Fighter Aircraft.


Specifically US based fighter aircraft; why do we skip numbers? I mean we went from the F-14 , F-16, (no F-17?) F-18, then jumped from that to the F-22 and the YF-23 and now the F-35. I assumed it was a generational thing at first then I thought, “What about the F-117 Nighthawk and the SR 71 Blackbird…?”

Edit: Thank you all for your quick replies, it was a conversation topic that popped up at my job and figured I’d ask the fine folks here who are more versed in this sort of thing.

Also…I know the SR-71 isn’t a fighter and was used for recon missions. -_-

In: Other

Many in the lower F series are named for the design number, and they skip numbers for the designs that never made it to production in favour of the next one.

But there’s also plenty of examples of them NOT following this pattern for a variety of reasons, for example the F-117 should have been the F-19 but they changed it to try and confuse the Soviets.

> F-14 , F-16

What about the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle?

> (no F-17?)

You mean the Northrop YF-17 “Cobra”?

> F-18, then jumped from that to the F-22

The F-19 might still be classified, but what about the Northrop F-20 Tigershark, and the Lockheed Martin F-21 made for the Indian Air Force?

You mean you haven’t heard of the F-15 Eagle, or the YF-17 (which lost out to the F-18) or the YF-23 (lost out to the F-22.). You’re only seeing the numbers of the planes which were accepted into service so there will be gaps in the model numbers of in-service aircraft.

There are many sequential F aircraft, as noted on wiki:

There are also some that were specifically non-sequential, like the F-117 and F-35. The SR-71 is a reconnaissance application of the B-71 bomber (which never made it to production); it kept the numbering to reflect the developmental ties.