What are each of the F series fighter jets from the US military used for?

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From what I understand, we have the F-15, F-16, F-117, F-22 and F-35.

Why do we need all these different models? I assume each specializes in something…what is it?

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12 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

some have stealth capabilities; some are just “older model” of the same purpose aircraft; some are built more single purpose……like speed and others are more general purpose.

combat is always evolving, from a geograpgic perspective and a technological one. Arms races are real and you dont want any of your vehicles/weapons/armorments/…..stuff to be less advanced than your enemy

Anonymous 0 Comments

I can’t speak what they were/are used for, but I’m sure each one is better than the one before it. But when we have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on them, we still keep them. That’s why they are used overlapping each other. Eventually a model will be retired, but just because the new one comes out doesn’t mean you get rid of the previous one.

Anonymous 0 Comments

F-15 – mule for missiles, good dogfighter and originally designed as an air superiority fighter. F-16 originally designed for air combat, however with mid-life upgrades can complete other missions aswell. F-117 purely a stealth bomber. F-22 air superiority stealth fighter to gain the control of airspace. F-35 designed to be the jack of all trades in modern combat scenarios. It also distributes heaps of information to ground and other troops aswell.

Anonymous 0 Comments

F is just their classification which I believe is just “Fighter” meaning they are either air superiority aircraft or some variety of multi-role that can do both air to air and air to ground missions.

Back before and during WW2 instead of F they used P which I believe stood for “Pursuit” which is why we have the P-47, P-38, P-51, etc. and then B for “Bomber” which we still use today.

Anonymous 0 Comments

F stands for fighter, A for attack. Some jets are F/A-XX jets. The F-117 is the notable example in the planes you listed, it’s technically a stealth bomber but they labeled it a fighter in case information/ logbooks were leaked our enemies would think we were developing another fighter not one or the greatest stealth bombers of all time. They have different roles, some are absolutely incredible in dogfights (F16), but have absolutely minimal stealth and armor. Others are incredibly stealthy, but not the most maneuverable (F35) vs (f18/22) they each have their role. So at face value that’s why we have so many different models, in reality it’s a mix of that and defense spending contracts keeping thousands of Americans employed in good paying jobs. While accurate “we don’t need another 5th gen fighter, let’s cut that spending” is political suicide.

Anonymous 0 Comments

F-15: adopted in 1974, designed to be an air superiority fighter. Take down enemy aircraft.

F-16: adopted in 1979, designed to be a multi-role aircraft that could carry out both air to air and air to ground missions. Being a fighter and capable of striking ground targets.

F-117: adopted in 1982, the “Nighthawk” was a stealth aircraft designed to carry out ground strike missions undetected

F-22: adopted in 1997, the raptor was/is meant to replace the older F-15s as the prime air superiority fighter, taking down enemy aircraft.

F-35: adopted in 2015, the F-35 was meant to be another multi-role aircraft capable of both air to air fights and air to ground strike missions, replacing the F-16. The F-35 has also ended up with multiple variants to achieve different design goals.

The F-117 is technically retired since 2008, but still gets flown sometimes.

F-22s and F-35s are meant to be the USA modern air force, but we still have plenty of perfectly good F-15 and F-16 planes around (hundreds of them). And they still work just fine, especially when you consider that these planes from The 70s could still go toe to toe with that majority of other countries’ air forces.

Anonymous 0 Comments

F-15 is a general purpose fighter bomber. Typically used for combat air control, flying high above the battlefield with lots of fuel, bombs, rockets and sensors ready to help out where needed. F-16 is an interceptor. They sit on the airfields and when needed take off and quickly get where they are needed. The F-117 is a stealth ground attack aircraft. It operates where there is a radar threat that means the A-10 or AC-130 can not go into the area, not many were built. The F-22 and F-35 are more modern fighter jets which compromises between the F-15, F-16 and F-117 but with more expensive and modern technology. They are intended to do everything, both combat air patrol, interception and stealth. The goal is that older airplanes will be replaced with these newer ones. But they are a lot more expensive both to buy and operate. So it will take some time to replace the old aircraft. Typically you would wait until the natural end of the service life before replacing them with something new.

Anonymous 0 Comments

This is from memory so some details may be wrong.
F-15 older non stealth air superiority fighter. Optimized for high maneuverability dogfighting.

F-16 older non stealth multi role fighter. Intended for ground targets as well as aircraft.

