2 Spirit, have stealth capabilities that keep them from being detected by enemy radar. An example of a conventional modern bomber would be the B-52 Stratofortress. An example of a World War II bomber would be a B-17 Flying Fortress. Bombers include light bombers, medium bombers, heavy bombers, dive bombers, torpedo bombers. Attack aircraft can be used to provide support for friendly ground troops; some are able to carry conventional or nuclear weapons far behind enemy lines to strike priority ground targets. Attack helicopters provide close air support for ground troops. An example historical ground-attack aircraft is the Soviet Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik. Several types of transport airplanes have been armed with sideways firing weapons as gunships for ground attack; these include the AC-130 aircraft. An electronic warfare aircraft is a military aircraft equipped for electronic warfare - i.e. degrading the effectiveness of enemy radar and radio systems. They are modified versions of other pre-existing aircraft.
A recent example would be the Boeing EA-18G Growler, a modified version of the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet. A maritime patrol aircraft fixed-wing military aircraft designed to operate for long durations over water in maritime patrol roles—in particular anti-submarine, anti-ship and search and rescue; some patrol aircraft were designed for this purpose, like the Kawasaki P-1. Many others are modified designs of pre-existing aircraft, such as the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, based on the Boeing 737-800 airliner. Many combat aircraft today have a multirole ability. Only applying to fixed-wing aircraft, this term signifies that the plane in question can be a fighter or a bomber, depending on what the mission calls for. An example of a multirole design is the F-15E Strike Eagle, F/A-18 Hornet, F-35 Lightning II. A World War II example would be the P-38 Lightning. Non-combat roles of military aircraft include search and rescue, observation/surveillance, Airborne Early Warning and Control, transport and aerial refueling.
Many civil aircraft, both fixed wing and rotary wing, have been produced in separate models for military use, such as the civilian Douglas DC-3 airliner, which became the military C-47 Skytrain, British "Dakota" transport planes, decades the USAF's AC-47 aerial gunships. The fabric-covered two-seat Piper J3 Cub had a military
A canard is an aeronautical arrangement wherein a small forewing or foreplane is placed forward of the main wing of a fixed-wing aircraft. The term "canard" may be used to describe the aircraft itself, the wing configuration or the foreplane. Despite the use of a canard surface on the first powered aeroplane, the Wright Flyer of 1903, canard designs were not built in quantity until the appearance of the Saab Viggen jet fighter in 1967; the aerodynamics of the canard configuration require careful analysis. Rather than use the conventional tailplane configuration found on most aircraft, an aircraft designer may adopt the canard configuration to reduce the main wing loading, to better control the main wing airflow, or to increase the aircraft’s maneuverability at high angles of attack or during a stall. Canard foreplanes, whether used in a canard or three-surface configuration, have important consequences on the aircraft’s longitudinal equilibrium and dynamic stability characteristics; the term “canard” arose from the appearance of the Santos-Dumont 14-bis of 1906, said to be reminiscent of a duck with its neck stretched out in flight.
The Wright Brothers began experimenting with the foreplane configuration around 1900. Their first kite included a front surface for pitch control and they adopted this configuration for their first Flyer, they were suspicious of the aft tail. The Wrights realised that a foreplane would tend to destabilise an aeroplane but expected it to be a better control surface, in addition to being visible to the pilot in flight, they believed it impossible to provide both control and stability in a single design, opted for control. Many pioneers followed the Wrights' lead. For example, the Santos-Dumont 14-bis aeroplane of 1906 had no "tail", but a box kite-like set of control surfaces in the front, pivoting on a universal joint on the fuselage's extreme nose, making it capable of incorporating both yaw and pitch control; the Fabre Hydravion of 1910 had a foreplane. But canard behaviour was not properly understood and other European pioneers—among them, Louis Blériot—were establishing the tailplane as the safer and more "conventional" design.
