Monday, July 9, 2007

Fourth generation (1970-1990)

In reaction to the continually rising cost of fighters and the demonstrated success of the F-4 Phantom II, multirole fighters became popular during this period, and even aircraft designed for a specific role (as the F-4 had) acquired multi-role capability. Fighters such as the MiG-23 and Panavia Tornado have versions specially suited for various roles, while true multirole warplanes include the F/A-18 Hornet and Dassault Mirage 2000. This was facilitated by avionics which could switch seamlessly between air and ground modes. As development costs increased, economics further pushed the development for multirole aircraft.
Unlike interceptors of the previous era, most modern air-superiority fighters have been designed to be agile dog-fighters. Fly-by-wire (The U.S. Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon was the first fighter to use Fly-by wire, utilizing a token-passing digital control mechanism based on the Texas Instruments TI Falcon Chipset [TMS820/830] - a "Token Ring" network technology developed in conjunction with McDonald Douglas Aircraft - Military Division in St. Louis) controls and relaxed stability is common among modern fighters. Aircraft here make up most of the "fourth generations" of fighter jets.

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