USAF aircraft page
For information on specific
types of airplanes, click on the links below:
The Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon is an absolutely incredible aircraft. Over 20 years old, it still outperforms most other fighters in it's class. The pilots of the F-16 fondingly call it the "Viper". The saying goes in the Air Force that if you call it a "Fighting Falcon", you get to buy drinks for your squadron. The Viper was one of the first operational aircraft to use "fly-by-wire" electronic controls instead of hydralics. Nimble and small, the F-16 can out-turn and engage enemy aircraft at a second's notice. The pilot sits at a 30 degree recline, allowing him to experience more G's before passing out than the enemy. The agile APG-68 fire control radar (FCR) housed in the nose can switch from its Air-to-Air scan modes:Combined Radar mode (CRM), Range While Search (RWS), Track While Scan (TWS), Velocity Search (VS), and, Air combat Mode (ACM) to Air-to-ground modes such as Ground Map (GM), Ground Moving Target (GMT), and SEA with a flick of a switch. The F-16 is truly a mutirole fighter, able to perform interceptor missions to shoot down enemy bombers, close air support missions to attack tanks and other vehicles over the battlefield. It can perform air superiority and combat air patrol missions to keep the battle zone enemy fighter free. Defense suppresion missions are to kill enemy radar positions. Fitted with a And finally, using lasar guided bombs and AGM-66 maverick missles, the F-16 can precisely attack and destroy enemy targets. This truely is the swiss army knife of military aircraft. With over 3000 aircraft in the skys with a large number of the world's air forces, the F-16 proves its versitility by its popularity. Used extensively by all that own it, the F-16 has been deployed to most of the conflicts from around the world. As of June 1999, the Viper has racked up a 72 to 0 air combat record. An Amazing record for the little airplane that just could .
The McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle truely deserves it's name. Like it's namesake the bird-of-prey, this veteran fighter is fast, amazingly agile for it's large size. It can climb like a rocket heading towards outer space. It has the best radar in the world which can aid the pilot in destroying targets beyond hisfield of vision. It's manuverablilty and firepower used to give nightmares to the best of the Russian pilots. The F-15 can travel at Mach 2.5, faster than the Russian equivalent of the SU-27. It carrys 4 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missle.) and 4 AIM-9 Sidewinder heat-seeking missles. Or it can carry up to 1500 lbs of bombs or other munitions. The size of the eagle has earned it an unusual name with the pilots who fly it. They call it the "Flying Tennis Court" With a wingspan of 43 feet and a lenth of 64 feet, the Eagle deserves that nickname. The Eagle has an incredible record of downing over 100 enemy planes in combat. But no F-15's have ever been lost in aerial combat. This amazing record will give this big bird a special place in the hearts of those who flew, or ever dreamed of flying it. However, by 2005, the Eagle will be 26 years old. going into battle with it would be equivelent to driving a 20 year-old car into the Indy 500. Updating it would cost as much as getting a replacement, and it would still have a 20 year old airframe. For these reasons, the F-15 will soon be replaced in the US Air Force by the incredibly high-tech F-22 Raptor.
go to f-22raptor.com for more info
The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is the fighter of the 21st century. Although still early in the production stage, It is already promising to lead the next generation of fighter aircraft. Incorporating the latest computer, stealth, and design technology, the F-22 will be capable of performing a variety of tasks now being done by many different aircraft. It's unique design allows a single pilot to maneuver the F-22 at both low speeds as well as reach supersonic speeds without using afterburners whill still incorporating stealth technology. Integrated advanced avionics and weapons systems will allow the F-22 to engage mutiple targets simultaneously, allowing the pilot to fly the aircraft as well as search for its next target. Capable of storing air-to-air weapons internally as well as placing advanced air-to-ground weapons on external pylons, the F-22 will be the ideal fighter to cross enemy lines for air combat and precision bombing missions.
The Boeing B-52 is singlehandedly the longest-serving frontline warplane in history. The first of the Buffs ("Big Ugly Fat Fella", the nickname given to the Stratofortress by it's pilots and crewmen.) flew on April 15, 1952, almost a half-decade ago! The Buff quickly became the backbone of the West's nuclear preparedness in the Cold War. If the need had arisen, hundreds of B-52's would have headed for the Soviet Union to drop hydrogen bombs on strategic targets. The specially modifyed B-52D "Big Belly" could carry up to 108 conventional bombs. It was used in the Vietnam Conflict for carpet bombing missions and raised much fear in the hearts of the North Vietnamese. The B-52 has 6 crew members, 2 pilots, a cruise navigator and a bomb run navigator, the electronic warfare officer, who handles all the contermeasure equipment to protect the Buff from enemy threats, and a bombardier/tailgunner. The B-52 is one of the most beloved of all aircraft, and as of now, there are no aircraft that can replace it. The Air Force announced recently that the Buffs will be flying high and protecting our interests until around 2020, when a new bomber, probably designated the B-3, will replace it.
