5 most invisible aircraft in the world
If you do not consider the F-117 Nighthawk strike stealth aircraft, which was adopted in 1983, which was a useless fighter and not much better than a bomber, then the F-22 Raptor should be considered the first-born among invisible fighters. He first flew in 1997, and in 2003, the elite American air units began to rearm the latest fighters, the first of which was the 27th fighter squadron, based in Langley.
The F-22 Raptor was supposed to replace the F-15 Eagle over time, but the aircraft proved to be very expensive both in production ($ 146 million) and in operation. All this led to a serious adjustment to the F-22 program. In total, before the end of production in 2011, 187 aircraft were assembled instead of 750, which did not reduce the price to $ 120 million, as planned in the case of the release of the aircraft in a large series.
Currently, experts from many countries evaluate the F-22 as the most advanced fifth-generation stealth fighter, for which potential fourth-generation rivals pose no particular threat. In the conducted training battles, the F-22 easily destroyed the F-15 and F-18 with a crushing score of 120: 1. Unlike other American F-22 aircraft, the US Congress banned selling to other countries, since the technologies and materials used in its construction are still considered secret and of strategic importance.
F-35 Lightning II
The high price of the F-22 did not allow replacing the fleet of fourth-generation American fighters, most of which were developed in the seventies of the last century. Therefore, in the mid-1990s, Lockheed Martin began to develop the F-35 Lightning II fighter, which in 2015 began to be in service with the Marine Corps and the US Air Force. When developing this aircraft, two main tasks were pursued: to create not just an advanced stealth fighter, but a whole family of aircraft - with conventional take-off and landing, vertical take-off and a carrier-based fighter. On the one hand, this reduced the cost and accelerated development, allowing the use of many unified nodes, but on the other, an attempt to use the same design solutions for virtually three aircraft led to unacceptable compromises.
F-35 began to criticize even before it was adopted. He was scolded for poor maneuverability - in a training aerial battle, he lost to the F-16 veteran, for low speed, for poor stealth, light load, single-engine scheme, which negatively affects the survivability and crowdedness of the cockpit, in which pilots are forced to bang their heads against the flashlight and sit in an uncomfortable position. The F-35 got both for the high price of the aircraft itself (the F-35 program cost $ 1.6 trillion) and for expensive operation. Some experts even refused to recognize him as a fifth-generation aircraft.
Lockheed Martin considers the criticism to be unfounded, still claiming that the F-35 is an excellent combat vehicle that can solve all the tasks assigned to it. For the entire period of operation of the F-35, there were only two cases of combat use of the aircraft, and even then as a bomber. Last year, the Israeli Air Force bombed targets in Syria, and the US Air Force attacked ground targets in Afghanistan. In both cases, there was no opposition to enemy fighter aircraft, so it is difficult to assess the fighter qualities of the F-35.
The third stealth fighter in the world, which took part in sorties, was the Russian Su-57, seen last year in Syria. Due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, work to create domestic “invisibles” in our country was frozen for a very long time, although research was carried out in this direction as far back as the late 1980s. But only in 2001, the project of the future Su-57 was given the green light.
In 2010, the aircraft made its first flight, and for almost seven years it took a test cycle of both the fighter and its weapons. Unfortunately, the machine that goes to military units will not be mass and will not even reach the F-22 in terms of the number of issued copies. And it will not be the Su-57 that it was originally planned to be created, for example, it will not have new generation engines. However, Russia managed to become the second country in the world to adopt a fifth-generation fighter.
Most of the characteristics of the Su-57 are still classified, but if you evaluate the available information, then its direct competitor is the F-22. Both aircraft are fighters for gaining dominance in the air, have a high speed, which is not in the F-35, and in many respects similar characteristics. At the same time, a Russian fighter is cheaper than its American opponent, and it is possible that over time it can be delivered to other countries with which Russia has long-standing partnerships in the defense field.
Previously, China belonged to such countries, but Su-35 fighters bought in Russia were the last that China acquired on the side. From now on, China has embarked on a full import substitution of aircraft, and they will develop all subsequent aircraft independently. Rather, they have already developed, with a truly Chinese scale, having created two stealth fighters at once.
The first - J-20 - was developed by Chengdu Aircraft and made its first flight in 2011. He should enter the arsenal of the Celestial Empire this year. According to experts, the Chinese have copied a number of solutions from the Soviet experimental MiG-1.44 fighter, as well as from the F-22. The aircraft is equipped with Russian AL-31F engines, but in the future the fighter will receive Chinese engines. J-20 is intended exclusively for use in the Chinese Air Force and will not be exported.
But the more compact and lightweight J-31 fighter developed by Shenyang Aircraft, whose appearance was clearly seen from the F-22, will certainly be offered to other countries. Moreover, according to preliminary information, it will cost about 90 million US dollars, which will make it attractive enough for those countries that want to have a stealth fighter, but the American F-35s are either too expensive or they will not be sold to them. It is also possible that the J-31 will be used by the Chinese as a carrier-based fighter. The "invisible" can come into service as early as 2021.