Some, including the Wrights, experimented with both fore and aft planes on the same aircraft, now known as the three surface configuration. After 1911, few canard types would be produced for many decades. In 1914 W. E. Evans commented that "the Canard type model has received its death-blow so far as scientific models are concerned." Experiments continued sporadically for several decades. In 1917 de Bruyère constructed his C 1 biplane fighter, having a canard foreplane and rear-mounted pusher propellor; the C 1 was a failure. First flown in 1927, the experimental Focke-Wulf F 19 "Ente" was more successful. Two examples were built and one of them continued flying until 1931. Before and during World War II several experimental canard fighters were flown, including the Ambrosini SS.4, Curtiss-Wright XP-55 Ascender and Kyūshū J7W1 Shinden. These were attempts at using the canard configuration to give advantages in areas such as performance, armament disposition or pilot view, but no production aircraft were completed.
The Shinden was ordered into production "off the drawing board" but hostilities ceased before any other than prototypes had flown. Just after the end of World War II in Europe in 1945, what may have been the first canard designed and flown in the Soviet Union appeared as a test aircraft, the lightweight Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-8 Utka, it was a favorite among MiG OKB test pilots for its docile, slow-speed handling characteristics and flew for some years, being used as a testbed during development of the swept wing of the MiG-15 jet fighter. With the arrival of the jet age and supersonic flight, American designers, notably North American Aviation, began to experiment with supersonic canard delta designs, with some such as the North American XB-70 Valkyrie and the Soviet equivalent Sukhoi T-4 flying in prototype form, but the stability and control problems encountered prevented widespread adoption. In 1963 the Swedish company Saab patented a delta-winged design which overcame the earlier problems, in what has become known as the close-coupled canard.
It was built as the Saab 37 Viggen and in 1967 became the first modern canard aircraft to enter production. The success of this aircraft spurred many designers, canard surfaces sprouted on a number of types derived from the popular Dassault Mirage delta-winged jet fighter; these included variants of the French Dassault Mirage III, Israeli IAI Kfir and South African Atlas Cheetah. The close-coupled canard delta remains a popular configuration for combat aircraft; the Viggen inspired the American Burt Rutan to create a two-seater homebuilt canard delta design, accordingly named VariViggen and flown in 1972. Rutan abandoned the delta wing as unsuited to such light aircraft, his next two canard designs, the Long-EZ had longer-span swept wings. These designs were not only successful and built in large numbers but were radically different from anything seen before. Rutan's ideas soon spread to other designers. From the 1980s they found favour in the executive market with the appearance of types such as the OMAC Laser 300, Avtek 400 and Beech Starship.
Static canard designs can have complex interactions in airflow between the canard and the main wing, leading to issues with stability and behaviour in the stall. This limits their applicability; the development of fly-by-wire and artificial stability towards the end of the century opened the way for computerized controls to begin turning these complex effects fro
The Morane-Saulnier L, or Morane-Saulnier Type L, or MoS-3, was a French parasol wing one or two-seat scout aeroplane of the First World War. The Type L became one of the first successful fighter aircraft when it was fitted with a single machine gun that fired through the arc of the propeller, protected by armoured deflector wedges, its immediate effectiveness in this role launched an arms race in fighter development, the Type L was swiftly rendered obsolete. The original Type L used wing warping for lateral control, but a version designated Type LA was fitted with ailerons. Built by Morane-Saulnier, large numbers of the Type L were ordered by the French Aviation Militaire at the outbreak of the war. In total about 600 Type Ls were built and, in addition to the French air force, they served with the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Naval Air Service and the Imperial Russian Air Service; the type was produced under licence in Germany by Pfalz Flugzeugwerke as the unarmed A. I and A. II scouts. About 60 were built for Bavarian air service.
A few were modified as the E. III fighters. A few Type Ls captured by Germany were fitted with a single German Spandau LMG 08 machine gun; these captured and converted aircraft are mistaken for Pfalz E. IIIs. About 450 aircraft were licence-built in Russia by Lebed works; the Morane-Saulnier L was built under licence in Sweden with some minor improvements as the Thulin D. In December 1914 the famous French aviator Roland Garros serving with Escadrille 23, worked with Raymond Saulnier to create a gun synchronizer, using the gas operated Hotchkiss light machine gun; however the firing rate fluctuated too much for the synchronizer to function properly. As an interim measure, they designed a "safety backup" in the form of braced "deflectors" fitted to the rear surfaces of the propeller blades at the points where they could be struck by a bullet. Garros took his Type L fighter into combat with the deflectors in March 1915 and achieved immediate success, shooting down three German aircraft in April, a noteworthy feat at the time.
