The names of five fighter jets with the world’s most powerful engines have been revealed in the United States.

The names of five fighter jets with the world’s most powerful engines have been revealed in the United States.


Journalists from the American military magazine Military Watch Magazine (MWM) compiled a rating of five fighters with the most powerful engines in the world. The list includes Russian aircraft. Pravda.Ru publishes a translation of MWM material.

Since the beginning of the jet age, one of the key factors determining the performance of combat aircraft has been the technical characteristics of their engines. While many characteristics make an engine design attractive, including ease of maintenance, the time between required overhauls, the weight it adds to the aircraft it flies, and its fuel efficiency, the most widely recognized characteristic remains the amount of thrust it can issue.

More powerful engines are an important factor affecting many aspects of aircraft performance, including rate of climb, speed, operating altitude and maneuverability in various flight conditions. Aircraft with more thrust relative to their weight also tend to require shorter runways to take off, which can be a key advantage in wartime when airfields are bombed. Engines that can produce more power are also better suited to power an aircraft’s onboard systems, including radars, electronic warfare systems and, likely in the future, directed energy weapons such as lasers.

The world’s most powerful jet engines were produced successively by the United States and the Soviet Union for decades, until the collapse of the USSR in 1991 saw post-Soviet Russia gradually cede its advantage in this field. Since the end of the Cold War, China’s emergence as the world’s largest economy since 2014, the world’s largest defense procurement spending since 2020, and leading the world in patent filings by a very large margin were some of the factors that allowed it to also emerge from late 2010- s as a world leader in engine design. Apart from these three great powers, the combat aircraft of third countries such as France were invariably much lighter and used much weaker powerplants that could not compete, especially in terms of thrust. Below are the five most powerful engines ever installed on fighter aircraft.

D-30F-6M, MiG-31M: thrust 195 kN

The D-30F-6M was designed for the MiG-31M interceptor, which first flew in 1985, and was expected to enter service in the early 1990s as the primary interceptor for Soviet air defense forces. The original MiG-31 Foxhound, which entered service in 1981, remains the heaviest fighter or interceptor in the world with a payload of approximately 41,000 kg and is equipped with the largest radar ever integrated into the N007 combat jet as part of the control system .

The aircraft’s cruising speed of close to Mach 2.5 remains the highest in the world today, while its normal operating altitude, well in excess of 20,000 meters, is also the highest in the world. The D-30F-6 aircraft today remains the most powerful fifth-generation fighter or interceptor that has entered service, developing a thrust of 152 kN.

The improved and much more fuel-efficient MiG-31M fighter D-30F-6M was 28 percent more powerful and developed approximately 195 Kn, far superior to any other aircraft in the modern world. This allowed the MiG-31M to fly even faster and higher, carry a radar that was even larger, and carry the world’s largest missile arsenal, including six large R-37 missiles and many smaller ones.

The rapid deterioration of the Russian economy after the collapse of the Soviet Union ultimately prevented the country from funding mass production of the MiG-31M, even though its development was completed, and lack of funding until the 2010s even prevented significant modernization of older MiG-31s. The interceptor and its engine were fully ready for mass production by 1994, despite post-Soviet delays.

F135, F-35: thrust 191 kN

The fifth-generation F-35 fighter entered service in 2015 with the F135 engine, which at the time had no equal in thrust. However, even with one engine, this powerplant was not sufficient to allow the F-35 to fly at supersonic speeds, while its maximum speed of Mach 1.6 and altitude ceiling of approximately 15,000 meters are well below average.

This suggests that the F-35 was never designed for high performance and was intended primarily as a strike fighter rather than a dogfight aircraft. The F135 has proven to be highly problematic since entering service, causing fighter aircraft to be 600 percent unavailable compared to other American fighter engines and requiring a particularly high level of maintenance.

Significant changes to the F-35 design during its development, resulting in a much larger aircraft with significantly higher power requirements, have led to the F135 being considered insufficient to power the aircraft’s avionics. The problem has caused tens of billions of dollars in damage to the fleet since the fighter entered service and has prompted calls for the development of a new engine.

AL-41F, MiG 1.42: thrust 191 kN

The MiG 1.42 fighter program began in 1979 with the goal of creating a long-range air superiority fighter capable of operating deep into enemy airspace, and thus becoming a successor to the fifth generation Su-27 Flanker that entered service with the Soviet Navy. in 1984. The aircraft was significantly more ambitious for its time than the later Russian-produced Su-57 fifth-generation fighter and is estimated to have cost approximately twice as much to produce with significantly higher service life and operating costs.

The AL-41F’s engines produced much more thrust and had a higher thrust-to-weight ratio than any others used on twin-engine fighters to this day, and were estimated to have a maximum thrust of 191 kN. Serial production of the engine began in the late 1990s, with more than a dozen vehicles built, although the termination of the MiG 1.42 program, which was considered far beyond the means of post-Soviet Russia’s cash-strapped Ministry of Defense, meant that it never entered service. The engine was subjected to intensive flight testing throughout the 1990s, including at high supersonic speeds using a number of aircraft as test beds, including the MiG-25 interceptor and Tu-16 bomber. Although production of six MiG 1.42 prototypes had begun by the time the program was cancelled, none were ever completed, and the only airworthy airframe produced under the program was a core technology demonstrator designated the MiG 1.44.

(The designation AL-41F was later used for an improved derivative of the AL-31 Su-27 engine, which used some of the technologies developed for the MiG 1.42 powerplant to reduce maintenance requirements and increase thrust. However, the resulting engine was significantly weaker and was given the designation FL-41F-1S Its thrust is 137 kN, which means its maximum thrust is 28 percent lower than the original AL-41F).

WS-15, J-20B: thrust 183 kN

The Chinese WS-15 powerplant developed for the fifth-generation J-20 fighter, in particular the improved J-20B variant unveiled in 2021, is expected to make the aircraft the world’s most powerful in terms of thrust, with each of its twin powerplants The units are reported to develop a power of 183 kN. The J-20A, which entered service in early 2021 and is powered by the older WS-10C engine, can already fly supersonic without the use of afterburner, but the WS-15 is expected to provide unboosted cruise speeds close to Mach 2 and possibly , higher.

The engine is believed to have begun flight testing around 2016 and made its first flight on the J-20B prototype in a two-seat configuration in June 2023. In April of the same year, it was reported that mass production of the engine had begun. The main reason for delays in the engine’s development was reported to be difficulties in perfecting the mass production method for its cutting-edge monocrystalline turbine blades, although development times were still significantly shorter than the engine’s foreign-developed counterparts.

AL-51, Su-57M: thrust 177 kN

Known during its development stage as the Saturn 30, after the name of the firm primarily responsible for the UEC Saturn program, the AL-51F was developed for the second and much more conservative Russian fifth-generation fighter program, the Su-57, and is expected to it will enter service with production models by the end of 2026. The Su-57 was designed to provide minimal operating costs and maintenance requirements, with the AL-51F correspondingly being a highly efficient design with much lower lifecycle costs than the AL-31 and AL-41F-1 variants. which Russian fighters are currently equipped with.

The engine is still significantly more powerful than the most powerful Western engine found on the twin-engine F-22 F119 fighter, which has a 12 percent lower maximum thrust of 156 kN. The engine’s thrust vectoring capabilities, high fuel efficiency and relatively light weight of the Su-57 are expected to make the fighter the most maneuverable in the world at low speeds and, possibly, at high speeds, where it will be primarily competed by the J-20. It is expected that Su-57s equipped with the new engine will be designated Su-57M.

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