Is Tejas or the JF 17 better

Top 10 - The largest air forces in the world

If you look at the international tension, it is not surprising that most of the largest fighter aircraft fleets are based in Asia. Iran is not represented in the list with around 160 combat aircraft, but perhaps the most interesting mix of fleets with aircraft from East and West and some in-house production.

Small surprise: In January 2019, there is no nation from Western Europe among the ten largest air powers in the world. Here, France has the greatest power with currently 271 fighter jets, of which 232 are in service with the Armée de l'Air and 41 with the Navy. At the European level, Germany (206 jets), Greece (187) and Italy (197) follow.

10th place: Japan

An F-15DJ Eagle of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force takes off from Nyutabaru. Photo and copyright: Patrick Hoeveler

297 fighter jets

The island nation continues to rely on effective air defense and is currently deploying 297 jets for this purpose. With more than 150 copies, the F-15J Eagle is the backbone of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. The pattern is currently being modernized. Scrap metal in the form of the McDonnell F-4EJ Phantom can still be found in the repertoire of the Japanese. At the moment there are still 72 F / RF-4EJ in the fleet, but they will be replaced by the F-35 in the next few years.

9th place: Saudi Arabia

With 72 Eurofighter Typhoon, the Royal Air Force of Saudi Arabia has become the largest export customer of this type worldwide. Photo and Copyright: RSAF

325 fighter jets

The Saudis are not only the largest Eurofighter export customer, but also the numerically strongest air power in the Gulf - and with a total of 325 fighter jets in their ranks, they make it into 9th place among the largest air powers worldwide. 72 Eurofighter Typhoon calls the air force of the strictly Islamic country their own. In addition, there are currently 81 Tornado IDS and 172 Boeing F-15s from the C, S and SA (Saudi Advanced) series, a variant specially modernized for the Saudi armed forces.

8th place: Egypt

Egypt was the first export customer for the Dassault Rafale. Of the total of 24 machines ordered, 17 were delivered in January 2019. Photo & Copyright: Dassault

341 fighter jets

Egypt's air force is the eighth largest in the world in terms of the number of combat aircraft. Among the aircraft used is a colorful hodgepodge of jets from western and eastern production. The MiG 21s, which were still in use until recently, have now been taken out of service, but with 11 MiG 29s and MiG 35s (30 more ordered) there is also a very modern representative from Russia in the fleet. The backbone of the Luftwaffe, however, is the F-16 with 168 units in service. There are also 75 Mirage 5, 15 Mirage 2000EM, 13 Alpha Jets and 17 Rafale from French production. Seven more Rafele are still on the order list. Quite exotic representatives are the Chinese Nanchang Q-5 (30) and the armed version of the agricultural aircraft AT-802 Air Tractor, of which Egypt purchased twelve copies to combat insurgency in 2016. The machines come from stocks in the United Arab Emirates.

7th place: Pakistan

The JF-17 made its western debut at Farnborough in 2010. Photo and Copyright: Patrick Hoeveler

438 fighter jets

More than a third of Pakistan's fighter fleet consists of variants of the Chinese MiG-21 copy F-7 (136). The Mirage III (69) and Mirage 5 (90) as well as the Lockheed F-16 (45) are also represented in large numbers. The number of JF-17 "Thunders" developed jointly with China is 98 and is still increasing. Soon this aircraft will represent the backbone of the air force and at least partially displace the older models.

6th place: South Korea

Boeing F-15K Slam Eagle at the Red Flag premiere in 2008. Photo and Copyright: Patrick Hoeveler

466 fighter jets

The Northrop F-5E is still the most frequently represented in the ranks of the South Korean Air Force with 158 units. In addition, the F-4E Phantom (71) flies in South Korea. But modernization has also started in this country and models like the F-15K Slam Eagle (59) can be found in the fleet. In addition, the South Koreans currently have 118 F-16Cs and 60 domestic-made KAI FA-50 light fighter aircraft. It is a derivative of the trainer T-50 Golden Eagle.

