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122 votes
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Can a fighter jet be stolen?

Military aircraft rarely have any sort of keys or any sort of authentication systems, they rely on physical security measures to prevent people from getting to the airplanes in the first place, like ...
GdD's user avatar
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105 votes
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Why was the P-51 Mustang not adopted by the U.S. Navy?

The biggest driver behind the use of the P-51 Mustang in naval operations was the need for B-29 escorts while bombing Japan. No naval fighter at the time had the range to accompany the B-29's so the P-...
Ron Beyer's user avatar
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104 votes
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If a pilot ejects, what is the autopilot programmed to do?

I would want to build in a way for the plane to try and save itself if possible (to save money) by auto-landing Had the situation allowed saving the airplane the human pilot would definitely have ...
Hanky Panky's user avatar
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97 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 ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar
95 votes
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Were there any planes used in WWII that were able to shoot their own tail?

The Douglas SBD Dauntless's rear gunner could shoot its own tail. The SBD-5 had two 30-cal machine guns that could be popped out of storage in the aft fuselage and locked into a ring frame around the ...
Rob McDonald's user avatar
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90 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 ...
aeroalias's user avatar
  • 100k
87 votes

The F-16s that were scrambled to intercept United 93 did not have time to arm the jets, so the pilots were going to “ram it” how does that work?

(disclaimer - Former USAF armament specialist) The intention was not necessarily to "ram", but rather get eyeballs on the situation and take whatever action was needed. That may have, ...
WPNSGuy's user avatar
  • 9,077
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 ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar
85 votes

Can a fighter jet be stolen?

I was a pilot attached to Attack Squadron 86 flying A7-E's during the mid-1980's and here is a case where one of our jets was nearly stolen. It is not what you might guess, and as GdD pointed out ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 4,318
83 votes
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What are these engineers doing sitting on a large format drawing of B-47s aircraft?

As commented by Anilv, they are examining a factory production layout/plan. They most likely are attempting to resolve a production or supply problem, though as Anilv suggests, they may also be ...
jwzumwalt's user avatar
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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, ...
Noddle's user avatar
  • 1,025
75 votes
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What is the purpose of the extra wheel on the XB-70 main gear?

It is a sensing wheel that is part of the antiskid braking system. It contains an electronic sensor to measure the true groundspeed of the airplane. See NASA Technical Note D-4836, Landing Loads and ...
Fred Larson's user avatar
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74 votes
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Why did the pilots in Top Gun: Maverick invert at the crest of the mountain before descending?

It’s to maintain a positive loading throughout the maneuver. The F/A-18E is load limited to +7.5G/-3.0G, depending on loadout and flight operations. With a designed in factor of safety of 1.5, the ...
Romeo_4808N's user avatar
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65 votes
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Why was the production of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird halted?

Why did they stop building it? Because they built 32, and that was as many as was needed at the time. 32 spy planes was plenty for the USAF/CIA to use, so building more would have been a waste. By ...
Jon Story's user avatar
  • 10.4k
62 votes

If a pilot ejects, what is the autopilot programmed to do?

To add some context to the other answers... Ejection is not a safe thing to do. The two most popular ejection systems today, the ACES II and Martin-Baker, have around a 90-92% success rate... the ...
tj1000's user avatar
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62 votes
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Why do paratroopers not get sucked out of their aircraft when the bay door opens?

The difference is in the pressurization. An aircraft with skydivers or paratroopers would either not pressurize in the first place or smoothly depressurize the cabin using the outflow valve before ...
Bianfable's user avatar
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57 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 ...
mins's user avatar
  • 74.8k
56 votes

Why do military pilots report "gear down" during their traffic calls?

Other answers mention "it's the rules" without specifying why the rules are what they are. Civilian airplanes are for the most part assumed to be in proper working order after a flight, ...
dotancohen's user avatar
  • 6,377
56 votes
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Why do airplanes bank sharply to the right after air-to-air refueling?

Fighter jets are very maneuverable, so they may make anything from a shallow bank to a breakaway maneuver. The breakaway is a standard way for fighter jets to exit a formation. It provides a way to ...
fooot's user avatar
  • 73.4k
56 votes
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What do pilots landing on aircraft carriers do when the ship is not visible due to weather?

My experience is circa 1990s, but I can offer some perspective on US fixed wing operations. Besides TACAN and ASR for non-precision approaches, there are (were) 3 precision instrument approach options ...
Michael Hall's user avatar
  • 26.9k
54 votes
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Why don't militaries use ram-air parachutes?

You’ve made some faulty assumptions there as the military does use square chutes for specialist parachuting, but rounds are popular for several reason: Static-line round chutes are deployable en-...
Arkhem's user avatar
  • 1,122
53 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 ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k
53 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 ...
Camille Goudeseune's user avatar
53 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 ...
Arnav's user avatar
  • 576
53 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 ...
Michael Hall's user avatar
  • 26.9k
53 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 ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k
50 votes

How were bullets fired through the propeller in the Focke Wulf 190?

Note: See Peter Kämpf's answer for specifically how the Fw 190 Achieved this Electronically This answer is specific to how this was achieved via mechanical means in earlier aircraft and not specific ...
Ron Beyer's user avatar
  • 36.2k
50 votes
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Why would this A-10 Thunderbolt be flown over rural New Hampshire?

Practice makes perfect! Groton, NH (along with a large chunk of rural New Hampshire further off to the north) sits more or less under an area of military Special Use Airspace called the Yankee 1 and ...
UnrecognizedFallingObject's user avatar

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