F-117 one of the first stealth aircraft. Despite the f designation, it’s a ground attack craft. No longer in service.

F-22 stealth air superiority fighter. Production was canceled and there aren’t that many of them. More aren’t being made.

F-35 modern multi role stealth fighter. Intended to attack ground and air targets. This is also the newest plane by a long shot and takes advantage of the significant technological advances that have happened since the other planes were designed. High production volume as well.

To wrap things up, there’s basically 2 axes with a one in each quadrant. The first is air superiority vs multi role. Basically is the plane designed to primarily engage other aircraft, or go after ground targets as well.

The other is stealth vs non stealth. While stealth has advantages it does have downsides. They have limited payloads and are significantly more expensive to design, build and operate compared to non stealth aircraft. If you don’t need that stealth capacity or need a lot of weapons, a non stealth aircraft may be a better bet.

Anonymous 0 Comments

– F-16: a small, lightweight, flexible fighter that can dogfight, do ground strikes, and do all-purpose work. It’s cheap, easy to learn how to fly, and can be exported. A 70s era design, but with continually upgraded avionics etc.

– F-15: a large, powerful, heavy air superiority fighter. It’s designed to engage and kill other fighters both from over the horizon and in dogfights. It has a huge onboard radar and powerful avionics, and is basically our one-up on everyone else from the 70s until the 00s. Only exported to a few partners, and then with downgraded avionics.

– F-22: the stealth replacement for F-15. It can do everything F-15 can, plus it has thrust vectoring and better avionics. NOT for export. Again, this is our one-up on everyone else. A 90s era design, but with modern avionics.

– F-35: the stealth replacement for F-16 (Air Force), A-10 (Air Force), F-18 (Navy + Marines), and the Harrier (Marines), as well as kinda/sorta for F-22. It’s not quite as capable as A-10 or F-22 for some parts of their missions, but it’s vastly more capable than the other jets it’s replacing, plus (in theory) it’s cheaper and easier to operate a single platform than many different ones. An 00s-10s era design.

– F-117: is retired, and has been for some years, but it was mostly a ground-strike aircraft, due to the fact that it flew like a pig and was hard to maneuver. It was an early 80s design.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The F-16 is a light multi-role fighter (26,000 pound gross weight) with one single engine. It was designed to be cheap, mass produced and be the work horse of the US Air Force.

The F-15 is large air superiority fighter (44,500 pounds gross weight) with two engine. It was designed to be a more expensive very powerful fighter to destroy other aircraft in the air and gain air dominance. The F-15 have a flawless combat record of 104 air combat victories and no losses. Obviously, since it’s a more specialized aircraft and more expensive, there is a lot less of them produced.

There is also the F-15E Strike Eagle. Since the F-15 is big and can carry a lot of ammunition, they made a version of the fighter specialized in air to ground strike. The mission of the F-15E is completely different than the mission of the normal F-15 and so they made a lot of changes to the design for that reason.

All of the fighters above were designed between the 70s and 80s so they are starting to be pretty old and will need to be retired eventually. Of course, some of those fighters were produced after the 80s and new block of modernization happen, but the basic design is still from the 70-80s.

F-22 is a stealth air superiority fighter designed in the later half of the 90s. Stealth is a pretty big advantage so the original plan was to replace the F-15 with the F-22, but for complicated reason including the high cost of the F-22 and the fact that basically nobody else had a stealth fighter it was decided that only a few hundreds of them would be produced to work along side the F-15 in the air superiority role.

F-35 is the modern multi-role stealth fighter designed in the 2000-10s. It’s a big fighter (49,000 pounds gross weight), but it was designed to replace as many combat aircraft as possible. Some design choices and the economy of scale (the F-35 is being produced at the same rate as the F-16 even if it’s more than twice the weight) mean the that the F-35 is pretty cheap for a modern stealth fighter of that size.

The goal is for the F-35 to replace most fighters for the US, that said it will take time to produce that many F-35 so they plan to modernized the F-22 and they started production on a new version of the F-15 to bridge that gap and of course this will be a rather long process.

The F-117 is another story. It’s not a fighter like the other, it was designed F-117 more as a cover since it was a very secret aircraft that was flown in the military way before it was made public. It’s a small tactical stealth bomber, it was the fight stealth combat aircraft ever, but the US progressed a lot in that technology so the F-117 is no longer in service.