Fighter Aircraft

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Military aircraft such as the F-16 and Joint Strike Fighter, which are designed to perform air-to-air combat operations, are the primary means by which armed forces gain air superiority over their opponents in battle. RAND has studied fighter aircraft for many decades to provide civilian and military decisionmakers with critical recommendations on logistics, acquisition support, fleet modernization, and maintenance, to maximize effectiveness and innovation.

  • Report

    Fighter Basing Options to Improve Access to Advanced Training Ranges

    The U.S. Air Force has determined that its fighter pilots do not currently have sufficient access to training ranges that are capable of representing advanced potential adversaries. What squadron restationing and range upgrade policies maximize access to advanced training ranges?

    Feb 5, 2021

  • Content

    Where Russia Markets and Sells Advanced Conventional Weapons

    Russia uses arms exports to further relations with other countries, influence their political and military leaders, and further its broader foreign and defense policy goals. A series of maps show the extent of its marketing, negotiating, and sales of key weapons systems.

    Jun 11, 2021

Explore Fighter Aircraft

  • Typhoons at RAF Coningsby in Linconshire, United Kingdom, December 9, 2022, photo by Joe Giddens/Pool via Reuters

    Commentary

    Lessons for Industrial Resilience: The UK's Typhoon Export Conundrum

    If Turkey steps back from its pursuit of the Typhoon, it would join India, South Korea, Finland, the UAE, and Switzerland on the list of countries to decline acquisition of the four-nation collaborative platform jointly exported by the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The United Kingdom and Germany have the most to gain, or lose, from the Typhoon's success.

    Feb 2, 2024

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Nuclear Deterrence, Russia and Iran, Deepfakes: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how much is “enough” for U.S. nuclear forces, the budding Russia-Iran partnership, the challenge of detecting deepfakes, and more.

    Oct 6, 2023

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Dutch caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte, inspect F-16 fighter jets in Eindhoven, Netherlands, August 20, 2023, photo by EyePress News/Reuters

    Commentary

    F-16s Are No Magic Bullet for Ukraine, but They Are a Game Changer with the Right Munitions

    Will F-16s win the war for Ukraine? No. Only ground victories and unacceptable Russian losses will force Putin to negotiate. However, a long-term commitment to supporting a well-equipped, sizable F-16 force will improve the likelihood of Ukrainian success even if an F-16 never shoots a Russian fighter.

    Oct 3, 2023

  • The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), photo by U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Why Improve Ukraine's Deep-Strike Capability?

    Coordinated deep-strike capabilities—air-launched and ground-launched—will be most effective in degrading Russian forces and operations. Using air and ground launchers would force Russian commanders to devote substantial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities to attempt to find these systems.

    Sep 19, 2023

  • An F-16 Fighting Falcon flies during a mission at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, February 14, 2019, photo by Staff Sgt. John Raven/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    What Is the Long-Term Strategy for Ukraine's Air Force?

    It is encouraging that Ukraine might receive F-16s to improve its combat capabilities. Western policymakers might begin thinking now about what the Ukrainian Air Force may require in the future, especially if the Russian threat remains acute.

    Jun 6, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Arming Teachers, F-16s in Ukraine, Commercial Spaceflight: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how teachers feel about arming teachers, what F-16s will (and won't) do for Ukraine, the need to regulate commercial spaceflight, and more.

    Jun 2, 2023

  • Three U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons fly over the Pacific Ocean, February 10, 2022, photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Lotz/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    What F-16s Will (and Won't) Do for Ukraine

    After months of publicly lobbying to acquire U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets, it appears that Ukraine may receive them later this year. However, there remains a long road ahead before the F-16s would see service in Ukraine—and it is an open question how much they would affect the outcome of the war.

    May 31, 2023

  • F-16 fighters from Poland on air policing mission along NATO allied air space, March 24, 2022, photo by EyePress News/Reuters

    Commentary

    F-16s Will Bolster Ukraine's Fighting Force

    F-16s going to Ukraine could help it defend against Russian aerial assaults. But their greatest value may be to augment future Ukrainian counteroffensives aimed at retaking occupied land. This will require training and exercising, but Ukrainian forces are fully capable of mastering it.

    May 25, 2023

  • Two U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft fly over Iraq and Syria, July 17, 2021, pTwo U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft fly over Iraq and Syria, July 17, 2021

    Commentary

    Why Does Ukraine Want Western Jets?

    Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Ukraine has requested Western fighter jets. Why does it want them? Of what use could they be? And what are some of their limitations?

