Defense Department Review: Five Generations of Military Fighter Aircraft

Department of Defense Photo Essay

  • A flight of F-80 Shooting Stars of the 8th Fighter Bomber Wing return to base following attacks in Korea in 1951. The jet fighter is an example of the first-generation of jet fighters.  DOD photo
  • An F-104 Starfighter carries two AIM-9J Sidewinder missiles during a mission. The F-104 Starfighter is a second-generation aircraft. U.S. Air Force photo
  • A Navy F-4C Phantom II aircraft, the epitome of the third-generation of fighters, was considered a "workhorse" during the Vietnam War and was used by the Air Force, Navy and Marines.  DOD photo
  • U.S. Army Sgt. Robert D. Gray guides a 31st Tactical Fighter Wing F-100 Super Sabre aircraft into its fortified parking place, following a close air support mission over South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. DOD photo
  • A quintet of F-86 Sabrejets of the 5th Air Force's veteran 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing sit on the tarmac after  a combat patrol over enemy territory in this undated photo as crew-chiefs and mechanics make the necessary inspection and repairs to ready the sturdy aircraft for another flight. Air and Space Museum courtesy photo
  • A U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat aircraft sits on the flight line after completing its final flight at Naval Base North Island, San Diego, Calif., Sept. 29, 2006. After 36 years of service, the Tomcat was replaced by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft.  U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Daniel A. Barker
  • An Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle crew flies watch in Afghanistan, July 30, 2011. The F-15 is a fourth-generation fighter.  U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Henry Hoegen
  • F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft taxi down a runway during an exercise at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, March 2, 2012. The F-16 is a fourth-generation fighter.  U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany Auld
  • An F/A-18E Super Hornet aircraft receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft during an aerial refueling mission over Afghanistan, Jan. 22, 2012. The Super Hornet is a fourth-generation fighter. The Super Hornet crew is assigned to U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 81. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. DeNoris A. Mickle
  • An. Air Force F-22 Raptor aircraft takes off at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Sept. 21, 2011. The F-22 is a fifth-generation fighter. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson
  • Two U.S. Marine Corps F-18 Hornets escort a U.S. Marine Corps F-35 Lightning II aircraft as it flies toward Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 11, 2012. The F-35 is a fifth-generation aircraft that also will be flown by the Air Force, the Navy and close U.S. allies.  DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joely Santiago