The bullets that the French used were not to damage the harder steel of the wedges themselves. On 18 April 1915, Garros' deflector-equipped Type L force-landed behind German lines and was captured before he could destroy it. Three two-seat Morane Type L aircraft were the first victims of the first German fighter aircraft. Leutnant Kurt Wintgens, flying the Parabellum machine gun-armed Fokker Eindecker M.5K/MG prototype E.5/15, a copy of the Morane-Saulnier H with a wire-braced welded steel tube fuselage and fitted with the Fokker Stangensteuerung synchronized gun, downed the first on July 1, 1915, followed by two similar victories on July 4 and 15. About 50 Type Ls were delivered to Britain's Royal Flying Corps, which used them as reconnaissance aircraft during 1915, with a further 25 being operated by the Royal Naval Air Service. On 7 June 1915 one of these aircraft, flown by Flight Sub-Lieutenant Reginald Alexander John Warneford of 1 Squadron RNAS intercepted the Deutsches Heer-flown Zeppelin LZ.37, destroying it, the first Zeppelin to be destroyed in the air.
Warneford received the Victoria Cross for this achievement. Cecil Lewis served with the RFC's Squadron Number 3 in 1916 through the Somme offensive, he flew the Type LA "Parasol" operationally, for over three hundred hours and was awarded the Military Cross. Most of that flying was conducted on a single airframe, RFC serial 5133. In his book "Sagittarius Rising" he recalled of the LA: "I had a look over her, the more I saw of her the less I liked her, it was not love at first sight... the elevator was as sensitive as a gold balance. You couldn't leave the machine to its own devices for a moment... the Morane was a death trap... Subsequently I flew, they were all child's play after the Morane... but I did come to love the Morane as I loved no other aeroplane."Three Pfalz A. II's were used by the Ottoman Empire in an attempt to combat the growing threat of the Arab RevoltA Morane-Saulnier "Parasol" was used for the first flight by an airplane across the Andes on April 13, 1918, when the Argentine aviator Luis Candelaria flew from Zapala, Argentina, to Cunco, Chile.
L basic model LA improved L with faired fuselage A. I with Oberursel U.0 engine A. II with Oberursel U. I engine E. III - A Pfalz A. II armed with single synchronised lMG 08 machine gun ArgentinaArgentine Air Force - One aircraft BelgiumBelgian Air Force BrazilBrazilian Army Aviation CzechoslovakiaCzechoslovakian Air Force - One aircraft FinlandFinnish Air Force - Two aircraft FranceFrench Air Force NetherlandsRoyal Netherlands Air Force - One aircraft. PeruPeruvian Air Force PolandPolish Air Force RomaniaRoyal Romanian Air Force Russian EmpireImperial Russian Air Service SwedenSwedish Air Force - One aircraft SwitzerlandSwiss Air Force - One aircraft TurkeyOttoman Air Force - Original and Pfalz A. II aircraft. UkraineUkrainian Air Force - Three aircraft. Soviet UnionSoviet Air Force - ex-Imperial Russian Air Service aircraft. United KingdomRoyal Flying Corps No. 1 Squadron RFC No. 3 Squadron RFC No. 30 Squadron RFC Royal Naval Air Service Data from Aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps General characteristics Crew: 2 Length: 6.88 m Wingspan: 11.20 m Height: 3.93 m Wing area: 18.3 m² Empty weight: 393 kg Loaded weight: 677.5 kg Powerplant: 1 × Le Rhône 9C 9-cylinder rotary engine, 60 kW Performance Maximum speed: 125 km/h at
The Halberstadt D. II was a biplane fighter aircraft developed and manufactured by German aircraft company Halberstädter Flugzeugwerke, it was adopted by the Luftstreitkräfte and served through the period of Allied air superiority in early 1916. As the first biplane configuration fighter aircraft to serve in combat for the German Empire, it had begun to be superseded in the Jagdstaffeln and other early German fighter units by the superior Albatros fighters in the second half of the year, although small numbers of Halberstadts continued in use well into 1917; the D. II was the production version of the experimental D. I. Key differences between the D. I and D. II included a substantial effort to lighten the aircraft. II engine; the side and frontal radiators, tried in the D. I were replaced by a wing mounted radiator, similar to the arrangement, used by the Albatros D. III and D. V. In comparison with the D. I, the pilot sat higher in his cockpit; this required a dorsal turtleback fairing over the rear fuselage.
