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I was wondering if fighter jets do have windshield wipers for the rain. Other airplanes do. I can imagine that you don't need them because of their speed but I wasn't able to find some clear information about this. Maybe they use a different kind of windshield wiper, so I'm curious about what they have and use for rainy circumstances for their view.

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No modern US fighter jets are equipped with windshield wipers. At faster speeds they aren't needed as moderate rain simply blows off.

Heavy rain at slower approach speeds will sometimes present a problem however...

The EA-6B, (while not technically a "fighter" by USN vernacular, it was tactical jet flying at similar speeds...) used bleed air from a diffuser at the base of the windscreen to blow heavy rain off during approach to improve visibility. It was airspeed and time limited to avoid excessively heating the windscreen, but was effective enough.

I imagine that most fighters have a similar system.

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    $\begingroup$ The F-4 had a similar system. It was hot, high pressure air from the 17th stage of the compressor. There was a warning in the dash one to not leave it running after landing, lest it crack the windshield. Couldn't have windshield wipers, they would just rip right off at high indicated or calibrated airspeeds. $\endgroup$ Feb 6 at 2:55
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    $\begingroup$ Interestingly enough, naval ships have a rotating glass (plexiglass?) disk mounted on the plate glass window on the bridge, that "slings" the rain off centrifugally. Navy dudes have a special name for this device, that escapes me. $\endgroup$ Feb 6 at 2:58
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    $\begingroup$ @CharlesBretana, I'm sure I've heard it called by some other (manufacturer?) name, but Wikipedia knows it as clear view screen. I wouldn't want to design one to survive fighter speeds, though! Not even if it's prevented from operating above approach speed. $\endgroup$ Feb 6 at 6:49
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    $\begingroup$ They're often called Kent Screens $\endgroup$
    – CSM
    Feb 6 at 14:48
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Fighters or other airplanes without special provisions like boundary layer blowers or wiper systems, that fly in rain a lot, can/will apply water-beading coatings like "Rain-X" or an equivalent product to windshields, which does a good job of providing a decent view even at low speeds because the coating breaks up the water into extremely fine beads.

It's not a bad idea to carry a little bottle of Rain-X in your car. If your wipers fail, applying it can allow you to continue driving in rain in a pinch.

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  • $\begingroup$ At highway speeds Rain-X works wonders in light rain, so should do fine on a fighter, even landing, in mist or light rain. In heavy rain or lower speeds wipers help greatly. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 6 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ The problem with Rain-X is when the wipers are on the blade ends up leaving a layer of microbead fog that follows the blade's movement like a radar display shadow. Really annoying. When I've applied it I've generally avoided using the wipers at all. Some corporate jets and other have windshields with an acrylic outer layer and you want to avoid wiper use. RainX is an ideal alternative. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Feb 6 at 19:16
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    $\begingroup$ I love Rain-X, it just isn't a complete cure-all. Very common in the Pacific Northwest because it is quite good, but not perfect. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 6 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster Yes besides the fogging problem when the wipers are on, I think you can get to an intensity that only wipers can cope with. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Feb 6 at 20:10
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No, because they do not need them.

This video, named See Why Jets Don't Need Windshield Wipers shows an in-cockpit view of an American jet taking off from an aircraft carrier.

You can see that prior to takeoff the canopy is covered in rain drops: cockpit view, rainy condition, prior to takeoff

But due to the acceleration and speed of they are all gone by the time the aircraft is airborne. cockpit view, rainy condition, during takeoff

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    $\begingroup$ A cat launch is definitely different than a standard takeoff roll from a land based runway. Plus, there's always the taxiing portion (even on a carrier) where wind is likely not sufficient to blow rain off a window. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Feb 6 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ @FreeMan Cat launch? Are you referring to the experiemnts where jet pilots took cats into teh cockpit to see how they behave when launched into low gravity? The cats thought that there experiments were zero fun...and made sure that they were even less fun for the pilots. You know, when your view isn't obscurbed by water drops on the windshield but from blood drops. $\endgroup$
    – Klaws
    Feb 7 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Klaws Catapulted launch! Silly! $\endgroup$ Feb 8 at 12:18
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    $\begingroup$ Unnecessary Use Of Cat. $\endgroup$ Feb 8 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ Always nice to see Growler Jams. $\endgroup$ Feb 8 at 16:16

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