5th place: North Korea

A North Korean Mikoyan MiG-21 at takeoff. Photo and Copyright: KCNA

572 fighter jets

On paper, North Korea has the fifth largest fighter jet fleet in the world. How many of the machines are actually ready for use, however, is open. In addition, the fleet is largely out of date: the inventory mainly includes old-timers from Chinese and Soviet production. These include the Shenyang F-5 (106) and F-6 (97), Chengdu F-7 (120), Harbin H-5 (80), Mikojan MiG-21 (26) and MiG-23 (56) as well as Sukhoi Su-7 (18). The most modern aircraft in the fleet are 35 older MiG-29s and 34 Su-25s.

4th place: India

After a long development period, the Tejas fighter is now ready for use (Photo: Indian Air Force).

694 fighter jets

There is still a very large variety of types in the Indian Air Force. In no other country are patterns like Sepecat Jaguar (130), MiG-21 (134), MiG-27 (44), MiG-29 (66), Mirage 2000 (45) or Su-30 (229) next to each other. However, with the introduction of the Dassault Rafale and HAL Tejas, some patterns are likely to disappear. The local Tejas is already represented with ten copies in the inventory, 110 more are to be added in the future. The Indians have ordered 36 of the Rafale. In addition, in a few years up to 144 Sukhoi Su-57s could significantly increase the effectiveness of the Indian Air Force.

3rd place: Russia

Sukhoi Su-27 from Lipetsk on landing. Photo and copyright: Patrick Hoeveler

1591 fighter jets

The Russian Air Force has been going through a major modernization program for some time. In addition to new designs, modernized jets are also joining the fleet. In terms of numbers, the Sukhoi Su-27 with its derivatives Su-30 and Su-35 is most strongly represented. 408 aircraft of this type can be found in the ranks of the Luftwaffe. There are also another 42 in the Navy (Su-30 and Su-33). In addition, the Russians currently fly 277 MiG-29 (or MiG-35), 296 Su-24, 200 Su-25, 132 MiG-31, 111 Su-34, 67 Tu-22M, 42 Tu-95 and 16 Tu 160. The first Su-57s, of which the Air Force has ordered up to 60 pieces, should also be ready for use shortly.

2nd place: China

An improved prototype of the J-20 with the registration number 2011 took off for its maiden flight on March 1, 2014 in Chengdu (Photo: Internet China).

1624 fighter jets

In terms of the number of active combat aircraft, China overtook Russia in 2019. And the Chinese are also running extensive programs to modernize their armed forces. The Air Force has now put the first ten Chengdu J-20s into service. At the same time, the number of J-10s, also designed in China, is growing steadily and currently stands at 235. There are also 25 J-10s that fly for the Navy. For the time being, however, the most common type remains the J-7 based on the MiG-21 with 388 units (plus 30 for the Navy).
Other aircraft types in the ranks of the Chinese Air Force (Air Force and Navy combined): 391 Sukhoi Su-27/30/33/35 (or Shenyang J-11, J-15 and J-16), 150 Harbin H-6, 148 Nanchang Q-5, 143 Shenyang J-8, 104 Xian JH-7.

1st place: USA

The F-15E will probably fly with the US Air Force until 2035 (Photo: USAF).

2826 fighter jets

Unsurprisingly, and yet impressive when you look at the bare numbers: The USA maintained its top position as the largest air power in the world in 2019 as well. And undisputed - with 2,826 fighter jets they have almost as many as Russia and China put together. The US Navy alone with its 530 jets would have come in 6th place. Even if some models are going out of service in the USA, the introduction of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (currently 81 in all branches of the armed forces) ensures a supply. In addition, the US Air Force currently has a whopping 790 F-16C, 432 F-15C and E, 287 Fairchild A-10C, 178 F-22, 74 B-52H, 59 B-1B, 30 Lockheed-Martin AC-130 and 19 B-2. The US Marine Corps still has 104 Harrier AV-8B + and 249 F / A-18C and D. The US Navy's standard aircraft is the F / A-18E and F with 379 units. There are also 149 F / A-18Cs in the list.