The two bay wings were strongly braced, but the trailing edge was composed of a wooden member, as opposed to the wire or cable common on many of the First World War-era German single-engined aircraft. Photographic evidence indicates that many examples were rigged with washout on the lower wings – giving the impression of a curved or twisted lower wing trailing edge. In some photos the upper wings have a similar sort of "trailing edge droop" on the fixed section inboard of the ailerons. Lateral control was by ailerons; the inevitable result was poor control harmonization. The D. II was nonetheless considered to be manoeuvrable in skilled hands: in particular it could reputedly be dived safely at high speed. A single synchronised lMG 08 "Spandau" machine gun fired through the propeller arc. If the only performance figures available for the type are accurate, the Halberstadt fighter’s speed and climb were little better than the Eindecker’s, but it earned the respect of Allied fighter pilots and was a preferred mount of the pilots of the early Jagdstaffeln, until the Albatros D.
I became available. Halberstadts were retained, or returned to service by some pilots during the early weeks of 1917, at a time when the structural difficulties with the Albatros D. III first surfaced. Like other early German fighter types, the D. II was at first supplied in ones and twos to the ordinary six-aircraft reconnaissance units or Feldflieger Abteilungen of the German Air Service: from February 1916 onward through the summer of that year gathered into small specialised fighter units – the Kampfeinsitzer-Kommandos or "KEK" units; when the first true fighter Jagdstaffeln were formed in mid-1916, the Halberstadt was the best fighter available and was used by Oswald Boelcke to demonstrate his famous pioneering air fighting tactics to the new units. His Halberstadt was painted bright blue – one of the first documented instances of the gaudy personal finishes applied by German fighter pilots to their mounts for the remainder of the war. For some reason, the Halberstadt-built D-series fighters bore no marked IdFlieg-issued military serial numbers anywhere on their exteriors.
The licence-built Aviatik and Hannover-constructed examples of the Halberstadt D-series fighters had IdFlieg-issued serial numbers on their rear fuselage sides. As the new Albatros fighters came into service the Halberstadts were replaced, although a few survived into early 1917. Manfred von Richthofen flew a red Halberstadt D. II for a few weeks in February and March 1917, after the spar of the lower wing of his Albatros D. III cracked in combat. Believed to have been first tried within the first six months of 1916, future German rocketry pioneer Leutnant Rudolf Nebel flying as a fighter pilot with Jasta 5, one of the earliest German fighter squadrons within the Luftstreitkräfte, used a Halberstadt D. II aircraft of that unit in the first known German attempt at arming an aircraft with wing-mounted rockets as long range armament. Leutnant Nebel used a set of four improvised tubular launchers, two mounted per side on the wings, with a signal rocket being fired from each tube for the unofficial trial.
According to Leutnant Nebel's "undated" account, he took off on a defensive mission when 25 Allied aircraft appeared in the air near Jasta 5's base. He managed to fire his improvised rocket armament at a distance of 100 m from the Allied fighter formation, in a "head-on" attack at it and scared one British pilot into surrendering as the British aircraft landed safely in German territory, with Leutnant Nebel landing no more than 20 m away, to ensure the British pilot's capture. Just over a week Leutnant Nebel used his improvised rocket armament again and blew the propeller off an Allied aircraft, causing it to crash land. In mid-October 1916, another attempt was made to arm a Halberstadt D. II with rockets, this time for observation balloon attacks with a more formal method, using eight Le Prieur-like rockets mounted on the outer wing struts, the way that the French Nieuport 11 had been armed nearly a year earlier. Problems with the ignition system on the rockets prevented the system from being experimented with any further.
