# How much energy per second would a nuclear reactor need to power a fighter jet?

Fighter jets typically require high amounts of thrust compared to other aircraft. Lets take the F-22 for example, and lets assume the F-22 powered by a nuclear reactor and the F-22 powered by a traditional engine both weigh the same. How much capacity would a nuclear reactor (fusion or fission) need to produce the same amount of thrust as an F-22 engine by heating up the air coming through the intakes?

• One way to approach this is to estimate a maximum total fuel flow rate (e.g., lbm/sec) and multiply that by the specific energy of the fuel (e.g., J/lbm). Wikipedia says the Raptor uses JP-8. Commented Jul 23 at 23:02
• Only if you use the nuclear reactor to refine JP-8.... Commented Jul 24 at 2:25
• energy per second is power Commented Jul 25 at 6:05

Turbofans are built to mainly deliver thrust not power so that it's a bit difficult to convert their thrust in equivalent power.

But as a workaround we can consider a turbofan which is both used to deliver thrust on an airplane and power on a power plant: the GE CF6 is a good example.

Used as jetliner engine, it can deliver 230 to 275 kN thrust; used as power generator, it can deliver 40 to 56 MW.

The two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 powering the F-22 deliver a total of 230 kN thrust dry and 310 kN with afterburner. Being in the same range as the CF6 we can assume that you need a nuclear reactor generating a peak power of some 60 MW.

Something like this should "fit" the bill...

This doesn't directly answer your question of "How much energy..", but this was thought of, tried, and discarded in the 40's and 50's.

One inadequately solved design problem was the need for heavy shielding to protect the crew and those on the ground from radiation; other potential problems included dealing with crashes.

Your assumption of "both weigh the same" can't happen, if you wish the aircrew to live.

• Thanks for the reply. Yeah, i know the weight would most likely not be the same, I was mostly just brainstorming a reality in which it was. Damn you physics! Commented Jul 24 at 4:56
• The crew doesn't have to live in the same state, however. Commented Jul 24 at 15:54