    May 3, 2023

  • A Polish Air Force MiG 29 Fulcrum fighter aircraft takes off from Malbork military airfield in Malbork, Poland, March 20, 2023, photo by IMAGO/BjÃ⁋rn Trotzki via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    What Difference Will Polish and Slovakian Fighter Jets Make to Ukraine?

    The news that Poland and Slovakia are to deliver MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine signals a departure from the longstanding stance of the international community, which had hitherto resisted Kyiv's calls for more combat aircraft. While this donation will be welcomed in Ukraine, it could raise political and practical issues the West must address to maximize the benefits and mitigate the risks.

    Mar 23, 2023

  • Senior Airman Allyssa Helma prepares to marshal an F-15C Eagle onto the flightline for Red Flag-Alaska at Kadena Air Base, Japan, April 15, 2022, photo by Airman 1st Class Sebastian Romawac/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    As F-15s Leave Okinawa, an Opportunity to Change Indo-Pacific Air Tactics with Unmanned Options

    As it considers its future force mix and posture in the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere, the U.S. Air Force has options that go beyond traditional platforms. Among them are rapidly maturing concepts for generating and sustaining high-tempo operations in forward areas with autonomous, runway-independent air vehicles.

    Nov 28, 2022

  • People gather around remains of a military plane at the site where it crashed into a residential building in the city of Irkutsk, Russia, October 23, 2022, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russian Aircraft Keep Crashing. Could Sanctions Be the Cause?

    At least six fixed-wing Russian aircraft have crashed over Russian-controlled airspace since September. Sanctions placed on Russia by the West could well be affecting Russia's ability to manufacture and maintain parts needed to keep aircraft safe.

    Nov 22, 2022

  • Russian Su-35 fighter aircraft taking part in an exercise after taking off from an airfield in Brest, Belarus, February 11, 2022, photo by Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia's Su-35: Are Its Military Aircraft Exports Headed for a Fall?

    Squeezed by sanctions and pressed to replace equipment destroyed in Ukraine, Russia's aerospace sector isn't likely to have combat aircraft to sell, even if it wants to. If purchasing countries start to change their minds and invest in drones and other less-expensive precision guided munitions, the market for Russian combat aircraft might start to rapidly decline.

    Oct 20, 2022

  • “Checkmate,” the new Sukhoi fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, at the opening ceremony of the MAKS 2021 air show in Zhukovsky, Russia, July 20, 2021, photo by Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is Russia's Su-75 'Checkmate' Aircraft a Case of Vapor Marketing?

    During a Moscow air show last summer, Russia rolled out a mockup of the Su-75, a multipurpose fighter-bomber designed to compete in the global marketplace. But given the Russian aerospace sector's difficulties in developing, let alone delivering, advanced combat aircraft, prospective buyers should consider a range of options to meet defense needs.

    Jan 6, 2022

  • Tool

    Tool

    A Modeling Framework for Optimizing U.S. Air Force Fighter Pilot Access to Advanced Training Ranges

    This tool presents the technical details of an optimization model for the U.S. Air Force to analyze the potential effectiveness of different combinations of range upgrades and squadron restationing to improve access to advanced ranges.

    Sep 24, 2020

  • Russian Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jets perform during a demonstration flight at the MAKS-2019 air show in Zhukovsky outside Moscow, Russia, August 29, 2019, photo by Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia's Su-57 Heavy Fighter Bomber: Is It Really a Fifth-Generation Aircraft?

    Russia's Su-57 aircraft has been in development since 2002 and is considered a key part of Russia's arms export industry as a fifth-generation fighter. Despite continued Russian efforts to sell the aircraft, it is unlikely that a fully developed and full production–ready Su-57 will be available for sale before the late 2020s.

    Aug 17, 2020

  • Australian flag waving in blue sky, photo by MicroStockHub/Getty Images

    Commentary

    B-21 Raider Stealth Bomber Is Handy, but It May Not Be the Perfect Fit

    Some in the Australian security community have called for significant changes to the Australian Defence Force structure in response to changing global strategic conditions. Before Australia considers any new long-range strike capabilities, an analysis of alternatives that examines both cost and capability is essential.

    Dec 2, 2019

  • KC-46 refueling F-15E, photo by John D. Parker/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    The tanKer Aerial Refueling Model for Analysis (KARMA)

    This report describes the algorithms used in the tanKer Air Refueling Model for Analysis (KARMA) and explains how to use the model. KARMA simulates the extent to which a tanker force can aerially refuel combat aircraft in a denied environment.

    Sep 4, 2019