In late 1916, the Halberstadt D. II was the first known aeroplane for an official trial, with a special unit named the FT-Versuchsabteilung (Radio Te
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed for air-to-air combat against other aircraft, as opposed to bombers and attack aircraft, whose main mission is to attack ground targets. The hallmarks of a fighter are its speed and small size relative to other combat aircraft. Many fighters have secondary ground-attack capabilities, some are designed as dual-purpose fighter-bombers; this may be for national security reasons, for advertising purposes, or other reasons. A fighter's main purpose is to establish air superiority over a battlefield. Since World War I, achieving and maintaining air superiority has been considered essential for victory in conventional warfare; the success or failure of a belligerent's efforts to gain air superiority hinges on several factors including the skill of its pilots, the tactical soundness of its doctrine for deploying its fighters, the numbers and performance of those fighters. Because of the importance of air superiority, since the early days of aerial combat armed forces have competed to develop technologically superior fighters and to deploy these fighters in greater numbers, fielding a viable fighter fleet consumes a substantial proportion of the defense budgets of modern armed forces.
The word "fighter" did not become the official English-language term for such aircraft until after World War I. In the British Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force these aircraft were referred to as "scouts" into the early 1920s; the U. S. Army called their fighters "pursuit" aircraft from 1916 until the late 1940s. In most languages a fighter aircraft is known as hunting aircraft. Exceptions include Russian, where a fighter is an "истребитель", meaning "exterminator", Hebrew where it is "matose krav"; as a part of military nomenclature, a letter is assigned to various types of aircraft to indicate their use, along with a number to indicate the specific aircraft. The letters used to designate a fighter differ in various countries – in the English-speaking world, "F" is now used to indicate a fighter, though when the pursuit designation was used in the US, they were "P" types. In Russia "I" was used, while the French continue to use "C". Although the term "fighter" specifies aircraft designed to shoot down other aircraft, such designs are also useful as multirole fighter-bombers, strike fighters, sometimes lighter, fighter-sized tactical ground-attack aircraft.
This has always been the case, for instance the Sopwith Camel and other "fighting scouts" of World War I performed a great deal of ground-attack work. In World War II, the USAAF and RAF favored fighters over dedicated light bombers or dive bombers, types such as the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and Hawker Hurricane that were no longer competitive as aerial combat fighters were relegated to ground attack. Several aircraft, such as the F-111 and F-117, have received fighter designations though they had no fighter capability due to political or other reasons; the F-111B variant was intended for a fighter role with the U. S. Navy, but it was cancelled; this blurring follows the use of fighters from their earliest days for "attack" or "strike" operations against ground targets by means of strafing or dropping small bombs and incendiaries. Versatile multirole fighter-bombers such as the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet are a less expensive option than having a range of specialized aircraft types; some of the most expensive fighters such as the US Grumman F-14 Tomcat, McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and Russian Sukhoi Su-27 were employed as all-weather interceptors as well as air superiority fighter aircraft, while developing air-to-ground roles late in their careers.
An interceptor is an aircraft intended to target bombers and so trades maneuverability for climb rate. Fighters were developed in World War I to deny enemy aircraft and dirigibles the ability to gather information by reconnaissance over the battlefield. Early fighters were small and armed by standards, most were biplanes built with a wooden frame covered with fabric, a maximum airspeed of about 100 mph; as control of the airspace over armies became important, all of the major powers developed fighters to support their military operations. Between the wars, wood was replaced in part or whole by metal tubing, aluminium stressed skin structures began to predominate. On 15 August 1914, Miodrag Tomić encountered an enemy plane while conducting a reconnaissance flight over Austria-Hungary; the Austro-Hungarian aviator waved at Tomić, who waved back. The enemy pilot took a revolver and began shooting at Tomić's plane. Tomić fired back, he swerved away from the Austro-Hungarian plane and the two aircraft parted ways.
It was considered the first exchange of fire between aircraft in history. Within weeks, all Serbian and Austro-Hungarian aircraft were armed; the Serbians equipped their planes with 8-millimetre Schwarzlose MG M.07/12 machine guns, six 100-round boxes of ammunition and several bombs. By World War II, most fighters were all-metal monoplanes armed with batteries of machine guns or cannons and some were capable of speeds approaching 400 mph. Most fighters up to this point had one engine.
