The Philosophy Behind the Fighter Jet Design


In Fighter Jet design philosophy, the Western and Russian have two distinct philosophies of aerial combat, and what an air force should be able to do. Both have an impressive commonality that they are both designed to maximise on the weaknesses of the other.

A2A Warfare Doctrines

Russian planes are about performance, high speed, close-range dogfighting, the ability to be deployed from rough airbases close to the battlefield. They also valued aircraft production and pilot safety, producing arguably the best ejector seats in the world and some of the most comfortable airframes to reproduce. Typically their aircraft have better thrust to weight ratios, excellent low-speed manoeuvrability and high-speed performance, better range and an emphasis on passive sensors like IRST and IR missiles.

The West, on the other hand, believed that information superiority would give a distinct advantage in air combat. The west could produce lighter, more powerful and heat efficient processors than Russia and maximises this advantage to produce more powerful radars and onboard computers. This allows western warplanes to independently identify and track enemy aircraft giving them an early advantage. The western was the first to digitise flight controls, providing better and more importantly, more comfortable handling, giving the average or even a novice pilot exceptional capability in their aircraft.

Western aircraft were designed to operate within an information battlespace, where they would have a better understanding of the adversaries position and movements, allowing them to strike with more confidence at greater range, to intercept attacks and to control the information space. The western doctrine also focuses on blinding the enemy, with precision-guided and specialised weapons meant to destroy enemy sensors or command and control centres.

Comparable Fact

Western aircraft tend to focus more on avionics, radar and beyond visual range. They are usually more advanced and have more powerful radar, they usually also focus on the ability to shoot down a target beyond visual range (BVR).

Russian aircraft tend to be relatively low tech, rugged and manufactured in large numbers. Russian usually have more range, higher ability to withstand damage and usually can carry more ordnance and can go faster. The Russian fighter jet makes up their lags by building a great agile fighter jet which is capable of defeating an adversary in close air-to-air combat.

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On the other hand, western fighter relies on the fact that technology makes up for lower numbers although it does have more jets a lot more could have been produced.

Russia military doctrine says that keeps things simple and relies on the principle that lower-tech means lower costs and that means more can be made and that lots of low tech fighters are better than high tech fighters.

The American operates many air bases around the world hence their fighter jet does not have more extended range. The Russian does not operate air bases around the world hence their fighter jet has more extended range and combat radius.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Comparable Areas Russia America
Technological Strength Missile systems, Missile defence system, Nuclear warhead, Hypersonic weapons Aircraft, Helicopter, Carriers, C4iSR, Software, Electronics, Stealth Technology, Drones
Technological Weaknesses Fighter jets, C4iSR, Software, Electronics, Stealth Technology, Drones Nuclear warhead, Hypersonic weapons


American designers love to re-invent the wheel. American thrives on innovation. The American technologies are more expensive, more delicate, required more support hours but can operate independently.

On the other hand, Russians win points for commonality of parts, mass production and cheaper production run at the factory level. The Russian technologies are more rugged and operate in extreme conditions and can be repaired without much attention from the highly skilled workforce.

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