Disregardimg thrust vectoring and other computer-aided functions, what are all the basic factors of making a fighter jet manoeuvrable? Using basic physics design principles such as high thrust to weight ratio, larger elevators etc., and without complicated programming and systems and changing of thrust directions?

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ This question is far too broad, there are entire books about maneuverability. Furthermore there's no way to explain the principles without complexity. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Jan 10, 2022 at 19:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GdD Sorry I beg to differ. Voting to keep open. $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    Jan 11, 2022 at 6:09

1 Answer 1


Info below is from TU Delft lecture ae4-211, Aerodynamics of the Fighter Airplane, Prof. ir. E Obert.

Fighter jets manoeuvre both in the vertical and in the horizontal plane. At the beginning of WWII dog-fight tactics were a leftover from WWI, when power loading was low and did not differ much between aircraft types, and diving speeds were limited and could be dangerous. Mainly defined by minimum turning radius and maximum roll rate.

In the later WWII years higher power loadings and -maximum diving speeds added exchange of potential and kinetic energy. The fighter generation developed in the 1970s (F-14, F-15, F-16, F-18 Mig 29, Su-27) had:

  • High thrust-to-weight ratio (T/W ≥ 1.0 in combat configuration)
  • Low wing loading
  • High maximum useable lift at high subsonic Mach numbers (wing-fuselage strakes, close-coupled canards).

Resulting in high load factors (up to 8g), high roll rates (up to 300 deg/sec), high angles of attack (30° steady state, >90° transient)


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