The Miles M.52 was a turbojet-powered supersonic research aircraft project designed in the United Kingdom in the mid-1940s. In October 1943, Miles Aircraft was issued with a contract to produce the aircraft in accordance with Air Ministry Specification E.24/43. The programme was ambitious for its time, aiming to produce an aircraft and engine capable of unheard-of speeds of at least 1,000 miles per hour during level flight, involved a high proportion of cutting-edge aerodynamic research and innovative design work. Between 1942 and 1945, all work on the project was undertaken with a high level of secrecy. In February 1946, the programme was terminated by the new Labour government of Clement Attlee due to budgetary reasons, as well as a disbelief held by some ministry officials on the viability of supersonic aircraft in general. In September 1946, the existence of the M.52 was revealed to the general public, leading to calls for official explanation as to why the project had been terminated and derision of the decision.
The Air Ministry controversially decided to revive the design, but as a series of unmanned rocket-powered 30 per cent scale models instead of the original manned full-scale aircraft, under development. These unmanned scale models were air-launched from a modified de Havilland Mosquito mother ship. During one successful test flight, Mach 1.38 was achieved by a scale model in controllable transonic and supersonic level flight, a unique achievement at that time which validated the aerodynamics of the M.52. At that point, the ministry had cancelled that project and issued a new requirement, which would result in the English Electric Lightning interceptor aircraft. Work on the afterburning version of the Power Jets W. B.2/700 turbojet was cancelled and the Power Jets company was incorporated into the National Gas Turbine Establishment. According to senior figures at Miles, the design and the research gained from the M.52 was shared with the American company Bell Aircraft, that this was applied to their own Bell X-1, a ground-breaking high speed prototype aircraft which broke the sound barrier.
Prior to the Second World War, conventional wisdom throughout the majority of the aviation industry was that manned flight at supersonic speeds, those in excess of the sound barrier, was next to impossible due to the insurmountable issue of compressibility. During the 1930s, few researchers and aerospace engineers chose to explore the field of high speed fluid dynamics. While Germany gave considerable attention to exploring and implementing Busemann's theories on the swept wing and its role in drag-reduction during high speed flight, both Britain and the United States overlooked this research on the whole, it was only by 1944 that information regarding the rocket-propelled Messerschmitt Me 163 or the jet-propelled Me 262, both having been equipped with swept wings, did wider attitudes on its merits begin to change. Prior to this point, the British Air Ministry had launched a research programme of its own. In Autumn 1943, the Air Ministry issued a call for nothing less than a revolutionary aircraft in the form of Air Ministry Specification E.24/43.
The Specification sought to produce a jet-powered research aircraft for the ambitious purpose of being able to reach supersonic speeds, faster than any aircraft had flown at that point. It called for an "aeroplane capable of flying over 1,000 miles per hour in level flight, over twice the existing speed record at that time, along with the ability to climb to 36,000 feet in 1.5 minutes." Aviation author Derek Wood described E.24/43 as being "the most far-sighted official requirement to be issued by a Government department...a complete venture into the unknown with engine and control techniques beyond anything remotely considered before". In fact, the specification had only been intended to produce a British aircraft that could match the supposed performance of an existing German aircraft: the 1,000 mph requirement had resulted from the mistranslation of an intercepted communication which had reported that the maximum speed to have been 1,000 km/h; this report is believed to have been referring to either the Messerschmitt Me 163A or the Me 262.
The Miles Aircraft company had its beginnings in the 1920s and made a name for itself during the 1930s by producing affordable ranges of innovative light aircraft the best known amongst these being the Miles Magister and Miles Master trainers, large numbers of both types seeing heavy use by the RAF for fighter pilot training. Although the company's products were low-technology trainers and light aircraft, did not include any jet-propelled aircraft, Miles had a good relationship with the Air Ministry and the Royal Aircraft Establishment, had submitted several proposals for advanced aircraft in response to ministry specifications. Miles was invited to undertake a top-secret project to meet the requirements of Specification E.24/43. The decision to involve the company has been alleged to have been in order to resolve a dispute about a separated contract, mishandled by the Ministry of Aircraft Production. Fred Miles of Miles Aircraft was summoned to the Ministry of Aircraft to meet with researcher Ben Lockspeiser for the latter to outline the difficu
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force. Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,600 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976. Although no longer being purchased by the U. S. Air Force, improved versions are being built for export customers. In 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation, which in turn became part of Lockheed Martin after a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta; the Fighting Falcon's key features include a frameless bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while maneuvering, an ejection seat reclined 30 degrees from vertical to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot, the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system which helps to make it a nimble aircraft.
