Specials

US Fighter Jets

January 2022
Operational timeline overview of post-war US jets.

In this timeline we will look into the operational history of US fighter jets since World War 2. From the P-80 in 1945 till the F-35C in 2019, the US Air Force, Navy and Marines operated 47 major types in the role of air superiority fighter / interceptor or multi role fighter aircraft.

Dating back in time we show general information about the type and special characteristic, for instance if the aircraft is capable of carrier operations, operational status and links to related articles or search for related photo’s.

Beside this overview of US jet fighters, other timelines will show US attack aircraft & bombers. Also we look into European and Russian fighters.

2019

Lockheed Martin

Carrier capabledirections_boat
US

F-35C Lightning II

Active, 276 planned for the USN.

Single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions. The F-35C variant is designed for catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery operations from aircraft carriers.


F-35C, CF-03 / SD-73
2016

Lockheed Martin

US

F-35A Lightning II

Active, 1763 Planned for USAF.

Single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions.


F-35A, 15-5164/LF
2015

Lockheed Martin

Carrier capabledirections_boatMarinesanchorVSTOLswap_vert
US

F-35B Lightning II

Active, 353 F-35Bs and 67 F-35Cs planned

Single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions. The F-35B is the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant


F-35B, 168727 / VM-19
2005

Lockheed Martin

US

F-22 Raptor

Active,

Single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft. Designed as an air superiority fighter, but also has ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence capabilities.


F-22, 09-4180 / FF
1999

McDonnell Douglas (Boeing)

Carrier capabledirections_boat
US

F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

Active, 608+ Build

Twin-engine, carrier-capable, multirole fighter aircraft variants based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet.


F/A-18F, 168930
1991

Grumman

Carrier capabledirections_boat
US

F-14D Super Tomcat

Retired, 712 build (all variants)

Carrier-capable supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, twin-tail, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft. The final variant fitted with General Electric F110-GE-400 engines and new avionics, radar and glass cockpit.


F-14D, 164601 / AD-160
1988

McDonnell Douglas (Boeing)

US

F-15E Strike Eagle

Active, 513 build.

All-weather multirole strike fighter. Primary role ground attack.


F-15E, 90-0257 / WA
1987

McDonnell Douglas

Carrier capabledirections_boatMarinesanchor
US

F/A-18C/D Hornet

Active, 1480 build (incl. A/B models)

Twin-engine, supersonic, all-weather, carrier-capable, multirole combat jet. Able to act as fighter and attack aircraft.


F/A-18C, 163746 / AB-307

Grumman

Carrier capabledirections_boat
US

F-14B Tomcat

Retired, 38 newly build and 48 A models upgraded.

Carrier-capable supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, twin-tail, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft. Improvements included new GE F110-GE-400 engines and upgraded aviation package. Designated F-14A+ before being re-designated as F-14B.


F-14B, 163410 / AC-104
1984

General Dynamics

US

F-16C/D Fighting Falcon

Active, 4604 build (all models)

Single-engine multirole all-weather fighter aircraft. The C/D model has improved cockpit avionics and radar which added all-weather beyond-visual-range capability.


F-16C, 90-0700 / OH
1983

McDonnell Douglas

Carrier capabledirections_boat
US

F/A-18A/B Hornet

Retired, 1480 build (incl. C/D models)

Twin-engine, supersonic, all-weather, carrier-capable, multirole combat jet. Able to act as fighter and attack aircraft.


F/A-18A, NASA 161519
1979

McDonnell Douglas

US

F-15C/D Eagle

Active, 575 (C/D)

Twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter aircraft. The C/D model featured improved avionics, introduced in 1979.


F-15C, 78-0515 / WA
1978

General Dynamics

US

F-16A/B Fighting Falcon

Retired, 4604 build (all models)

Single-engine multirole all-weather fighter aircraft.


F-16A, 82-0958
1976

McDonnell Douglas

US

F-15A/B Eagle

Retired, 445 build (A/B model)

Twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter aircraft.


