Too often we receive questions from our lovely readers about the most powerful and best military force in Africa or Most Strongest, best or powerful Air Force in Africa.
There are criteria used in ranking this Fighter jets which includes in this order.
- Survivability (Twin-engine Jet ranks higher than single engine).
- Technology (which includes Avionics, Electronics, Radar System, RWR, EW,IRST etc.)
- Speed and Range
We also considered pilot opinion and reports during the analysis. The data used is also based on publicly available information from the manufacturers, Users and credible sources.
This list contains only operational jets and not those in development or in prototype stage. Our definition of a ‘FIGHTER JET’ is an Aircraft designed to combat other enemy aircraft in the air. Note that single role aircraft like Bombers, Close air support, Ground attack aircraft are not listed while interceptors, interdiction and multi-role aircraft can be featured if it meets the criteria listed above.
African is a beautiful continent with diverse breathtaking scenery and a diverse ethic and cultural people. The vast difference in culture in African usually means that there’s always rivalry among its neighbors which usually leads to bitter conflicts.
In most African conflicts, the Air Force usually play a lead role after the Army hence the widespread use of Fighter jets. Africans are known for their proud and fierce warrior spirit hence, Africans airmen take that fierce fighting spirit into the air just as their counterpart battle on the ground.
No 10) MiG-23 Flogger
This fighter jet got its Bad-ass name (FLOGGER) from NATO top brass after they realized the true capability of the jet first hand when it defeated many western jets of that era in air-to air combat exercise. This fighter jet is unique in the sense that it has a variable-geometric swing wing which enables it perform a wide range of aerial maneuvers flawlessly from simple Combat Air Patrol (CAP) to intercepting high altitude aggressive bombers. It was developed to replace the legacy MiG-21 FishBed fighter jet which performed exceptionally well during the Vietnam war and beyond. The lessons learned from the MiG-21 was incorporated in the MiG-23. This aircraft boast an impressive suite of radar, avionic and other technology which the MiG-21 lacks while offering superior performance over the FishBed. The Variable Geometry wing makes this fighter very agile and nimble therefore a formidable opponent to meet in the deadly African airspace.
|Ethiopia||Multirole||10 Mig-23 BN/UB|
No 9) Dassault Mirage F1
Although the Mirage is getting old been built in the late 1966 its still a very capable fighter jet going toe-to-toe with its more modern counterparts. The Mirage F1 is a French built Fighter/Attack aircraft. During its day it was one of the most successful fighters especially during the Cold war. Armament includes a DEFA 30mm revolver-type cannon. It has a total of seven hard-points which can be used to carry both Air-to-Air missiles and Air-to-Ground munitions. The best variant of the F1 is the South African Air Force (SAAF) version which was highly modified. Although information about the SAAF Mirage F1 version is classified by the South African Government but a former USAF F-16 pilot who flew the F1 stated that the aircraft is as accurate as the USAF F-15 Strike Eagle in weapons delivery. The SAAF Mirage F1 is among the first combat aircraft to use a Helmet Mounted Sight (HMS) used for targeting AA missiles during WVR engagement when the enemy aircraft is off bore-sight. In 1996, Ex French Mirage pilot said that the early F16A was no match for the Mirage F1 after a USAF Belgian aerial exercise was conducted between both jet.
|Gabon||Fighter||6/Mirage F1 AZ|
|Libya||Multirole||38/F1 AD,BD,ED||Unknown number left|
No 8) Dassault Mirage 2000
A 4th generation multi-role fighter with nine hard-points for carrying varying munitions. It has two on each wing and five under the fuselage. In terms of radar, it is equipped with a Thomson-CSF multi-mode RDY Doppler radar which has multi-targeting capability furthermore, it also has look-down/shoot down mode and the ability to detect up-to twenty-four aerial targets while tracking and scanning eight. The Mirage 2000 has an excellent aerial performance with a max speed of 2,530 km/h and a ferry range of 3,335 km. The Mirage 2000 can carry the ASMP tactical nuclear bomb.
No 7) MiG-29 Fulcrum
The MiG-29 Fulcrum is a lightweight Air Superiority/Air Defense super-maneuverable airplane with air-to-ground capability. The Fulcrum is a very agile fighter which has superb acceleration and can handle a sustained 9G turn. The fulcrum can also attain a blistering speed of Mach 2.3 also with a look-down shoot down radar and fourteen weapons hard-point, the Fulcrum is capable of handling most air threats -with a 30mm GSz-30-1 cannon a single bullet hit could devastate an enemy fighter. In an air combat if the MiG-29 manage to get to WVR of the enemy then the MiG-29 would have a big advantage. The fulcrum is capable of doing the Cobra maneuver’ which is said to break enemy radar lock-on and evade pursuing aircraft. Furthermore, With the Helmet Mounted System (HMS) the Mig-29 Fulcrum is a deadly aircraft to meet in a dogfight. The IRST/LR suite on-board the MiG-29 can be used to track enemy target without the use of the radar and if the enemy contact is lost it automatically switches to radar. The Russian designers who designed the IRST said that the system is even more accurate than the radar on WVR engagement. This fighter is primarily designed for defensive combat and would appeal to most African countries or less wealthy countries.