The F-16 has an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and 11 locations for mounting weapons and other mission equipment. The F-16's official name is "Fighting Falcon", but "Viper" is used by its pilots and crews, due to a perceived resemblance to a viper snake as well as the Colonial Viper starfighter on Battlestar Galactica which aired around when the F-16 entered service. In addition to active duty in the U. S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, Air National Guard units, the aircraft is used by the USAF aerial demonstration team, the U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds, as an adversary/aggressor aircraft by the United States Navy; the F-16 has been procured to serve in the air forces of 25 other nations. As of 2015, it is the world's most numerous fixed-wing aircraft in military service. Experiences in the Vietnam War revealed the need for air superiority fighters and better air-to-air training for fighter pilots. Based on his experiences in the Korean War and as a fighter tactics instructor in the early 1960s, Colonel John Boyd with mathematician Thomas Christie developed the energy–maneuverability theory to model a fighter aircraft's performance in combat.
Boyd's work called for a small, lightweight aircraft that could maneuver with the minimum possible energy loss, which incorporated an increased thrust-to-weight ratio. In the late 1960s, Boyd gathered a group of like-minded innovators who became known as the Fighter Mafia, in 1969, they secured Department of Defense funding for General Dynamics and Northrop to study design concepts based on the theory. Air Force F-X proponents remained hostile to the concept because they perceived it as a threat to the F-15 program. However, the Air Force's leadership understood that its budget would not allow it to purchase enough F-15 aircraft to satisfy all of its missions; the Advanced Day Fighter concept, renamed F-XX, gained civilian political support under the reform-minded Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard, who favored the idea of competitive prototyping. As a result, in May 1971, the Air Force Prototype Study Group was established, with Boyd a key member, two of its six proposals would be funded, one being the Lightweight Fighter.
The Request for Proposals issued on 6 January 1972 called for a 20,000-pound class air-to-air day fighter with a good turn rate and range, optimized for combat at speeds of Mach 0.6–1.6 and altitudes of 30,000–40,000 feet. This was the region; the anticipated average flyaway cost of a production version was $3 million. This production plan, was only notional, as the USAF had no firm plans to procure the winner. Five companies responded, in 1972, the Air Staff selected General Dynamics' Model 401 and Northrop's P-600 for the follow-on prototype development and testing phase. GD and Northrop were awarded contracts worth $37.9 million and $39.8 million to produce the YF-16 and YF-17 with first flights of both prototypes planned for early 1974. To overcome resistance in the Air Force hierarchy, the Fighter Mafia and other LWF proponents advocated the idea of complementary fighters in a high-cost/low-cost force mix; the "high/low mix" would allow the USAF to be able to afford sufficient fighters for its overall fighter force structure requirements.
The mix gained broad acceptance by the time of the prototypes' flyoff, defining the relationship of the LWF and the F-15. The YF-16 was developed by a team of General Dynamics engineers led by Robert H. Widmer; the first YF-16 was rolled out on 13 December 1973. Its 90-minute maiden flight was made at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, California, on 2 February 1974, its actual first flight occurred accidentally during a high-speed taxi test on 20 January 1974. While gathering speed, a roll-control oscillation caused a fin of the port-side wingtip-mounted missile and the starboard stabilator to scrape the ground, the aircraft began to veer off the runway; the test pilot, Phil Oestricher, decided to lift off to avoid a potential crash, safely landing six minutes later. The slight damage was repaired and the official first flight occurred on time; the YF-16's first supersonic flight was accomplished on 5 February 1974, the second YF-16 prototype first flew on 9 May 1974. This was followed by the first flights of Northrop's YF-17 prototypes on 9 June and 21 August 1974, respectively.
During the flyoff, the YF-16s completed 330 sorties for a total of 417 flight hours. Increased interest turned the LWF into a serious acquisition program. North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway were seeking to replace their