what is the best fighter jet the us has

What Is The Best Fighter Jet The Us Has? America remains one of the biggest producers and users of top-of-the-line fighter jets. These are the 15 best American fighter jets currently in use by the U.S. Military and best fighter jet of all time. So what are the best fighter jet in the world 2020 models?

With contractors like McDonnell Douglas and Boeing right here in our own backyard, newer versions of these craft are easier to come by. There’s also the fact that there are significant financial incentives for some in private industry and political office and government to grow military spending.

Whatever the reason, there is no denying that America replaces its fighter jets faster and with more regularity than most nations. For example, Japan, whose military budget is eighth largest in the world, still has a few McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II in its air force.

What Is The Best Fighter Jet The Us Has

America, by contrast, spends more on the next eight militaries combined, which – other social factors aside – contributes to its ability to replace those old F-4s with the biggest and best fighter jets out there.

Another thing demonstrating that discrepancy is the size of the US Air Force and Navy’s aircraft roster. How many fighter jets does the US have? Exact figures of fighters themselves are hard to come by, but the American Military has 13,000 total aircraft. No other military has more than 3,000.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the aircraft which make the cut to be the best current United States fighter jets.

best fighter jet in the world 2020

1. F-15 Eagle

McDonnell Douglas F 15 Eagle
Editorial TeamMcDonnell Douglas F 15 Eagle

Few aircraft are more iconic in the American imagination than the McDonnell Douglas F-15. Since the 70s, it has been virtually synonymous with “fighter jet” in the minds of most Americans, and for good reason.

That isn’t to say that the F-15 is the most recent fighter jet on our list – on the contrary, this decades-old jet is one of the oldest entries. Even so, its continued use is a testament to just how durable and serviceable this old ace of the skies continues to be.

The F-15 has been sold to allies such as Israel and Japan, as well as other nations such as Saudi Arabia. It has been extremely successful, with no recorded losses in combat and a long and illustrious service record in the American and Israeli Air Forces in particular.

2. F-15E Strike Eagle

McDonnell Douglas F 15E Strike Eagle
Editorial TeamMcDonnell Douglas F 15E Strike Eagle

A variation of the classic F-15, the McDonnell Douglas / Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle was first introduced in 1989. This two-seat upgrade to the classic jet is able to operate in all kinds of visibility and weather conditions, continuing the F-15’s reputation for versatility.

The F-15E Strike Eagle has been designed to operate in a dual capacity, being as adept at taking on air-to-air missions against other aircraft as it is in carrying out air-to-ground assignments.

That two-seat upgrade is also important. Having an extra pilot on hand can be incredibly helpful for getting radar readouts, selecting targets, and assisting with other essential in-flight duties.

3. F-16 Fighting Falcon

F 16 Fighting Falcon
Editorial TeamF 16 Fighting Falcon

This is another fighter jet that has a long service history, first entering service in 1979. In that time, it has come to be another staple of the American Air Force and Navy, with more than 1,000 still in service today.

This is another versatile aircraft which is able to take on a wide variety of missions. Like the F-15 and its Strike Eagle upgrade, it has been frequently used for air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.

What helps distinguish the F-16 Fighting Falcon is the fact that it is also adept at carrying out electronic attacks, an ability which is evermore valuable in our ever-changing electricity-dependent landscape.

4. F-22 Raptor

Lockheed Martin F 22A Raptor trapezoidal wing
Editorial TeamLockheed Martin F 22A Raptor

A much more recent addition to the Air Force’s roster, the F-22 Raptor was first adapted by the military in 2005. The Air Force has designated this fighter jet as part of its fifth generation of aircraft.

One of the most distinguishable parts of this jet is the fact that it’s able to maintain low visibility, hiding from other jets and giving it a distinct advantage over other aircraft.

Production of the F-22 ceased in 2011, though it remains a vital part of the Air Force’s roster. While there weren’t as many built as the venerable F-15 and F-16 models, the F-22 still had a respectable 195 total craft produced.

5. F-35A Lightning II

F 35A Lightning II receiving fuel
Editorial TeamF 35A Lightning II receiving fuel

This stealth fighter jet has had a long and sometimes troubled production history. During the course of its testing, it had significant problems, ranging from battery issues to difficulties in adverse weather conditions to issues with its stealth features.

This resulted in lengthy production delays, to say nothing of the billions spent on correcting these issues. Thankfully, many of those issues have been sorted out, and the F-35 is finally starting to see service.