F-15A, 76-0008 / ST
1974

Grumman

Carrier capabledirections_boat
US

F-14A Tomcat

Retired, 478 F-14As build

Carrier-capable supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, twin-tail, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft.


F-14A, 162608 / AJ-100
1973

Northrop

Marinesanchor
US

F-5E/F Tiger/II

Active, 792 build (E), 146 (F)

Supersonic light fighter aircraft. E/F model were upgrades from the A/B model with new engines, lengthened fuselage and updated avionics.


F-5E, 741536 / AF-04
1972

McDonnell Douglas

Carrier capabledirections_boatMarinesanchor
US

F-4J/S/N Phantom II

Retired, 522 build (J model) and 302 converted (S), 228 F-4Bs converted (N model)

Two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter-bomber, initially designed for the US Navy. The J model was an improved F-4B. The S model was an improved F-4J. The N model was a converted B model similar to the F-4S.


YF-4J, 151497
1967

McDonnell Douglas

US

F-4E Phantom II

Retired, 1370 E models build

Two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter-bomber. USAF version with a M61 Vulcan cannon under the nose, improved engines and avionics.


F-4E, 68-0382
1963

McDonnell Douglas

US

F-4C/D Phantom II

Retired, 583 build (C model) 825 (D)

Two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet. Tactical fighter, ground-attack version for the USAF. F-4C with updated avionics and AN/APQ-109 radar.


F-4C, 63-7420
1962

Northrop

US

F-5A/B/C Freedom Fighter

Retired, 847 build (A/B/C model)

Supersonic light fighter aircraft. The C model was evaluated during the Vietnam war. It had a non retractable air-refueling probe on the left side.


F-5B, 72-0441 / FM
1960

McDonnell Douglas

Carrier capabledirections_boatMarinesanchor
US

F-4A/B Phantom II

Retired, 45 build (A) and 649 (B model)

Two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic tactical fighter jet. Ground-attack capability was added for the B-model. Orginally known as F4H-1F (A model) and F4H-1 (B-model)


F-4B, 152218 / NE-111
1959

Convair

US

F-106 Delta Dart

Retired, 342 build (A and B model)

All-weather interceptor aircraft. It turned out to be the last true-purpose interceptor.


QF-106A
1958

Lockheed

US

F-104 Starfighter

Retired, 153 (A-model), 26 (B), 27 (C) and 21 (D)

Single-engine, supersonic interceptor-, fighter bomber aircraft. The C version also had an inflight refuelling capability.


F-104C, NASA N820NA

Republic

US

F-105 Thunderchief

Retired, 71 build (B-model), 610 (D), 143 (F)

Supersonic fighter-bomber. The D model included all-weather capability. The F model was a two-seat trainer version of F-105D with lengthened forward fuselage.


F-105D, 62-4383 / RM
1957

McDonnell

US

F-101 Voodoo

Retired, 807 build.

Designed as a penetration fighter (bomber escort), but also filled the role of nuclear fighter bomber and photo reconnaissance aircraft. The B model was developed as interceptor aircraft.


F-101B, 57-0412

Vought

Carrier capabledirections_boatMarinesanchor
US

F-8 Crusader

Retired, 1219 build (total).

Single-engine, supersonic, carrier-based air superiority jet aircraft[


DF-8, 144427 / GF-29
1956

Convair

US

F-102 Delta Dagger

Retired, 1000 build.

Delta-wing supersonic interceptor aircraft. Its main purpose was to intercept invading Soviet strategic bombers line the Tu-95. The TF-102 trainer featured a side-by-side cockpit.


F-102A, 56-1413 / FC-413

Grumman

Carrier capabledirections_boat
US

F-11 (F11F) Tiger

Retired, 200 build.

Supersonic, single-seat carrier-based fighter.


F-11A, 141824 / Blue Angels 5

Douglas

Carrier capabledirections_boatMarinesanchor
US

F4D (F-6) Skyray

Retired, 422 build

Carrier-based fighter/interceptor. The F4D, later redesigned F-6 was only in service for 8 years.


