Aircraft enthusiasts enjoy learning everything there is to know when it comes to planes. This includes both Commercial Aircraft through to Combat Military Aircraft. Most of us only see military aircraft on news bulletins from places where war is raging in the world and cannot imagine what it is like to witness these aircraft screeching across the skies. Here we take a look at the big three when it comes to manufacturers who design and build combat aircraft in the world today.
Lockheed Martin is located in Maryland in the United States and is the largest defence contractor, including the production of military aircraft, in the world. The aeronautics division of the company deals in the design and production of combat and transport aircraft including
- The F-16 Fighting Falcon
- C-130 Hercules transport plane
- F-35 Lightening II or Joint Strike Fighter
- Merlin HM MK1 Helicopter
Lockheed Martin's main customer is the United States Department of Defence, while this major player in the production of combat aircraft employs over one hundred and twenty five thousand workers worldwide.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
This aircraft, made by Lockheed Martin, is the fifth generation stealth, multi role fighter featuring advanced technology plus is the worlds most advanced of its kind. The F-35 has been bought and ordered not only by the US Air Force but also by The UK's Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. Indeed the UK has collaborated in the F-35's production making this the most formidable of combat aircraft we see today.
Lockheed Martin also manufacture many other products including
- Arrowhead sight/pilot night vision sensor
- GETEMS or Ground Entry Test Evaluation and Monitoring System
- Hellfire II missiles
- INTAVAL tool for the assessment of the vulnerability of air targets
- Javelin anti-tank guided weapon system
- WECDIS or Warship Electronic Chart Display and Information System
Northrop Grumman Corporation
This company is located in Los Angeles in the US and is the second largest military contractor in the world today. Northrop builds aircraft carriers but is also widely recognised for producing the most expensive aircraft ever built, namely the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, while they also build the
- F-14 Tom Cat
- A-10 Thunderbolt II
Northrop is also engaged in producing electronic and information technology systems along with many types of weaponry that is used worldwide today.
The B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber
The B-2 is probably one of the most famous military aircraft in the world and is a main stay of the US capability when it comes to their long range strike arsenal. The B-2's stealth characteristics make it ideal for penetrating enemy defences as it combines long range, large payload and stealth all together in one unique aircraft.
The B-2 can fly a whopping six thousand nautical miles without needing to refuel plus ten thousand nautical miles with just one ariel refuel which is amazing! The B-2 is capable of carrying over twenty tons of nuclear and conventional weaponry, while it can deliver the weapons to their target whatever weather conditions are thrown at it.
Northrop Grumman is permanently upgrading this awesome stealth fighter ensuring that its capabilities continue to outdo any other aircraft. There are currently twenty B-2 aircraft serving in the US just now. Further military systems produced by this company include
- Manned weaponry
- Unmanned weaponry
- Aircraft Survivability
- Identification systems
- Air Traffic Control
- Electronic warfare
Boeing located in Chicago Illinois is the third largest military contractor in the world. Almost 40% of Boeings income comes from its military side of things including aircraft and missile systems. Boeing produces strike and surveillance aircraft along with mobility craft, unmanned systems and weapons.
Military aircraft manufactured by Boeing include
- AH-64A Apache Helicopter
- AH64D Apache Longbow
- EA-18G Growler Aircraft
- F/A -18E/F Super Hornet Fighter
- F-15E Strike Eagle Fighter
- F-15K Strike Fighter
Boeing also produces many weapons some of which you may be familiar with such as the Patriot Defence systems that were used during the Gulf Wars to stop airborne missiles in their tracks as they came toward their targets.
Looking at statistics involving aircraft manufactured by Boeing we can see that the F-15 family of fighters has a record of one hundred and one victories and no losses which is phenomenal!
F-15E Strike Eagle
This fighter is a fine example of what Boeing contributes to the military capabilities of countries during conflicts. It is a superior next generation multi role strike fighter that is one of the biggest players in the US Air Force.
The F-15E has an unmatched range and weapons load, while featuring advanced avionics systems that enable this awesome fighter to engage in air to air or air to ground combat at all kinds of altitudes, in all weathers plus during the day or night. The maximum speed of this fighter is greater than twice the speed of sound and features a digital threat warning system.
Countries that purchase military planes from Boeing include
The United States
It isn't that long ago that there were a large number of companies supplying military products including aircraft but many of these companies have consolidated over the years leaving the three major players we have just covered.
That’s not to say that these three have not attempted at one time or another to take over one another but all bids were unsuccessful. These three giants employ hundreds of thousands of people and hopefully will continue to do so well into the future.