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The Top 5 Fighter Planes in History

Several fighter planes from the jet age of aviation history may be in the top five.

Here Are the Top 5 Fighter Planes of All Time – Which five jet fighters are the best of all time? To decide this is easier than my prior assignment of choosing the best fighter plane of all time, but it’s still a very subjective question that’s bound to stir up some controversy no matter what answers I offer.

Still, it would be best if you had some metrics to narrow the choices and make a convincing case. Here are the two most important criteria I used to choose the winners of my Top 5 List: The number of kills and the ratio of air-to-air deaths are two ways to measure how well something works.

After all, a fighter plane shows its worth when it kills its enemies repeatedly and gets its pilot and navigator back to base safely.

So, without further ado, here are the five best boxers of all time, in my opinion:

This pick shouldn’t cause too much uproar.

After all, no other aircraft can compete with the F-15 Eagle’s incredible 104:0 air-to-air kill ratio.

While the enemy ground fire has shot down three F-15E Strike Eagles, the Eagle aircraft has suffered no losses when pitted against enemy warplanes (avian pun intended). This accomplishment is all the more remarkable, considering that the United States military has used some versions of the F-15 since 1976.

Back in 1979, an Israeli Air Force (IAF) pilot named Moshe Malink made history by becoming the first Eagle driver to accomplish a victory in the air.

The F-15EX is the most recent version, and it looks like the plane’s long history will keep growing because of its success.

Here it is, Top Gun and Naval Aviators fans: your time to shine.

While the F-14 Tomcat cannot match the Eagle’s perfect record, it does have a very impressive kill ratio of 135:4.

Most of the Tomcat’s scores were earned not by American pilots, nor even by the pilots of a U.S. ally, but rather by the pilots of an adversary nation. That adversary nation was Iran, as I pointed out in my previous essay on the F-14.

While the claims of the Iranian Air Force pilots have been called into question, the U.S. Navy Tomcat drivers’ perfect kill record has generated almost no debate.

Its aircrews call it the “Viper” because of its impressive kill ratio of 76 to 1.

Nevertheless, the Falcon’s and Viper’s only loss is debatable as an air-to-air kill since it resulted from a midair collision; ironically, this loss occurred at the hands of another F-16 during the Aegean dispute on 23 May 2006. Unauthorized by the Greek FIR authorities, two Turkish F-16s and one reconnaissance F-4 were spotted at 27,000 feet (8,200 m) over the southern Aegean. A pair of Greek F-16s intercepted them just off the coast of Karpathos. The ensuing fake dogfight resulted in the midair collision and subsequent crash of two F-16s, one each from Turkey and Greece. The Turkish plane’s pilot made it out alive, but the Greek one didn’t.

For U.S. Air Force pilots in Korea, this was a decisive breakthrough.

After the Soviet-made MiG-15s caused trouble for the USAF’s F-80 Shooting Stars and F-84 Thunderjets, U.S. R&D proved the sayings “Desperate times call for desperate measures” and “Necessity is the mother of invention” by quickly developing and deploying the F-86.

Sabre jets were more aerodynamically stable, had radar gunsight, and could dive quicker than their Communist-made opponents, making them more effective in high-speed jet dogfights.

Even though the F-86’s long-touted 10:1 kill ratio is still mostly true, it has been questioned more recently.

When these updated estimates are considered, the U.S. still has a kill ratio of almost 5.6 to 1.

A few people may have their feathers ruffled (excuse the avian pun) because I’ve decided to fly a Harrier instead of a more popular fighter jet, such as the F-4 Phantom.

The only planes that have never lost a dogfight in the air are the Sea Harrier, the American F-15E Eagle, and the Russian Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker. I believe the flanker’s 6:0 record is insufficient for a Top 5 position.

In contrast, the Harrier was important in Britain’s 1982 victory over Argentina in the Falkland Islands War, with 20 verified kills and no losses attributable to it. Although it has a long and honorable record in battle, the Phantom cannot make such a claim.

Anyway, what do you, the readers, think of my choices? How strongly do you agree or disagree, and why? Go ahead and start being critical of this post.

F-15EX. Image Credit: Boeing.

F-15EX. Image Credit: Boeing.

F-14 Tomcat. Image: Creative Commons.

Right rear overhead view of an F-14AB Tomcat aircraft of Fighter Squadron 143 (VF-143), the Pukin’ Dogs, in flight over desert terrain.

Right rear overhead view of an F-14AB Tomcat aircraft of Fighter Squadron 143 (VF-143), the Pukin’ Dogs, in flight over desert terrain.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon with the 79th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, flies over the Gulf of Mexico, Nov. 8, 2021. Personnel and aircraft from the 79th FS traveled to Florida to participate in Checkered Flag 22-1, a large-force aerial exercise held at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, which fosters readiness and interoperability through the incorporation of fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft during air-to-air combat training. The 22-1 iteration of the exercise was held November 8-19, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Betty R. Chevalier)

An AV-8B Harrier from Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 214 performs a vertical take off from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). Boxer is underway conducting training off the coast of Southern California.

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