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Evolution of Fighter planes since WW II


molnibalage
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Without watching these, can I hazard a guess to how aircraft evolved? The 2 primary things designers have always been looking to improve are altitude and speed, which could probably be placed together under “performance”, and secondarily weaponry when they can manage. Biplanes gave way to monoplanes (except for niche roles) because the monoplane is generally faster. Forced induction replaced natural aspiration so bombers and interceptors could fly higher. The introduction of jet engines replaced props, which let aircraft fly higher and faster at the same time, and the cycle starts anew with the advancement of jet engines. Once missiles finally became reliable enough to use exclusively, the weaponry category probably takes a more leading role in the equation. For modern times, stealth is becoming a hot topic, but the actual list of “stealth aircraft” is rather short, and I suspect that fuel consumption is going to become rather important with all the environmentalist policies being thrown around. 
 

Hmmmm, that just gave me an idea, but it will have to wait for tomorrow. 

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1 hour ago, Lord_James said:

The introduction of jet engines replaced props, which let aircraft fly higher and faster at the same time, and the cycle starts anew with the advancement of jet engines. Once missiles finally became reliable enough to use exclusively, the weaponry category probably takes a more leading role in the equation.

Things were sort of following that "go higher fly faster" mantra until the 70s, when it became clear that turbofans could offer much greater longevity and serviceability than turbojets, and at the same time transistors had all of a sudden gotten cheap and efficient, replacing vacuum tubes.

Transistors offered the potential for aircraft to become far more autonomous, as well as significantly improving the accuracy of radars (and reducing their size... without which fox-3s wouldn't be possible).

 

All of this contributed to the extension of air combat beyond the visual range, largely accomplished with long range radar guided missiles, and that's why stealth is such a hot commodity, for the few nations with industrial bases strong enough to produce stealth aircraft. To date only the US , China and Russia have done so.

2 hours ago, Lord_James said:

and I suspect that fuel consumption is going to become rather important with all the environmentalist policies being thrown around. 

I sort of doubt that, I think aircraft will be burning fossil fuels long after the last gas car has been retired. Even the lightest battery has nowhere near the energy per weight as good old aviation fuel, and weight is the primary concern with any aircraft.

 

Nuclear aircraft may become feasible, though they would need to be absolutely massive, and would be naturally suited to long sorties. Nuclear powered aircraft could in theory remain airborne for years at a time, so I'm positive when they do show up they'll be crewless.

 

I'm sort of imagining a giant flying drone with onboard nuclear reactors, perhaps functioning as a 24/7 AWACS over a combat area, maybe providing high resolution footage of ground targets as well.

 

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1 hour ago, watch_your_fire said:

Things were sort of following that "go higher fly faster" mantra until the 70s, when it became clear that turbofans could offer much greater longevity and serviceability than turbojets, and at the same time transistors had all of a sudden gotten cheap and efficient, replacing vacuum tubes.

Transistors offered the potential for aircraft to become far more autonomous, as well as significantly improving the accuracy of radars (and reducing their size... without which fox-3s wouldn't be possible).

 

All of this contributed to the extension of air combat beyond the visual range, largely accomplished with long range radar guided missiles, and that's why stealth is such a hot commodity, for the few nations with industrial bases strong enough to produce stealth aircraft. To date only the US , China and Russia have done so.

 

Yeah, I tried to break up my points to reflect several of the major milestones in aviation history, but I guess that’s what I get for trying to simplify a complex topic while on lunch break. 
 

1 hour ago, watch_your_fire said:

 

I sort of doubt that, I think aircraft will be burning fossil fuels long after the last gas car has been retired. Even the lightest battery has nowhere near the energy per weight as good old aviation fuel, and weight is the primary concern with any aircraft.

 

Nuclear aircraft may become feasible, though they would need to be absolutely massive, and would be naturally suited to long sorties. Nuclear powered aircraft could in theory remain airborne for years at a time, so I'm positive when they do show up they'll be crewless.

 

I'm sort of imagining a giant flying drone with onboard nuclear reactors, perhaps functioning as a 24/7 AWACS over a combat area, maybe providing high resolution footage of ground targets as well.

 

 

A ha! But you have forgotten the all important buzz word: HyDrOgEn!!! It doesn’t matter that hydrogen is difficult to produce, annoying to contain, highly reactive to a lot of things you might not want it to react to, AND leaves behind steam which is not only visible to infrared, but also to radar which can completely nullify any stealth features an aircraft might come with, it’s the FuTuRe!!! 
 

On a less satirical note, I wasn’t even going to try and claim that they will try to phase out fossil fuels from aircraft; I already know that’s completely retarded. I was more remarking that jet engine designers might be forced to conform to some emissions standards like in the civilian market. Although that thought is also retarded, sadly it’s not above the realm of possibilities, from my outside perspective at least. Though, if “full stealth” (B2 or F117) were a more industrialized option, that can be scientifically estimated and exploited, slower flying “fighter jets” might still be just as capable as aircraft today. 

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