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Top 10 Attack Aircraft

 

   Strike fighters, ground attack aircraft, tactical bombers or interdictors are typically used to attack enemy targets far behind the frontlines. These aircraft usually attack supply convoys, thus delaying enemy forces and supplies from reaching the frontlines. These aircraft are sometimes related to air superiority fighters or multi-role fighters, however their emphasis is focused on ground attack role. Still most attack aircraft have an air-to-air combat capability. These aircraft typically have long-range and can operate in significant distances from their bases.

    Often we receive many questions which is the best strike, and ground attack or interdictor aircraft in the world. Which is the greatest modern attack aircraft and why. Our Top 10 analysis is based on the combined score of armament, range, speed, technology, and some other factors. All of these aircraft mentioned here are incredibly powerful and devastating. This analysis is based on specifications, available data and technical comparison. Pilot training is also important, as performance of the actual aircraft depends from the pilot performance. This list do not contains aircraft that are currently under development of at the prototype stage. It includes only operational warplanes.

   Currently top 10 attack aircraft in the world are these:

 

F-15E Eagle

Nr.1 F-15E Eagle (USA)

 

   The F-15E Eagle was originally developed by McDonnel Douglas as a private venture. It is a dedicated twin-seat attack aircraft, that evolved form the F-15 air superiority fighter. This aircraft appeared in the 1980s and was seen as a possible replacement for the F-111. First operational aircraft were delivered in 1989. It was referred as the Strike Eagle, however this name was not adopted officially.

   The type made its combat debut during Operation Desert Storm, and proved outstanding in this and subsequent combat actions.

   The F-15E is still used by the US Air Force. As of 2014 USAF operated just over 200 of these attack aircraft. It has been exported to Saudi Arabia (F-15S) and Israel (F-15I). However these were downgraded export versions. It was also exported to South Korea (F-15K Slam Eagle) and Singapore (F-15SG).

   The F-15E has different avionics and equipment than the F-15 air superiority fighter. It is fitted with targeting pods and other specialized ground attack equipment. The weapons system operator is in the rear cockpit.

   This aircraft can carry a whooping 10 400 kg of external ordnance or external fuel. It can carry various air-to-ground, anit-ship, anti-radiation missiles, bombs (including nuclear), and guided munitions. Also the F-15E retains its air-to-air capability and can carry the same air-to-air missiles as the F-15 air superiority fighter.

   The F-15E has a maximum speed of over 2 655 km/h and can reach altitude of 18.2 km. It has a range of around 2 500 km.

   If required, the F-15E can be optimized as an air superiority fighter.

 

 

Su-34

Nr.2 Su-34 (Russia)

 

   The Su-34 is a replacement for the ageing Su-24. It is a derivative of the Su-27 air superiority fighter. This attack aircraft is easily distinguished by its side-by-side cockpit and 'platypus' nose. Development of this aircraft was slow due to limited funding. It was first flown in 1990. In 1995 a pre-production aircraft was revealed.

   The Su-34 was adopted in 2014. As of 2015 Russian Air Force operates 76 of these attack aircraft. It was stated that total Russia's requirement is for 200 interdictors of new type to replace the ageing Su-24s. The Su-34 is being proposed for export, however so far it received no production orders.

   This aircraft has 10 underwing and underfusealage hardpoints for a wide range of weapons, including air-to-air, air-to-surface, anti-ship and anti-radiation missiles, guided or free fall bombs. The Su-34 normally carries 4 000 kg of weapons, however maximum capacity is 8 000 kg. Emphasis is placed on long-range standoff weapons.

   Unusual feature of the Su-34 is that it has a rearward facing radar and can launch air-to-air missiles at pursuing enemy aircraft. Cockpit and some other crucial components and systems are armored. Aircraft is fitted with comprehensive electronic counter measures equipment.

   This aircraft has a maximum speed of 1 900 km/h and can reach altitude of 14 km. It has a maximum range of around 2 000 - 2 500 km depending on the weapon load.

   The Su-34 can also carry electronic warfare or reconnaissance pods. This aircraft is also being proposed for the Russian Air Force to serve in the heavy interceptor, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare roles.

 

 

Panavia Tornado IDS

Nr.3 Panavia Tornado IDS (Germany, Italy, United Kingdom)

 

   Despite its age the multi-national Tornado Interdictor Strike (IDS) aircraft remains one of Europe's most important warplane. The various different attack, reconnaissance and defense suppression versions of this aircraft have played major roles during recent military operations.