The Israeli Air Force has placed a considerably large order for these new fighter jets, and were the first country to deploy them in action in Syria in May 2018. The US used them in anti-ISIS strikes in 2019.

6. McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet

McDonnell Douglas FA 18 Hornet
Editorial TeamMcDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet

Now we switch from fighter jets used by the United States Air Force to those piloted by their Brothers and Sisters in Arms in the Navy. The F-18 Hornet was first produced by McDonnell Douglas in the mid-70s, though Boeing has taken over production since the mid-90s.

It is a craft which has seen extensive use in America’s engagements in the Middle East over the past couple decades, playing key roles in the air offensives during the Gulf War and the Iraq War.

Its longevity is due in large part to its versatility. The F-19 Hornet is designed for and has carried out, at various stages of its operational career, everything from reconnaissance to close aerial support to suppression of and attacks on opposing forces.

7. Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

Boeing FA 18EF Super Hornet
Editorial TeamBoeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

As you might guess, this is a variant of the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. It is capable of longer missions thanks to an external fuel system. It also lives up to the “super” part of its name, being considerably larger than the standard F-18 Hornet.

It first entered active service in the US Air Force in 2001, and entered service in the Royal Australian Air Force in 2010. The United States Navy placed an order with Boeing for 78 more in March 2019.

Like its predecessor, the F-18 Super Hornet has seen considerable action in the Middle East, being used in anti-ISIS strikes. The F-18 Super Hornet is an aircraft carrier-based fighter jet, as exemplified by those anti-ISIS strikes, which took place from the USS George H.W. Bush.

8. Grumman F-14 Tomcat

Grumman F 14 Tomcat
Editorial TeamGrumman F-14 Tomcat

Because public information on current American fighter jets is understandably limited, it is here that we start to get into training jet planes and those which are less than current. The F-14 Tomcats are a little of both. 

While the F-18 Super Hornet replaced the F-14 Tomcat on active duty, they are still valuable as training jets. What’s more, while the US Navy retired them from service in 2006, they are still used by Iran, to whom the US sold several units while replacing them.

During their time in service with the US Navy, they were used as interceptors. However, to prolong their lives, plans were developed for them to be improved with ground attack capabilities.

9. T-45 Goshawk

T-45 Goshawk
Editorial Team

This is another craft which began life as a McDonnell Douglas creation, only for production to later be taken over by Boeing. It is also another fighter jet which is far past its prime, but continues to live on as a training jet.

The T-45 Goshawk was introduced way back in 1991, and remains an active part of the US Navy, albeit in a mainly training capacity. Like the F-18s, it was designed as an aircraft which could be used in conjunction with an aircraft carrier.

Several variants have been produced over the fighter’s lifespan. These have included the T-45A, which is a two-seat variant also used by the US Marines, and the T-45C, an upgraded version with a glass cockpit and other augments, which currently serves as a model for T-45s still in service today.

10. Northrop F-5

Northrop F 5
Editorial TeamNorthrop F-5

As with the F-45 Goshawk, the Northrop F-5 is a jet trainer used to get new Navy pilots “up to speed.” It is a true blast from the past, being first flown in its original form way back in 1959.

Needless to say, it has seen several modifications since then, with its Tiger II upgrade being the basis for the models still in service today. A, B, C, D, E, and F variants were also produced, with a couple thousand F-5s being made in total between them. Of those, around 500 remain in service as training jets.

The fighter jets saw service during the Vietnam War. Some were captured during the fall of Saigon, after which point the Khmer Rouge were able to use a small number of them in occasional operations.

It is an interesting time for not only space travel, but private aviation, too. While larger and larger jets are flying farther and faster, smaller personal jets and enthusiast aircraft are thriving as well. And let’s not forget the vertical takeoff and landing craft that shifted into hyperdevelopment mode. There’s never been a more exciting time to be airborne.https://3bd377ec286ee5eaccdebbfc04e8ff1a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Bombardier Global 7500

Robb Report's Business Jet of the Year 2019, Bombardier Global 7500

Bombardier Global 7500. Courtesy of Bombardier

After much anticipation, the first Bombardier Global 7500 business jet entered service in December of 2018—and to positive fanfare. Since coming on the scene, the 7500 has wasted no time in breaking as many records as possible. At press time, these include distance (between Singapore and Tucson, Ariz.) and speed (between New York and Los Angeles). While performance for a private jet got an upgrade, so did comfort—the Bombardier Nuage chair with its free-floating base is the first true seat revamp in 30 years for the private aviation sector. The 7500 accommodates 19 passengers, has a range of 7,700 nautical miles (8,861 regular miles—say, from LA’s Van Nuys Airport to Dubai or San Francisco to Singapore, among many other pairs) and has a top speed of Mach 0.925. Even the crew gets a posh boost with a private seat that fully reclines for sleeping and is separated by a privacy door. The flexible cabin plan could include, for example, a master suite with queen bed with storage and an en-suite bathroom with shower; a media room with sofa that can become a bed (more stash space underneath); a dining and living/conference area (with a table that folds out for six); the crew rest suite across from the galley (with all the secret hideaway drawers and popup stow slots as well as an oven and sink for fresh preparations); and another forward bathroom. This jet really has everything you might need for that ultralong-range flight.

