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114 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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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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94 votes

Why don't aircraft use nuclear propulsion?

TL;dr - too heavy :-) It's just not a good energy source for something like an aircraft. Nuclear energy is superb for instances where you need continuous output over a long period of time, for ...
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  • 1,439
93 votes

Why don't commercial jet aircraft have a break-apart, parachute escape system?

wouldnt that work for keeping a majority of passenger jets from crashing? The majority of passenger jets don't crash. Designing an aircraft like that would incur very substantial weight penalties. ...
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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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75 votes
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Why does an aircraft leave a white smoke trail?

Actually, there are three types of trails an aircraft can leave in the sky: 1. Condensation of water vapor in the exhaust gas and/or the wake This needs the very cold, very dry air at higher ...
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73 votes

Why don't aircraft use nuclear propulsion?

To a large extent, it wasn't revived because the only realistic use case became obsolete. The USA and USSR were both interested in nuclear-powered long-range bombers. The plan was to have a fleet of ...
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72 votes

Locked out of private jet - how do you get in?

It depends on the exact model. Bobby pins or any key that physically fits will get you into some, you'll need real picks for others, and some custom jobs may require a police snap gun or a locksmith's ...
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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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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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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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  • 3,074
59 votes

Why does flight training usually start with (unsafe?) propeller planes and not with (safer?) jets?

Light Propeller Aircraft, if flown within their design limits, are just as safe as jets. If you do a proper and thorough daily inspection, you are far less likely to suffer any form of mechanical ...
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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 passenger jets accept input that will cause the aircraft to perform dangerous maneuvers it was not designed for?

Generally speaking, pilots don't like it when a computer interprets or limits their actions. They want final control. They don't always get their way on this but that's their preference. If I recall ...
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  • 536
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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50 votes
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What is this jetliner seen in the Falcon Crest TV series?

It is a Grumman Gulfstream II business jet, not an airliner. The oval windows are very unique to both the Grumman Gulfstream I business turboprop, and Grumman Gulfstream II business jet. The small ...
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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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  • 98.7k
48 votes

Why does flight training usually start with (unsafe?) propeller planes and not with (safer?) jets?

In the hands of an inexperienced pilot, a jet is definitely the unsafer choice. Due to the general higher speeds, there is less time to recover from errors and they require more anticipation to be ...
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45 votes
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On the F15-E, can the WSO take over if the pilot is incapacitated?

Short answer, yes. However, it is important to note that the WSO is not a pilot. The WSO is trained to operate the weapons systems, not fly the aircraft, but does have basic flight controls ...
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43 votes
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Can a fighter jet land on a modified airliner?

Technically yes. But I am unaware of any attempt to do this with airliners. But there were several designs in the past which used a big airplane or a Zeppelin as a mother ship, which took fighters ...
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43 votes
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Can someone/something other than the pilot trigger the ejection seat?

In a word, yes. There is a switch which controls this and the default position is "both". If any handle is pulled (pull down over the face or the one between your legs), then both seats ...
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41 votes

Is it possible for an SU-25 to fly high enough to shoot down a Boeing 777?

You're asking 4 things here: Can aircraft fly higher than their stated service ceiling? Service ceiling can be exceeded, depending on the aircraft type, loadout, atmospheric conditions, and flight ...
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41 votes
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Why don't big commercial planes have full aircraft parachutes?

The reason for not using full aircraft parachutes can be stitched together by looking at the many related questions. Let me do this for you: Parachutes will only help when something essential fails ...
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41 votes
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What is an afterburner and how long can a jet fly on afterburner?

An afterburner is a secondary combustion system which burns additional fuel downstream of the combustion chamber, to further increase thrust at the expense of much higher fuel consumption. This is ...
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41 votes
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Do jet fighters have air conditioning systems?

Yes. Fighter aircraft have air conditioning systems. In general, they are called as Environmental Conditioning Systems (ECS). Their primary functions (as far as cockpit goes) include, Cockpit ...
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40 votes
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Do fighter jet pilots ever use autopilot?

I'm not in the military, so you could say I'm talking out my rear end here, but based on my experience as a pilot: yes, military pilots use the autopilot all the time. Here's my reasoning, in order ...
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