   Development of the Tornado by the UK, West Germany and Italy begun in 1968, with the first flight by a prototype in 1974 and service deliveries beginning in 1979. Nearly 1 000 of these aircraft were built, until production ceased in 1998. It is currently in service with all three nations that developed it. Saudi Arabia was the only export customer. It operates 82 surviving aircraft. The Tornado IDS aircraft are being constantly upgraded in order to keep them operational. Various new systems and new weapons are being added.

   The Tornado IDS aircraft are primarily assigned the conventional long-range interdiction/overland attack role. The also have specialized missions that comprise maritime attack, air defense suppression and reconnaissance.

   This aircraft can carry up to 9 000 kg of ordnance, including air-launched cruise missiles, air-to-ground missiles, anti-tank guided missiles, free-fall and laser-guided bombs, anti-ship and anti-radiation missiles.

   The Tornado IDS has a maximum speed of 2 236 km/h and can reach altitude of 15 km. Typical combat range is claimed to be 1 390 km.

 

 

F/A-18F Super Hornet

Nr.4 F/A-18F Super Hornet (USA)

 

   The F/A-18F Super Hornet is a US carrier-capable attack aircraft. It is essentially a two-seat attack version of the single-seat F/A-18E. It basically similar to the single-seater and possesses identical equipment and virtually identical combat capability. This aircraft is in service with the US Navy and Marine Corps. The previous F/A-18 series aircraft served with distinction during various combat operations. This attack aircraft is in service with the US Navy. It has been exported to Australia.

   The F/A-18F is primarily operated by the US Navy in the night attack and forward air controller role. This two-seat aircraft can be also used for pilot training. Some F/A-18F aircraft are fitted with sensors and can be also used for reconnaissance.

   This aircraft can carry over 7 000 kg of ordnance. It is armed with various air-to-ground, air-to-air, anti-ship and anti-radiation missiles. It can also carry laser-guided, nuclear and free fall bombs. It can be also fitted with unoperated rocket pods.

   The F/A-18F has a maximum speed of 1 915 km/h and can reach altitude of around 15 km. It has a maximum range of 2 350 km. Typical range of interdiction missions is around 1 400 km.

 

 

Su-24

Nr.5 Su-24 (Russia)

 

   Despite its age the Russian Su-24 remains a powerful long-range, low-level strike attack aircraft with real all-weather precision attack capability. With its variable geometry swing wing and side-by-side cockpit, the Su-24 is inevitably compared with the US General Dynamics F-111. The aircraft was never intended or used as a strategic bomber, however, a fact obscured by such comparisons. The Su-24 is more broadly equivalent to the Anglo-German-Italian Tornado. The aircraft made its first flight in 1970. It entered frontline service in 1973.

   The original Su-24 was never as capable as Western attack aircraft. Also its avionics was backward and unreliable. Its improved version, the Su-24M was a much better aircraft. It was adopted in 1986.

   The overall production total is probably between 900 - 1 200 aircraft, including variants until production ceased in 1993. It has been exported to a number of countries. This attack aircraft saw combat during the Soviet War in Afghanistan and some other military conflicts. Upgrade programmes continue for surviving Russian Su-24s to extend their service lives.

   This aircraft can carry up to 8 000 kg of ordnance. It is armed with various air-to-ground, anti-ship and anti-radiation missiles. It can also carry laser-guided and free fall bombs. Furthermore the Su-24 was designed to carry free-fall nuclear bombs.

   The Su-24 has a maximum speed of 1 320 km/h and can reach altitude of 17 km. It has a range of around 1 200 - 2 500 km depending on the weapon load.

   While optimized as a supersonic bomber the Su-24 aircraft was also intended to have a secondary reconnaissance role. The Su-24MR is a dedicated tactical reconnaissance version. The Su-24MP is a dedicated electronic warfare aircraft.

 

 

JH-7

Nr.6 JH-7 (China)

 

   The JH-7 is a Chinese interdiction and maritime attack aircraft. In China it is known as Fei Bao or Flying Leopard. It has been in development since the mid-1970s to meet a requirement from the Chinese air force and naval aviation for an all-weather interdictor. Although the prototype reportedly first flew in 1988, the programme was troubled by technical problems through-out the 1990s. It was adopted in 1994. As of 2014 a total of 240 of these aircraft were produced. A total of 120 aircraft are operated by Chinese Air Force and 120 by Naval Air Force.

