In the book 'Pocket guide to military aircraft', they use the term 'Fast jet' for a certain range of aircraft.

Is 'fast jet' a common and well defined term used within aviation? If so, how is it defined? In order to be classified as a 'fast jet', does an aircraft have to be able to reach a certain flight level, speed or other performance indicators? Does it need a certain engine type? Must it look in a certain way?

  • $\begingroup$ Nearly every military plane I know of, I saw them in that guide ( I don't really use my other 5 aircraft books ) $\endgroup$ – anonymous Oct 2 '16 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ @anonymous Can you give and excerpt from the book that uses this term? It would be more helpful in that case. $\endgroup$ – aeroalias Oct 2 '16 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ I have noticed that in British military usage, the term fast jet is common, whereas in American military usage, it is not. This may be a case of first identifying which class of jargon you are hearing or reading. $\endgroup$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 2 '16 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ Jet planes often have what is called "fast cruise" which seems to be a speed above the optimal cruising speed and near the top of the design specs for speed. $\endgroup$ – Michael Oct 2 '16 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ A guess would be "fast jet" indicating a jet that can achieve supersonic flight, ie. most modern fighter jets (F-16, F-15, F/A-18, Su-27, Typhoon, etc). Other jets that cannot reach supersonic, might be called "slow", although most are still fairly fast in their own right (A-10, B-2, B-52, Su-25, etc) $\endgroup$ – SnakeDoc Nov 5 '17 at 22:20

There is no accepted technical term called fast jet. However, this seems to be used in media and other uses, especially in the case of British jets. Most of them seem to refer high speed aircraft (BAE hawk, for example). This conference to be held in London, for example repeatedly refers to fast jets:

BAE Systems provides cutting-edge electronic avionics systems .... Its display systems offer fast-jet pilots a real-world view...

AMPA is used extensively across the RAF from fast jets and helicopters ... (A) pilot following the Fast Jet training system will use AMPA at every stage of their training involving Tucano, Hawk T1 and Hawk T2 aircraft before moving on ...

The British seem to use it regularly, for example for the Hawk advanced trainer:

BAE Systems ... said, “... increase the Indian Air Force’s fast jet training capacity and establish a similar fast jet training solution for the Indian Navy. The Hawk AJT fast jet training solution enables an Air Force or Navy...

My guess is that the usage of term is mostly found in UK (the book also appears to be from there). There doesn't seem to be any consistency in usage. While the examples above include the Hawk among others, another media report (UK again) refers to Dassault Rafale as a fast jet:

French Navy Fast Jet Duo set to thrill Air Day Crowds...

To reiterate, I'm not aware of any precise technical term called 'fast jet' and this seems to be (mostly) a British thing.


In UK Air Traffic Control, the term has particular meaning as per CAP 413 (The CAA Radiotelephony Manual):

When receiving an ATS surveillance service, certain ex-military aircraft types have been granted a CAA exemption from the Air Navigation Order requirement to fly at an IAS less than 250 kt below Flight Level 100. In order to alert the controller to this higher speed profile, pilots of exempted aircraft shall, on initial contact, prefix the aircraft callsign with ‘FASTJET’ or ‘FASTPROP’ (depending on propulsion type), e.g. “Kennington Radar, FASTJET G-ABCD request Deconfliction service”. Use of this prefix shall be confined to initial contact with ATC agencies for periods of flight during which operations at airspeeds in excess of 250 kt are intended. Once acknowledged, it will not normally be necessary for pilots to use the prefix in subsequent transmissions until making initial contact with other ATSUs.

In my experience, Fast Jet will generally be used to refer to pretty much any jet powered single or dual seat (i.e., non passenger carrying) aircraft


Based on this book—Flying Fast Jets: Human Factors and Performance Limitations—it seems to be a loose term that encompasses the performance and operating theater of the modern jet fighter.

The exact characteristics of fifth-generation jet fighters are controversial and vague.—Wikipedia

From what I gather is, if the pilot is required to go through high-G training, then they'll be flying a fast jet.

  • $\begingroup$ But to be called a 'modern jet fighter' what does it have to do? $\endgroup$ – anonymous Oct 2 '16 at 13:49

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