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Why is the maximum speed of current fighter aircraft lower than those from the 1960's and 1970's?

Speed was life in air combat until the jet age. The pilots who became Air Force generals in the Fifties had learned their trade in the Thirties when speed was the most-desired quality in a fighter. ...
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113 votes
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How do jet fighters get to war?

To answer the list in order: Do they fly hop to hop? An F-18 can go 3,000km unloaded (ordnance adds a lot of drag) and that's plenty from Australia. You can get to the Middle East in 4 hops, no air-...
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106 votes
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If all fighter jets become stealthy, how will they fight each other in the future? In dogfights?

Table of contents Future focii Short answer - Important: stealth, sensors (radar & IR), data fusion, networking, long-range weapons. Unimportant: dogfighting with guns. Future counter-...
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101 votes
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Why do fighter jets still have guns/cannons?

The idea that missiles will be all a fighter aircraft needs was prevalent in the late Fifties. The McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II carried initially only missiles, but at the start of the Vietnam war ...
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97 votes
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Why do fighter aircraft manufacturers still focus on making their planes more dogfight-worthy?

That same thinking, "dogfighting is dead", got the USAF and USN in serious trouble in Vietnam. The U.S. Armed Forces were convinced that the next major war would be against the Soviet Union directly, ...
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92 votes
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Why does it take so long to develop modern military jets?

First of all, it took at least five years even back then, but your observation is absolutely correct. You would need to go back one more decade to find a frontline fighter that was designed within ...
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88 votes

Why does it take so long to develop modern military jets?

There are quite a few reasons for this- technically speaking, the primary one is that the system complexity has increased tremendously. More systems mean more interfaces, more redundancies, meaning ...
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86 votes

Are the guns on a fighter jet fixed or can they be aimed?

They are fixed, and many attempts were made over the years to have an aiming capability - and all failed. That should tell you something. The earliest aereal combats used indeed handguns which were ...
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79 votes

How do jet fighters get to war?

I am former fighter pilot: We often fly "hop to hop" but depending on the total distance, the need for urgency, and the distance over water we also fly with tankers and air refuel. Of course the ...
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79 votes

How is radar used to help aiming a gun on fighter jets?

F-16 engineer here. This is from a great article about fire-control radar in fighter jets: For guns kills, if the aircraft has a radar lock on a target, it can accurately gauge range to the target, ...
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72 votes
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How could "aggressor" pilots fly foreign aircraft without speaking the language?

A couple of things come to mind that enable this: you don't become a fighter pilot if you are not intelligent and highly motivated you are not learning a new skill, just doing what you are already ...
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70 votes

Why is this missile positioned in this odd position? How can it be launched correctly?

You're seeing the Sidewinder on the folded up wingtip of the F-18 that is in the foreground out of frame except for its wing tip and missile sticking up at the bottom. The airplane is between the ...
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  • 105k
69 votes

How do fighter pilots manage food, drink & toilet?

Life Strapped to the Rocket Food and Drink Fighter pilots do not have any problem taking food and drinks on flights. The biggest concern is to prevent foreign object damage (FOD) from items like ...
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  • 8,508
64 votes

Why do fighter jets still have guns/cannons?

I guess it's for the same reason that soldiers carry hand-guns. They designed the F-4 without a cannon and added them back in 1965. If you do go up to intercept a plane, if you do ever get close to ...
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56 votes
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Is it possible for an SU-25 to fly high enough to shoot down a Boeing 777?

There is an excellent answer at http://scottlocklin.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/can-the-su-25-intercept-and-shoot-down-a-777/ The SU-25 is a ground attack fighter unsuited to intercepting and/or ...
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54 votes

Why do fighter jets still have guns/cannons?

You can't spoof a bullet with countermeasures. The plain fact is that bullets cannot be diverted or fooled, unlike missiles, for which there are flares, chaff and different electronic countermeasures ...
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54 votes
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Why do military jets sometimes have elevators in a depressed position when parked?

It generally means that the hydraulic actuator (power control unit) driving the surface has an "idle" facility that allows fluid to move internally between the two sides of the actuator piston, or ...
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54 votes
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Why don't combat aircraft have rear-facing *laser* weapons?

Such weapons are not used by countries that abide by the Geneva Convention: It is prohibited to employ laser weapons specifically designed, as their sole combat function or as one of their combat ...
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52 votes

Why are fighter pilots seated and not reclined?

Fighter pilots are far more reclined than you might think. But seat angles are limited by the need for good visibility. Pilots frequently need to look to down-and-sideways, down-and-forward, and ...
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52 votes
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What is this "No Hand Hold" thing in the P-51 Mustang cockpit?

It is part of the gyroscopic gun sight: Source: WarRelics Forum It is not a "hand hold" because you don't want to damage the sight by grabbing the scope to situate yourself in the cockpit (getting ...
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52 votes

Is the F-16 cockpit pressurized?

Yes, the cockpit of the F-16 is pressurized. However, there are two types of cabin pressurization: Isobaric Pressurisation: The system maintains a constant cabin pressure (usually between 2000 and ...
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52 votes
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How do you win a simulated dogfight/Air-to-Air engagement?

Bear in mind that most of my maneuvering was done from a defensive position due to the aircraft I flew, and that my experience spanned a period 15-30 years ago. But, I have some perspective that may ...
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52 votes
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Can anyone identify what appears to be a crashed WWII German plane?

It's a P-47 Thunderbolt, the original "razorback" version (not the later ones with the bubble canopy and cut-down rear fuselage). The instant giveaway is the V shaped windshield, which had ...
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  • 105k
51 votes

How do aircraft refueling in-air deal with wake turbulence?

Ex US Navy pilot here. I flew the S-3 Viking, which refueled via the probe/drogue method, as opposed to the USAF flying boom method. I can confirm that the receiving plane is below the wake ...
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51 votes
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What are these wavy lines on fighters' canopy?

It is an explosive cord which helps to crack the canopy (pdf!) before the ejection seat has to do this all by itself. When ejection is commanded, the harness is tightened and the canopy is shattered, ...
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51 votes
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What is the purpose of the "Mirror-Thing" over the Mig-29 Cockpit?

Additional details to Marco's selected answer. On the two-seater version, the instructor seat (aft) is not high enough, contrary to other training aircraft, to see the runway. A forward view mirror ...
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51 votes

Why is the maximum speed of current fighter aircraft lower than those from the 1960's and 1970's?

Because while speed is one of the important characteristics, it is not the only important characteristic (or today, not the most important one) of a combat aircraft. One important thing to note is ...
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49 votes
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How is a missile lock detected?

To add some data to Matthew's answer: Anti aircraft missiles come in basically 4 types (some others have been tried but aren't in common use). Active radar homing Passive radar homing Infrared ...
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49 votes
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Are the guns on a fighter jet fixed or can they be aimed?

The guns of modern fighter jets are fixed to the airframe—they can't be moved in any direction; the pilot has to maneuver the aircraft to bring the guns to bear. The image shows the mounting of ...
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  • 98.6k
49 votes

What is the rationale for single engine military aircraft?

Because single engine fighters are substantially cheaper to purchase and operate. Exact figures are hard to obtain, but as an example, an F-15 squadron will spend about 25,000 USD per flight hour ...
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