   In design, the JH-7 resembles a scaled-up SEPECAT Jaguar. This attack aircraft features a wide range of indigenously-developed systems and equipment. Its engines are license-manufactured Rolls-Royce Spey turbofans.

   The JH-7 can carry 9 000 kg of weapon, including anti-ship missiles, anti-radiation missiles and air-to-air missiles. It can also carry various bombs, including laser- and satelite-guided.

   Performance of the JH-7 approaches that of the Tornado IDS, albeit with a reduced payload, but with a longer unrefueled range.

   The JH-7 has a maximum speed of 1 800 km/h and can reach altitude of 15.6 km. Range is around 2 000 km, depending on the weapon load and external fuel.

 

 

Mirage 2000D/N

Nr.7 Mirage 2000D/N (France)

 

   The Mirage 2000D and 2000N were both developed from Mirage 2000. This tactical bomber made its first flight in 1986. A total of 86 Mirage 2000D and 77 Mirage 2000N were produced.

   The Mirage 2000D is a long-range attack aircraft, while the Mirage 2000N is a dedicated nuclear attack version. It carries a single 150- or 300-kT yield standoff missile.

   The 2000D carries a nuclear missile on a centerline pylon. However the 2000D carries a more diversified armament. It can carry around 5 000 kg of ordnance, including various air-to-surface missiles and bombs. Both aircraft can carry air-to-air missiles for self-defense.

   This tactical bomber has a maximum speed of 2 330 km/h and can reach altitude of 18 km. Range is around 1 500-1 800 km, depending on the weapon load and external fuel.

 

 

Mitsubishi F-2

Nr.8 Mitsubishi F-2 (Japan)

 

   The Mitsubishi F-2 is a Japanese close support and anti-shipping fighter. It is based on F-16C Fighting Falcon. This aircraft was adopted in 2001. Production ceased in 2011. A total of 94 aircraft were built. In Japan it was initially uses for fighter support role. However in 2005 it was reclassified by the Japanese MoD as a multi-role fighter.

   The F-2 has 11 hardpoints available for various stores, including the ASM-2 anti-ship missile as one of the principal weapons. Also it can carry various free fall bombs and a wide range of air-to-air missiles. Maximum weapon load is just over 8 000 kg.

   The Mitsubishi F-2 has a maximum speed of 2 100 km/h and can reach altitude of 18 km. Range is around 1 700 km, depending on the weapon load.

   The F-2A is a single-seater, while the F-2B is a twin-seater, used for training.

 

 

SEPECAT Jaguar

Nr.9 SEPECAT Jaguar (France / United Kingdom)

 

   The SEPECAT Jaguar is a joint French and British development. It was adopted back in 1973. However both French and British Jaguars are now retired. Today the only operator of this aircraft is India. However it is likely that condition of the Indian Jaguars is poor due to their age. An upgrade program to replace engines and avionics is planned, however it is being delayed by funding problems and bureaucracy.

   The Jaguar can carry 4 500 kg of ordnance on 5 hardpoints. It can carry various combinations of air-to-ground, anti-radiation, air-to-air missiles, bombs (including nuclear) and pods with unoperated rockets.

   This aircraft can be also fitted with electronic counter measures pod, reconnaissance pod, targeting pod, or external fuel tanks.

   The Jaguar has a maximum speed of 1 700 km/h and can reach altitude of 14 km. Range is around 1 700 km, depending on the weapon load and external fuel.

 

 

AMX

Nr.10 AMX International AMX (Brazil / Italy)

 

   The AMX is a multi-purpose aircraft, used for ground attack, interdiction, close air support and reconnaissance. It was developed by AMX International. It is a joint Brazilian and Italian development. This aircraft first flew in 1984. It was a relatively advanced and cost effective design. Italy ordered 187 of these aircraft, and Brazil - 79. The first operational aircraft was delivered in 1989.

   This aircraft can carry up to 3 800 kg of ordnance on 5 external hardpoints. These include air-to-ground missiles, anti-radiation missiles, free-fall and laser-guided bombs, pods with rockets. It can also carry air-to-air missiles for self-defense.

   The AMX has a maximum speed of 1 050 km/h and can reach altitude of 13 km. Range is around 1 800 km, depending on the weapon load and external fuel.

   There is also a two-seat version with reduced range.

   In the reconnaissance role, the AMX can either carry external photo or infra-red pods, or can be equipped with any one of three sensor pallets for internal carriage in the forward fuselage.

 

 

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