An F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Sunliners of Strike Fighter Squadron 81 taxis onto a catapult before launching from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.
John Philip Wagner, Jr/U.S. Navy
An F-15E Strike Eagle was designed for long-range, high-speed interdiction without relying on escort or electronic warfare aircraft. It was derived from the F-15 Eagle, which was developed to enhance U.S. air superiority during the Vietnam War.
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A F-22 Raptor flies over Marietta, Georgia, home of the Lockheed Martin plant where it was built. The F-22 is the only fighter capable of simultaneously conducting air-to-air and air-to-ground combat missions.
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F-16 Fighting Falcons are parked at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center in Tucson, Arizona, on December 11, 2004. General Dynamics (which was later sold to Lockheed) delivered the U.S. Air Force its first F-16As in 1979. More than 4,500 of the fighters have been built, and they are used by more than 20 nations in addition to the United States.
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A F-35C conducts a test flight over the Chesapeake Bay on February 11, 2011. Inspections of F-35 engines have been ordered after a runway fire at Eglin Air Force Base on June 23. The F-35 Lightning II has been beset by delays and cost overruns in the years since its introduction.
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An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 52nd Fighter Wing, 81st Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, in flight during a NATO Operation Allied Force combat mission.
U.S. Air Force/FIle
An F/A-18 Hornet is pictured aboard the USS George H.W. Bush on May 19, 2009. The F/A-18 Hornet, a late-'70s contemporary of the Air Force's F-16 Fighting Falcon, became the workhorse of U.S. carrier-based air power and still supplements the Navy's and Marines' more current fleet of F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets. It is designed as both a fighter and an attack aircraft.
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Pilots perform daily flight checks on their F-5E/F Tiger aircraft in Key West, Florida, on January 7, 2005. The Vietnam-era aircraft -- one of several offshoots of the original Northrup F-5s that went into service in the early 1960s -- is used to simulate adversary aircraft in training.
Trice Denny/U.S Navy
A AV-8B Harrier lands on board the USS Nassau on April 14, 1999, after a strike mission into Kosovo. The AV-8B Harrier is a single-engine ground-attack aircraft capable of vertical or short takeoff and landing. Though production of the aircraft ceased in 2003, the U.S. Marine Corps is looking at systems enhancements and plans to continue using Harriers well into the next decade.