The Most Popular Fighter Jets in World Service

  • Fighter jets are available for various roles in different militaries all over the world.
  • These are the 10 most loved fighters according FlightGlobal’s 2023 World Air Forces Directory.

Fighter planes are cool. The popularity of media such as movies and video games portraying them reflects the public’s love for the aircraft type. Which fighter plane is the best?

Which fighter planes do military around the globe prefer to fly? The fighter plane of a nation must do more than look great on screen. You must also consider maintenance costs and versatility, in addition to speed and maneuverability.

FlightGlobal published their findings using data from Cirium. 2023 World Air Forces directoryThe site contains detailed information about military aircraft fleets all over the world, including popular fighter jets.

Northrop F-5

F-5 Tiger II

A F-5 Tiger II takes off from Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.

MC1 Joseph R. Vincent/US Navy photo

The F-5 is one the oldest planes on this listing. Despite the fact that its first flight took place in 1959 there are still 403 examples of the F-5 in active service. Many civilians are familiarized the F-5 for its role in the fictional F-5. MiG-28 in “Top Gun.”

The F-5 continues to be flown by the US Navy and Marine Corps as adversary trainers. The F-5 is still used by countries such as Taiwan and Switzerland as a frontline fighter.

Chengdu J-7

Chinese Chengdu J-7 fighter jets

1999: Chinese Chengdu J-7 fighter planes

Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The J-7 Chinese license-built version is the same as the Soviet MiG-21. The J-7 flew its first flight in 1966, but the MiG-21 flew its first flight 11 years earlier.

The J-7 is still very popular, with 444 serving in active service. The J-7 is primarily flown in China by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. However, it is also a popular export aircraft with the designation F-7.

Two of the largest aircraft operators outside of China are North Korea and Pakistan.

Sukhoi Su-25

Su-25 Russia

An Su-25 takes off from Hmeimim, Syria’s air base, in 2015.

Russian Ministry of Defense

The Soviet version is the Su-25. A-10; Subsonic, twin-engined, and designed for close air support

480 Su-25s were first flown in 1975. They continue to serve in active fleets including the Russian Air Force. Russian Su-25s were modernized to ensure they are still relevant in the 21st Century.

The Su-25 is mostly flown by ex-Soviet states, except Russia. The aircraft have served on opposing sides in the same conflict, including the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh WarBetween Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the Russo-Ukrainian War.

Eurofighter Typhoon

ZK438 Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 lights the afterburner for a performance takeoff RAF Coningsby.

A Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon light its afterburner at RAF Coningsby

Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The TyphoonThe collaboration was multinational and involved Italy, France, Germany Germany, Spain and Britain in the design of an air-superiority fighter during World War II.

However, disagreements and collapse of the Soviet Union delayed the aircraft’s first flight to 1994. The Typhoon was not in service until 2003, even though it was already delayed by disagreements and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

522 Typhoons are currently in active duty, including with all the original collaborating nations except France. Austria also adopted it. The Typhoon has been extensively exported to Middle East, where it is currently serving with the air forces of Kuwait Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia.

Lockheed Martin F-35

US Netherlands air force F-35

F-35As of the US and Netherlands flew over the Netherlands February 22.

Tech. US Air Force Sgt. Rachel Maxwell

The development of the resembles the Eurofighter. F-35This was a multi-national collaborative effort.

It was funded primarily by the United States but NATO and other allied countries contributed to the program, including the United Kingdom and Australia, Canada, Norway and Denmark.

545 F-35s have been activated, with more in the pipeline as existing orders are fulfilled and additional orders placed.

The F-35 flew its first flight in 2006, scoring its first victory. first kills in 2018 with the Israeli Air Force. Notably, Switzerland placed an order for the F-35In September 2022, to replace its fleet F-5s. F/A-18s.

Mikoyan MiG-29

Soviet MiG-29 taking off

A Soviet MiG-29 lifts off during an airshow in the UK in September 1990.

DAVE GAYWOOD/AFP via Getty Images

The Soviet Air Force’s iconic MiG-29 is a symbol of its strength. The aircraft was first flown in 1977. 822 MiG-29s are currently in active fleets.

The MiG-29 has been exported to countries other than Russia and former Soviet States.

Surprisingly, MiG-29 now serves in NATOWith the Polish Air Force. It was also said to have been flown by the mythical Ukrainian ace Ghost of Kyiv during the 2022 Russian invasion.

McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F/A-18

F-18 Super Hornet

From the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, an F/A-18E Super Hornet takes off.

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan U. Kledzik/US Navy

The FlightGlobal report lists 828 F-18sIn active fleets. This number implies that Cirium data covers both the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet legacy and the current Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet. The former flew its first flight in 1978, while that of the latter flew its last in 1995.

The US Navy has upgraded its active fleet to include the Super Hornet, but the legacy Hornet is still in service with some Marine Corps squadrons. Canada, Finland, and Switzerland still fly small numbers of legacy Hornets (as well as the CF-18). Australia and Kuwait also fly the Super Hornet.

McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F-15

japan f-15

A Japanese F-15 after refuelling from a US Air Force KC-135 on July 2009.

US Air Force/Angelique Perez

Boeing now owns the McDonnell Douglas product F-15It made its first flight in 1972. Its performance during conflicts like the Gulf War or the Kosovo War in 1990 made it an icon for American air power.

The F-15 is ranked third on this list, with 961 units currently in active service. This is due to a strong export market and modernization programmes. The F-15E has been made into a multi-role, all weather strike fighter by its versatile airframe.

The F-15 is used for export and country-specific variants. It is flown by the United States and Japan, Israel, South Korea and Qatar.

Sukhoi Su-27/30/34/35

Su 27 Russia

A Russian Su-27 fighter jet in August 2010.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

FlightGlobal lists these variants of Su-27 aircraft families and credits it with 1,187 aircraft currently in service.

In 1977, a flight was made to compete with the American. F-14 TomcatThe Su-27 was originally developed into an F-15 Eagle and later became an aircraft. The Su-30, an improved two-seat all weather fighter, is capable of both air-to–air and air–to–surface missions. The Su-34 is a strike/fighter-bomber variant of the Su-27, notable for its side-by-side seating arrangement.

The Su-35, a fighter variant with improved air superiority and multirole fighter capabilities, is back. The Su-33 naval defense interceptor was also developed from the Su-27K. However, it was not listed in the FlightGlobal report.

The Su-27 aircraft family has been exported to countries such as India, Venezuela, China, and Vietnam, in addition to Russia and the former Soviet states.

General Dynamic/Lockheed Martin F-16

Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet

A US Air Force F-16 during Operation Iraqi Freedom (March 22, 2003).

US Air Force/Staff Lieutenant. Cherie Thurlby

The F-16, the iconic fighter plane, is at the top of the list, with 2,184 aircraft in active fleets.

The multirole fighter, which was first flown in 1975, is still in US Air Force service. Even though the US no longer purchases F-16s, it is still purchasing updated versions of the aircraft through Foreign Military Sales.

Belgium was the biggest buyer of F-16s out of the original four NATO partners. The F-16 and its many variants were widely exported outside of NATO to countries like Israel, Morocco and South Korea.

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