Why Modern Jets Are Slow

Comparing Speeds of New and Old Fighter Jets.



By: Shaan Sharma, Journalist

In the 1970s, fighter jets went faster than our current fighter jets. There are many examples of this, one of the most notable planes that is very fast was the Dassault Mirage 2000, which could reach a top speed of 1,452 MPH. Although, the most modern American fighter jet, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, can only go a top speed of 1,200 MPH.

a fighter jet flying in the sky
Source: Ramapasha Laksono

Why is this? Many believe that it’s due to the more heavy weapons the F-35 holds, but some think that it’s due to the weight. The F-35 weighs 8,000 pounds more than the Dassault Mirage 2000, though this is not the whole answer.

The true reasoning is the trade offs for maneuverability the turn time of the F-35 is significantly lower than older planes. Which means that the F-35 has been engineered to be slower so that it can make more precise movements in the air. The F-35 also has thrust vectoring allowing it to hover on take-off and move in the direction it wants to more fluent. Thrust vectoring is the adjustment of the angle of the engine which allows the plane to turn more precisely. Additional features the F-35 has that other older planes don’t have are larger wings for better turning and a larger engine.

The F-35 gave up its speed to gain stealth, this is important due to the F-35 needing to be able to avoid radar locks, preventing missiles from tracking and hitting it. The F-35 also needs to be able to not be tracked by ground radars in foreign territory. For  higher accuracy, the F-35 more so relies on its missiles rather than the gun. Although the F-35 is slower, it does not need to be very fast due to it being long-range fighter jet. Although older fighter jets were faster, the F-35 has better maneuverability, weapon accuracy, and stealth, which is needed in the current world.







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