No 6) SAAB JAS 39 Gripen
SAAB JAS 39 Gripen is a lightweight multi-role 4th generation aircraft designed by the Swedes. Having an advanced aerodynamic layout, ground attack and limited Electronic Warfare capability. This jet has awesome aerial agility with an acceleration from Mach 0.5 to Mach 1.1 in just about 30 seconds in low altitude. The Gripen can reach a speed of Mach 1.15 (1400 km/h) at sea level and Mach 2 at high level. It can also fly to a distance of 3,000 km using external fuel tanks. The Gripen is equipped with an Ericsson PS-05/A Pulse Doppler radar which can detect fighters at 120 km range, it can engage four enemy aircraft at once. The Gripen armament includes internally mounted Maser BK-27 27 mm cannon. It is claimed that this aircraft has the lowest operating costs among the modern fighter jets currently in service. The Gripen is known to be quite stealthy having a low RCS.
|South Africa||Multirole||25/C/D||Most in Active storage|
No 5) Lockheed Martins F-16 Fighting Falcon
Every fighter jet lover must have heard of the F-16, it’s the first jets name you hear when ‘fighter jet’ is mentioned. The F-16 is a lightweight multi-role combat-proven jet. It has been sold to many countries around the world. With a wingspan of 31 ft, height of 16.7 ft and a max speed of more than Mach 2. It was designed as an Air Superiority fighter but has evolved over the years and can now undertake almost all spectrum of aerial warfare. Over 4500 units has been produced worldwide. It spots a bubble canopy, fly-by-wire and eleven weapon stations. The F-16 can carry a wide range of weapons, it is compatible with almost all NATO munitions. The Fighting Falcon’s flight control system makes it extremely easy to fly the plane and its negative stability contributes greatly to its agility in the air. With its ease of control F-16 pilots are fond of saying ‘you don’t fly the falcon, it fly’s you’.
|Egypt||Multi-role||240/Multiple variant||4th Largest user outside the US|
|Morocco||Fighter||F-16C/D Block 52|
No 4) MiG-25 Foxbat
Although designed primarily as an interceptor to wipe out supersonic bombers from the sky this wickedly named giant aircraft has some great stats. A world champion with about 21 different world title with some still stand unbeaten today. Famously known for its blistering Mach-screeching speed coupled with high altitude tolerance and a massive weapons load. With a speed of Mach 2.83 in sustained flight and a max speed of over Mach 3+ in short burst this fighter can hunt down and catch up with any aircraft in the sky. Designed with a large powerful radar and the ability to carry four Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile coupled with an impressive max altitude with over sixty-five thousand feet it is well suited for interception, reconnaissance, ELINT and Strike. Although not a dedicated fighter’ in a true sense albeit a fighter jet nonetheless. The Foxbat incorporates electronics to guide it semi-autonomously to its target because the human pilot reflexes might be too slow to effectively handle such speed. During the Gulf war, Iraqi Air Force MiG-25 evaded more than 10 missiles fired at it from three USAF F-15 while outrunning more eight F-15s in another incident.
No 3) Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker
The Flanker is a heavy class multirole air superiority fighter designed to wrestle air superiority from enemy fighters. It is a twin-engine super-maneuverable fighter jet. The Flanker has great controllability and a high Angle-of-Attack, it was designed for air combat and strike missions deep behind enemy lines but has proven to be versatile enough to undertake interception and strike roles. With an outstanding range of more than 4000km and top speed of Mach 2.35 (2,500km/h) the Su-27 is a beast in the air. It can carry up to eight air-to-air missiles or a bombs. With an experienced pilot onboard, the flanker can perform several breathtaking maneuvers like the Pugachev cobra and the ‘tail slide’ maneuver to the delight of audience in numerous airshows. The Su-27 Flanker has an advanced radar and avionics systems also fitted with an inbuilt Infrared Search and Track (IRST) which can be used to detect and engage enemy fighters without using the radar.
|Angola||Multirole||7||1 shot down by SA-14 MANPAD|
|Eritrea||Air-Superiority||9/Su-27K and UB||1 defected to Ethiopia|
No 2) Dassault Rafale
The Rafale a Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMCA with an advanced technology system. With the onboard OSF system, this aircraft can target multiple enemies from 31 miles without using its radar. The Rafale is an excellent dogfighter with a low Radar Cross Sectional (RCS), it can carry out air domination, ground attack, intelligence and nuclear deterrent missions according to the requirements of the battlefield. During an advanced air combat exercise in September 2009 the Rafale defeated the Eurofighter Typhoon 9-1 in favor of the Rafale. The Rafale is very reliable with an outstanding air-to-ground capability. The Rafale can also carry nuclear weapons as standard.
|Egypt||Multirole||9 (6 DM and EM)||24 on order|
No 1) Sukhoi Su-30
The Su-30 is a heavy sized fighter jet super-maneuverable fighter with a top speed of Mach 2.3 (2,132km/h) and Range of 3,000km, the Su-30 can perform amazing aerobatic maneuvers. The Sukhoi Su-30 has a large weapons payload carrying capacity. The Su-30 has a very big and powerful AESA radar which with look down shoot down capability. In WVR engagement, the Su-30 is very agile with a fast turn rate and smaller turn radius utilizing thrust vectoring technology. The Su-30 can also act as a mini-AWACS transferring targeting data to other allied aircrafts in the vicinity. In an International Air Combat Exercise, Indian Air Force Su-30MKI defeated the Eurofighter Typhoon 12-0 in Within Visual Range (WVR) exercise.
|Algeria||Air-Superiority Fighter||52 Su-30 MKA||14 on order|
|Angola||Air-Superiority Fighter||18 Su-30K|
|Uganda||Multirole||6 Su-30 MK2|