In modern terminology, combat aircraft refers to any military aircraft that is used for destruction purposes. In German usage until 1945, however, the term combat aircraft referred exclusively to bombers .
Definition and categorization
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) defines the term "combat aircraft" in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) of November 1990 in Article II as follows:
"Fighter Aircraft" means a fixed-wing or swivel-wing aircraft that is armed and equipped to attack targets through the use of guided missiles , unguided missiles , bombs , machine guns, on-board cannons or other weapons of destruction, as well as any model or version of such aircraft, other military tasks such as B. Perceives intelligence or electronic warfare. The term "combat aircraft" does not include primary trainer aircraft . "
Fighter jets can be broadly divided into three main categories, with some overlap:
- Fighter aircraft are primarily used to combat air targets. There is a distinction between interceptors that are only designed for long-range interception and are not suitable for close combat , such as the MiG-31, and air superiority fighters that can intercept other aircraft and are very effective in close combat, such as the F -15 , F-14 or the Su-27 . As far as they can fight ground targets, they are called fighter-bombers or multi- role fighter planes . Examples are the Saab JAS-39 Gripen , the F-16 or the Eurofighter Typhoon .
- Ground attack or attack aircraft primarily fight mobile ground targets, such as armored ground vehicles. The A-10 Thunderbolt or the Su-39 should be mentioned here.
- Nowadays, bombers are mostly heavy aircraft that mainly fight strategic immobile ground targets such as industrial plants or airports over extremely long distances, sometimes with cruise missiles such as the B-52 ( strategic bomber ). Air refueling is carried out to extend the range .
Today, many combat aircraft can no longer be clearly assigned a role as a fighter, bomber or attack aircraft. Due to the design of the respective type, however, a main role remains even with different loads - often at external load stations . Fighter planes are typically equipped with automatic cannons and bombs, air- to-surface missiles and / or air-to-air missiles . They often have a radar to locate enemy aircraft. In two-seater combat aircraft, a weapons system officer (WSO), who is responsible for operating the weapon systems , assists the pilot .
The afterburner enables a significant increase in the engine thrust and thus the acceleration capacity and the maximum speed of jet-powered combat aircraft, but at the expense of the range. The afterburner requires an additional flow channel between the turbine and the engine nozzle, thus increasing the overall length of the engine. The fuel is sprayed directly into the hot gas flow at the turbine outlet and increases the temperature and volume of the gas jet during combustion. This also increases the pressure in the combustion chamber after the turbine and thus its efficiency . Because of the greater exit speed of the engine jet , the engine thrust increases and with it the speed of the aircraft. Engine nozzles with adjustable cross-sections are required for afterburner operation.
Since the fuel consumption of the afterburner is up to a factor of 10 higher than the normal consumption of the engine, it is only switched on when more thrust is required for a short time. Afterburner enables combat aircraft to reach supersonic speeds. Latest generation jets, e.g. B. the American F-22 Raptor and the European Eurofighter Typhoon , can break the sound barrier in level flight without afterburner with the dry thrust (measure for the thrust of an engine without switched on afterburner) of their normal turbine engines. This ability is called Supercruise .
Fighter aircraft are around 15–20 dB louder than civil aircraft due to the lack of jacket current in some cases .
Another specialty are swivel blades (variable blade geometry). By changing the wing sweep in flight, an optimal flight behavior for the respective speed is achieved. In slow flight, the greatest possible lift coefficient is aimed for in order to achieve greater lift . At high speeds, the wings are swiveled further back, thus reducing air resistance and shock effects at supersonic speeds.
Naval fighter aircraft
Specially constructed combat aircraft can take off and land on aircraft carriers . At take-off, the aircraft are hooked into the sled of a steam catapult on the flight deck on current aircraft carriers , without which the necessary take-off speed cannot be achieved on the short deck. For many years, the planes were attached to the sleds with steel cables, which fell overboard after take-off. This technique was used until recently e.g. B. still used on the French aircraft carriers Foch and Clemenceau , where the steel cable was hooked on the fuselage of the machine and not on the correspondingly more massive nose wheel as in the US Navy . In addition, the aircraft require a landing hook at the landing in a safety rope hooks.
The British Hawker Siddeley Harrier , the Soviet Yakovlev Yak-38 and Yakovlev Yak-141 and the Lockheed Martin F-35B can vertically take off and land. The Harrier and F-35B are currently in active service.
A special form of combat aircraft are the so-called gunships used for ground combat support . These are converted transport aircraft with side armament in order to fire ground targets out of circular flight.
- Reconnaissance plane
- Multipurpose fighter
- Jet fighter
- Single-engine aircraft
- Attack helicopter
- List of jet-powered combat aircraft
- List of aircraft types
- Air war
- Twin-engine aircraft
- Thomas Bättig: Modern combat aircraft. ES Mittler & Sohn, 2000, ISBN 3-8132-0717-X .
- Tom Clancy : Fighter Wing . Heyne, 1998, ISBN 3-453-14132-6 .
- Heinz von Knobloch: Federal Air Force internally. Development, change, operations . Motorbuch, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-613-02790-9 .
- Paolo Matricardi: The history of combat aircraft - from the biplane to the stealth bomber. White Star, Wiesbaden 2007, ISBN 978-3-86726-026-8 .
- Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. November 19, 1990, p. 5 , accessed April 24, 2012 .
- Werner Bergmanns: Fighter Planes. 2011, accessed on October 7, 2015 (English, list of combat aircraft with data and images (by year)).
- Thomas Wilberg: The Virtual Aviation Museum. Retrieved October 7, 2015 .
- The fighter planes of the German Air Force with a detailed description. In: www.luftwaffe.de. Federal Air Force, February 14, 2014, accessed October 7, 2015 .