Air International 2007-01
D.Hobbs - Air Superiority - A Personal View /Military/
Russian fighters such as the MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27/30 Flanker series have remarkable agility and can carry a wide range of air-to-air missiles for air combat, from beyond visual-range to close-in dog-fighting. Many of their variants can also be equipped with infra-red search and track systems which allow their pilots to engage targets passively. This Su-30K is in service with the Indian Air Force.
Although the F-15 has been in service for over 30 years, a number of updates to its weapon systems have enabled it to remain a potent air superiority aircraft. This pair belong to the 154th Wing/199th Fighter Squadron, at Hickam AFB, Hawaii Air National Guard.
A Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, one of the world's best dogfighters. This aircraft is from the USAF’s 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB, Arizona
Gripen is a swing-role aircraft and can carry a variety of weapons, and a reconnaissance pod to suit a range of missions. It is pictured here configured for the pure air-to-air role with Sidewinder and AMRAAM missiles, and its integral cannon.
Undoubtedly the most outstanding air superiority aircraft now in service, the F-22A’s high cost is limiting the number of aircraft the USAF will be allowed to buy. The Raptor's price tag and use of sensitive systems may also dictate whether any other nation can afford, or indeed, would be allowed, to buy them.
Американский опытный беспилотный самолет X-45A
Unmanned combat aircraft, such as the Boeing X-45 J-UCAV, seen here dropping a 250lb inert Small Smart Bomb during a test flight, could add another dimension to air superiority. Earlier generations of UAV/UCAVs have been tasked with reconnaissance and more recently, with limited ground attack, but advances in technologies will increase their ground attack capabilities and allow them to be used for other roles, even air combat.
There is more than one way to skin a cat and the Typhoon can achieve air superiority by defeating hostile aircraft in air-to-air combat or by destroying their infrastructure with precision air-to-surface weapons. This development aircraft is carrying six Paveway II laser-guided bombs and a pair of Sidewinder missiles.
French Navy Rafales are primarily tasked with air superiority and have a secondary, strike role. When the aircraft receive their third generation software update, beginning in 2008, they will have a swing-role capability.