Controlling sound, movies, blinds and lights—from any seat or bed— just got easier with a state-of-the-art pop-up dial with an OLED display. This dial, named the “nice Touch cabin management system,” is part of a platform developed in collaboration with Lufthansa Technik. And it’s pretty cool—as is the Ka-band satellite communications for fast internet speeds. There’s no doubt that the world’s largest and longest-range business jet lives up to the hype.https://3bd377ec286ee5eaccdebbfc04e8ff1a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Bell Nexus

Robb Report's Best VOTL Concept 2019, Bell Nexus

Bell Nexus Courtesy of Bell

If anyone is going to truly take a vertical takeoff and landing (VOTL) concept to market, our bets are on chopper experts Bell. With seven decades of experience as a helicopter manufacturer, and as the builder of the V-22 Osprey and the V-280 Valor tiltrotor military aircraft, Bell carries cachet among the new and established companies developing vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that also fly horizontally like an airplane. So while you can dismiss some of the recent VTOL concepts as pies in the sky, you can’t do that here. The Bell name lends credibility to the four-passenger hybrid-electric VTOL, which features six 8-foot-diameter ducted fans that tilt to make the instant transition from vertical takeoff to horizontal flight. Plans call for the Nexus to initially be flown by a pilot, but eventually it could fly autonomously. The craft will have a range of about 150 miles and a top speed of roughly 150 mph. It will be small enough to take off from and land on most helipads. Bell hopes to begin flight tests with a prototype in 2023 and have the Nexus in service by the mid-2020s.

Bombardier Challenger 350

Robb Report's Best Super-Midsize Aircraft 2019, Bombardier Challenger 350

Bombardier Challenger 350 Courtesy of Bombardier

For those who need their private jet to be able to cross the country (or the Atlantic) on the regular, the Bombardier Challenger 350 has been the business jet of choice, averaging more than 60 deliveries annually in its first four full years of service (2015 through 2018), many going to NetJets, Flexjet and other private-aviation companies that appreciate the reliable, workhorse nature of the Challenger 350 and see its $27 million price as a solid investment. You just couldn’t fly into airports such as Aspen or London City because of steep approaches or shorter runways. But the aircraft’s capabilities and cabin comforts seemed to outweigh that negative. It has a range of nearly 3,700 miles, a max cruising speed of 548 mph, and room for 10 passengers. The cabin is just over 25 feet long, 6 feet tall and 7 feet 2 inches wide. The standard configuration seats eight passengers in two sets of four comfy club seats. Last year, however, Bombardier enhanced the Challenger 350 so that it could receive steep-approach certification. Now it can land at (and take off from) airports that used to be off limits. The latest version of the aircraft needs less than 2,400 feet of runway to land. https://3bd377ec286ee5eaccdebbfc04e8ff1a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Cessna Citation Latitude

Robb Report's Best Midsize Jet 2019, Cessna Citation Latitude

Cessna Citation Latitude Courtesy of Cessna

The Cessna Citation Latitude was the third most-delivered business jet in 2018, behind the Cirrus Vision Jet and Bombardier’s Challenger 350. In its own midsize class, however, the Latitude was out in front, with 57 handed over last year, up from 54 in 2017. While three more wouldn’t seem like much in other sectors, when you’re talking about a $17 million piece of kit, each and every one is significant. Desire for the Latitude is growing.

Perhaps it’s because its flat-floor cabin has six feet of headroom. Or maybe it’s that 22-foot cabin’s ability to seat nine passengers. The pressurization system gives the feel of flying at 5,950 feet when the jet is actually cruising along at 45,000 feet. With four passengers, the Latitude can fly more than 3,100 miles without stopping at its 513 mph max cruising speed. Garmin’s G5000 touch-screen avionics with synthetic-vision technology give top-notch guidance in the cockpit.

