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Stealth Aircraft
The sharply angled sufaces of the F-117A stealth fighter, shown here in flight, help the plane elude detection by enemy radar. The F117-A is also equipped with electronic countermeasures to jam enemy radar, special paint that absorbs radar, and engine housings that mix cool air with the exhaust to decrease the plane's emission of infrared radiation.
B-2 Spirit
The Northrup Grumman B-2 Spirit is the United States Air Force’s most advanced (and most expensive) bomber. Its unique shape and radar-absorbent surface help it elude enemy detection systems.
F-14 Fighter
The swing-wing F-14 Tomcat is the United States Navy’s first-line fighter aircraft. Similar to the U.S. Air Force’s F-15 Eagle, the F-14 is designed for carrier landings. It has a top speed of over 2400 km/h (1500 mph, or Mach 2.34) and a combat radius of 1600 km (1000 mi).
Concorde Airplane
Distinguished by a pointed nose that angles downward during takeoff, the Anglo-French Concorde flies at more than twice the speed of sound. The delta-winged plane was co-developed by Britain and France and began passenger service in 1976. Controversy has surrounded its use in the United States; the supersonic plane is very noisy, and some believe its sonic booms harm the environment.
B-1B Bomber
The United States Air Force contracted with Rockwell International to build the B-1 in 1970 as a manned strategic bomber. After President Jimmy Carter halted the plane’s development in 1977, President Ronald Reagan revived the program as the B-1B in 1981. The B-1B, which costs million per plane, features the swing-wing, which allows it to fly at both slow speeds and supersonic speeds.
F-15 Eagle Fighter
Usually smaller and faster than civilian transport planes, military fighter planes engage in combat-oriented activities during wartime and in rescue and scientific operations during peacetime. On March 31, 1993, the United Nations Security Council authorized aircraft of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to patrol the skies during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This F-15 Eagle Fighter, manufactured by the McDonnell Douglas Corporation, enforces the “no-fly zone” over the region.
F/A-18 Hornet
The F/A-18 Hornet is the United States Navy’s newest fighter designed for aircraft carrier operations. The plane has also been exported to several other countries. The Hornet is intended to replace the U.S. Navy’s older F-14 Tomcat fighters.