F4D-1, 134748

McDonnell

Carrier capabledirections_boat
US

F3H Demon

Retired, 519 build

Carrier-based subsonic swept-wing fighter aircraft. Lots of features from the F3H were later used in the F-4 design.


F3H-2, 143492 / AK-104
1955

North American

Carrier capabledirections_boatMarinesanchor
US

FJ-4 Fury

Retired, 374 build.

Swept-wing carrier-capable fighter-bomber. Developed out of the FJ-3 the FJ-4 featured an entirely new wing design.


FJ-4B, 139531 / 151
1954

North American

US

F-100 Super Sabre

Retired, 2294 build.

Supersonic jet fighter aircraft. It stayed in service with the US ANG till 1979!. 209 D and F models were converted in to QF-100 unmanned target drones.


F-100, Thunderbirds

North American

Carrier capabledirections_boatMarinesanchor
US

FJ-2 / -3 Fury

Retired, 200 build (FJ-2), 538 build (FJ-3).

Swept-wing carrier-capable fighter. The FJ-2 was basically a naval version of the F-86. The FJ-3 featured a more powerful engine.


FJ-3M, 136142 / D-111

Republic

US

F-84F Thunderstreak

Retired, 3428 build (total)

Turbojet fighter-bomber aircraft. The F model had a swept wing, instead of a normal wing on the F-84 Thunderjet.


F-84F, 51-9433 / FS-433
1952

Grumman

Carrier capabledirections_boatMarinesanchor
US

F-9 Cougar

Retired, 1988 build (total, including Argentine Navy).

Swept-wing carrier-based fighter aircraft.


TF-9J, 143797 / 2N-517
1951

Vought

Carrier capabledirections_boatMarinesanchor
US

F7U Cutlass

Retired, 320 build.

Carrier-based jet fighter and fighter-bomber.


F7U-3, 129655

Douglas

Carrier capabledirections_boatMarinesanchor
US

F3D Skynight

Retired, 265 build.

Twin-engined, mid-wing jet carrier-based all-weather fighter / night fighter aircraft.


F3D-2T, 127074 / WF-2 USS Intrepid

North American

US

F-86D Sabre Dog

Retired, 2847 build (total)

All-weather interceptor, transonic jet fighter aircraft.


F-86D, 51-5976 / FU-976
1950

Lockheed

US

F-94 Starfire

Retired, 855 build.

First-generation jet powered all-weather, day/night interceptor.


(E)F-94A, 49-2500 / FA-500

Northrop

US

F-89 Scorpion

Retired, 1050 build.

All-weather, twin-engined interceptor aircraft. The first fighter equipped with guided missile ability.


F-89J, 52-1927 / FV-927
1949

Grumman

Carrier capabledirections_boatMarinesanchor
US

F9F Panther

retired, 1382 build.

Carrier-based jet fighter. The panther was extensively used during the Korean War.


F9F-8B, 141121 / 3H-386

North American

US

F-86 Sabre

Retired, 7800 build (US, Japan, Italy)

Swept-wing transonic jet fighter aircraft. The Sabre, well known from the Korean War, is the most-produced Western jet fighter with a total of 9860 build.


F-86F, 25012 / FU-012
1948

McDonnell

Carrier capabledirections_boatMarinesanchor
US

F2H Banshee

Retired, 895 build.

Single-seat carrier-based jet fighter aircraft. It was developed from the FH Phantom.


F2H-2, 124988 / LC-4
1947

Republic

US

F-84 Thunderjet

Retired, 7524 build (total), also used by most European countries.

Turbojet fighter-bomber aircraft. it was later developed into the swept-wing F-84F Thunderstreak.


F-84C, 47-1433

North American

Carrier capabledirections_boat
US

FJ-1 Fury

Retired, 33 build.

First operation jet aircraft in US Navy service. VF-51 was the only unit operating the type. It was phased out in favour of the F9F Panther.

McDonnell

Carrier capabledirections_boatMarinesanchor
US

FH-1 Phantom

Retired, 62 build.

Twinjet fighter aircraft.


1945

Lockheed

US

P-80 Shooting Star

Retired, 1715 build.

First US developed turbo jet fighter.


P-80B, 45-8490 / FT-490