Airbus ACH135 Helionix

Robb Report's Best Helicopter 2019, the Airbus ACH135 Helionix

Airbus ACH135 Helionix Courtesy of Airbus Corporate Helicopters

Quick urban hops and jaunts to remote areas that don’t necessarily have an airstrip got a lot more luxe—and safe—last year. ACH, the Airbus corporate helicopters division launched in 2017 that’s dedicated to corporate and personal choppers, delivered the first ACH135 Helionix in September. The initial example features a five-seat configuration (plus pilot) with ACH’s sports car–inspired Line series interior. Most noteworthy is the bird’s avionics system, which was designed to improve situational awareness and to reduce the complexity of the system and number of displays pilots have to keep track of. It also has a more advanced autopilot system to make flying simpler and safer, including an auto hover “pause” button (ideal when faced with low visibility or busy environments), a “go-around” button (the ACH135 will automatically fly around and reposition itself on the best landing approach) and automated engine management (ensuring a smooth and safe flight even if one of the two engines fails). Two turboshaft engines power the agile aircraft to a maximum cruise speed of 137 knots and a top endurance of 3 hours and 39 minutes. The cabin offers up large windows for great visibility, as well as its corporate jet–style finishing, such as hand-sewn soft leather seats. https://3bd377ec286ee5eaccdebbfc04e8ff1a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Embraer Phenom 300E

Robb Report's Best Light Aircraft 2019, the Embraer Phenom 300E

Embraer Phenom 300E Erich Shibata Nishiyama

The most-delivered light jet for each of the past seven years became even better in 2018, when Embraer began producing the Phenom 300E, giving the popular plane a tech and comfort makeover. Embraer redesigned the interior and installed, among other features, a new cabin-management and inflight-entertainment system by Lufthansa Technik. The system is housed in a panel that runs along the centerline of the aircraft’s ceiling and includes two 7-inch swing-down displays. Reading lights and fans have been moved into the panel to create more headroom above the seats. The panel also includes new ambient lighting. The redesign creates more space, specifically more aisle room (in addition to the extra headroom), while adding larger seats, which now have broader backs and extendable head and leg rests. The 300E, which is usually configured to seat six passengers behind the cockpit (but can seat up to nine plus pilot), has the same range and high cruising speed as its predecessor: 2,270 miles and 521 mph. (Base price: $9.45 million.)

Winch Design

Robb Report's Best Aviation Interiors 2019, Winch Design

Winch Design Courtesy of Winch Design

Founded in 1986 by Andrew and Jane Winch as a yacht-design company—both exterior and interior—London-based Winch Design has made a name for itself by creating bespoke aviation, yachting and land-based masterpieces, inside and out. This year, we applaud the studio for its custom-interiors concepts for Boeing Business Jets and Airbus Neo aircraft.

By employing irregularly shaped spaces within the cabin, with molded paneling and movable (but securable) furniture, the Winch team creates compelling, adaptable and livable spaces that inspire relaxation in flight but are at the ready to do business when the time is right.

Soft leathers, light-colored marble, natural shells, cream-silk carpets, rosewood accents and mother-of-pearl accessories—not to mention artwork—set a residential tone for the serene aircraft interior. Full-size bathrooms give the feel of home. Dare we bring the kids?https://3bd377ec286ee5eaccdebbfc04e8ff1a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic's First Flight Into Space

VSS Unity MarsScientific.com/Trumbull Studios

“It was intense and magical and serene and almost unlike anything anyone can imagine.” That’s how Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor, described her trip as a passenger aboard VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic’s rocket-fueled space plane that, in late February, traveled beyond the Earth’s atmosphere and into space for the second time—and for the first time with a passenger. If all goes as planned, anyone who can afford a $250,000 ticket won’t have to imagine what Moses described; he or she will be able to experience it. So far, more than 600 people have reportedly purchased tickets to fly aboard a Virgin Galactic space plane. It’s doubtful any civilians will make the trip by July 18, the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 and the date by which Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson has said he hopes to make his first space flight. However, the February flight was certainly more than just a small step for the company, which Branson established 15 years ago; it was a giant leap for space tourism. After flying VSS Unity 51.4 miles above sea level (NASA places the border between the Earth’s atmosphere and space at 50 miles above sea level) and landing it safely in the Mojave Desert in December, Virgin Galactic’s two pilots were joined by Moses for the February flight, which reached an altitude of 55.87 miles and a speed of Mach 3.0. Moses was on board to evaluate the space-flight passenger experience: the intense, magical and peaceful sensation of weightlessness and the sights of the curve of the Earth and the star-filled sky.

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