Military Aircraft

This section covers the workings of military aircraft, including fighter jets and attack helicopters. Learn how these aircraft work and how they are used in military operations.


If you're traveling during the winter time, there's a good chance that your flight may be delayed because the plane needs deicing. Why do they wait until the last minute to do this?

"Star Wars" at sea? That's sort of the promise of a new generation of laser-firing jets now being developed by the U.S. military.

We know how drone strikes are supposed to work: After careful monitoring, the bad guy is targeted and taken out. The reality is often much hazier — and deadlier.

After the airplane was invented, it just took a few decades for the world's despots to realize air power could be used to terrorize civilian populations. Do no-fly zones succeed at protecting the innocent?

Jets are one of the best tools that a military has at its disposal. They’re fast, fierce and effective. From reconnaissance to target engagement, these aircraft are 10 sophisticated assets.

The thrilling roar of fighter jets performing a military flyover is now a common experience at many big events. In fact, the military approves most of the 850 or so flyover requests submitted annually. What does it take to arrange a flyover?

Early unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) primarily carried out reconnaissance missions in war zones, but the Reaper packs some serious heat. Is there anything more foreboding than a drone with a Hellfire missile?

The Focke Wulf Fw 190 was fast and maneuverable, and packed a heavy armament package, usually of four machine guns and two cannons. Provision was made for carrying a bomb or a drop-tank under the fuselage centerline. Check out this WWII fighter.

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was the biggest, most expensive gamble by the United States during World War II, built with incredibly high expectations on a tight deadline. Read about the big advances in aviation technology brought about by the B-29.

The Mikoyan-Guryevich MiG-15 was a surprise when it appeared in combat during the Korean War. Read the details of the MiG-15 and learn how it shook the United States aviation industry out of its somewhat complacent state following World War II.

In its first few years, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II set eight new aviation records, among them altitude (98,557 feet), speed (1,390 mph), and time to climb (9,000 feet in 34.5 seconds). Learn details about this popular and powerful aircraft.

The F-117A is purely an attack aircraft, and lacks the arms and maneuverability for dogfights. The nature of its mission and the characteristics of the aircraft demand extremely skilled, well-trained pilots. Learn about the Nighthawk Stealth fighter.

The North American F-86 Sabre was the beneficiary of German research on the advantages of the swept wing for high-speed jet aircraft. Read about the development and details of this amazingly fast and superbly maneuverable single-engine fighter.

The tiny but potent Douglas A-4 Skyhawk remained in continuous production for 25 years, longer than any other warplane. Learn how this tough and nimble fighter came to be famous more for its peacetime activities than for its military accomplishments.

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress has taken on many roles since its debut in 1952. The plane that started as a high-level nuclear bomber is now being considered for electronic countermeasures. Learn the long history of and specifications for the B-29.

In the 1970s, the Mikoyan-Guryevich MiG-21 was the Soviet equivalent of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. Learn the specifications of the MiG-21, the preferred tactics that the plane used in combat by the Soviets, and its weaknesses in dogfights.

The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird first flew in 1964, and since that time it has remained the world's fastest aircraft. Tanks in the inner wings and upper fuselage carry the 80,000 pounds of special, superheated fuel.

The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle features a combination of inspired engineering and sophisticated on-board computers. Its large wings and powerful engines give tremendous agility and a remarkable climb rate. Learn about the dominant F-15 Eagle.

The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon had many advanced features, including a blended wing and fuselage, fly-by-wire controls, splendid visibility, and superb maneuverability. Read specifications and history of the popular F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit is known as the most expensive bomber ever, at $2.2 billion each. It has evolved into a low-level weapon to destroy enemy battle potential by using precision-guided munitions. Read about this versatile, pricey bomber.

The North American B-25 Mitchell was efficient, easy to manufacture and repair, and able to do any job assigned to it. No other twin-engine bomber of World War II saw greater production. Learn the specifications and uses for this handsome bomber.

The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk is one of the best-liked airplanes of World War II, tough and virtually trouble-free, though its performance was never quite up to that of its opponents. Read about this most important American fighter plane of 1942-1943.

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was the most prolific American plane of World War II. But the B-24 was not as attractive as the B-17 bomber, nor did it win the same popular regard from the public. Read the story and specifications of the B-24 bomber.

The successes of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero during the first six months of World War II stunned Western observers. Its dominance was frightening, but soon surpassed. Learn about the rise and fall of the A6M Zero, and its unique design specifications.

The Grumman F6F Hellcat had many virtues and two great assets: its strong, reliable Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine, and the increasing skill and training of its pilots. Read about the specifications and successful history of the F6F Hellcat airplane.