The B-1B Lancer is a multi-role, long-range bomber, capable of flying intercontinental missions without refueling, then penetrating present and predicted sophisticated enemy defenses. It can perform a variety of missions, including that of a conventional weapons carrier for operations in distant lands. The bomber can also serve a number of missions that are currently being flown by the B-52, such as long-range sea surveillance and mine-laying missions. The B-1B represents a major upgrade in U.S. long-range capabilities over the aging B-52 as the mainstay of the bomber fleet. Significant advantages include a low radar cross-section (in laymen's terms, how big the dot on the radar screen is). The abilty to fly lower and faster while carrying a larger load. And advanced electronic countermeasures to enhance survivablilty. The swing-wing design of the B-1B and its 4 afterburning turbofan engines allow for an incredible range and high speeds at low levels. It also allows a short takeoff form bases under attack with means a higher survivablilty rate. The Lancer holds 36 world records for speed, payload, and distance. As with the F-16 and the A-10, no one in the airforce calls this bird by its designated name, instead they call the B1-B the "Bone" A pretty accurate description based on what it looks like.Although classified as a fighter, the Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk is actually a light bomber. Carrying two laser guided bombs and nearly invisible to radar, the Nighthawk struck deep into Iraqi territory during Desert storm. Designed in the late '70s by the legendary "Skunk Works", it flew for 7 years before it made its first public apperance. Operating only at night and with the radar cross-section the size of a seagull's, the black F-117s are virtually invisible to all means of detection. (the entire 59 Nighthawk fleet has a smaller radar cross-section than one B-52) Even the Engines are buried deep within the faceted fuselage, along with grates covering the intakes and a "platypus" styled ceramic exhaust system with the twin butterfly tails blocking the exhaust. The entire exterior of the aircraft is covered in composite radar absorbant materials (RAM), and the cockpit is covered with a layer of gold so radar waves do not penetrate it. All openings have jagged edges for reduced detection and the weapons are stored internally. There are no right angles to be found on ths unique aircraft. Everything was designed so the radar waves reflect away from the origin, drastically reducing the chances the F-117 can be detected. But its not only fancy on the outside, the sophisticated Forward Looking Infrared turret (FLIR) can spot a target from many miles out, in the darkest of nights. One or two miles out, the Downward looking Infrared turret (DLIR) takes over and its laser designator guides the bomb on its course towards the target. Due to its shape, the aircraft is inherently unstable, and relies on a fly-by-wire system to keep it under control. During the gulf war, the 40 F-117s deployed dropped 30% of all allied munitions. The Nighthawk has been used since then, several times in conflicts in the Balkans. It was in Kosovo in 1999 when a F-117 was lost. I personally have not heard about any Air Force official statements on the cause, but if it was indeed shot down, it would have been due to advanced radar systems designed to counter stealth. So once again, in some secret lab, designers are surely at work, creating the next chapter in the book of stealth.
The A-10 and OA-10 Thunderbolt IIs are the first Air Force aircraft specially designed for close air support of ground forces. They are simple, effective and survivable twin-engined jet aircraft that can be used against all ground targets. Known as "Warthogs", the A-10/OA-10 have excellent maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude, and are highly accurate weapons-delivery pplatforms. The can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time and work with other U.S. aircraft such as the AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to destroy enemy targets. using night vision goggles, Thunderbolt pilots can conduct their missions in darkness. The pilots are encircled by titanium armor that also protects parts of the flight-control system. The redundant primary structural sections allow the aircraft to enjoy better survivablility during close air support that previous aircraft. The aircraft can survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high-explosive charges up to 23mm. Their self sealing fuel cells are protected by internal and external foam. The redundant hydralic flight -control systems are backd up by maual systems. This permits pilots to fly and land when hydralic power is lost.The Warthog can also pack a punch. Located in the nose is a 30 mm machine gun that fires milk-carton sized bullets at anything that get's in its way. Sadly. The Thunderbolts are slowing being replaced by more expensive, high-tech aircraft such as the F-16 and Joint Strike Fighter. Never again will the US have such a simple, redundant, and powerful plane.
www.airforce.com-AirForce site (commercial)
www.af.milAir Force site (Military)
www.f-22raptor.com-Probably every single unclassified tidbit on the Raptor lives here.