The 10 Most Popular Fighter Jets in the World

Earlier this month, we presented a side-by-side (by side) comparison of some of the cheapest -- and most expensive -- combat aircraft in the world.

Topping the list was Lockheed Martin's  (NYSE: LMT  )  F-22 Raptor, which cost $412 million a pop to build, followed by Lockheed's other stealth fighter jet, the F-35 Lightning II (a relative steal at just $154 million per plane), and Boeing's  (NYSE: BA  )  bargain of the week, the $100 million F-15K Slam Eagle (a bargain that, unfortunately for Boeing, South Korea just passed on).

But prices drop steeply from there:

  • $44 million for Russia's Sukhoi F-35 Flanker.
  • $36 million for the Russian Su-34 Fullback.
  • A mere $25 million for the Chinese Chengdu JF-17 Thunder.

Would you care to guess which of these planes is the most popular among military buyers around the world? The result may surprise you.

Take a click-tour of the world's most popular fighter jets in the slideshow below.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2013, at 6:54 PM, joecool122344 wrote:

    So where's the article? What slide show? Why is motley fool even writing about the popularity of fighter jets.

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2013, at 7:21 PM, toyotabob7 wrote:

    So we have been at war for over 10 years and the most popular jets are the F22 and the F35. Really??? Neither has been flown in a single combat mission......If I was pinned down by the enemy My most favorite jet would be the 40yo A10 Warthog coming over the hill with its 30mm cannon firing 70 rounds per second.....

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2013, at 8:19 PM, prginww wrote:

    Indonesia set a new tone in the jet fighter market few years back, when they bought Sukhois for cocoa beans. Have you seen the price of cocoa after the recent African wars?

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2013, at 8:39 PM, ArxFerrum wrote:

    The F-14 Tomcat was the most advanced fighter prior to the F-22 Raptor.

    The F-14 Tomcat was retired because of fear that Iran could use a limited number of this craft against the US or Israel. Parts became illegal to even mention in the open.

    The F-35 Lightening-2 is about the biggest flying joke since the P-39 Aerocobra at the outbreak of WW2.

    The F-22 is the most advanced fighter in the world but because congress allowed the production line to be shut down, we couldn't get a new one in less than four years now.

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2013, at 9:03 PM, phenom79 wrote:

    Even though I loved the Tomcat, it was not the most advanced fighter prior to the F-22. Also it was not retired due to fear of Iran using the limited number of airframes they had in their possesion against the US or Israel. They only had around 20 aircraft in various states of condition but most unflyable due to lack of spare parts after trade embargo's. The venerable F-14 was retired due to rising maintainance and operating costs being replaced by the single seat multi capable F/A-18 Super Hornet.

    On second note, the P-39 Aircobra was't a joke either. As the Russians made great use of it as a ground attack aircraft through the lend lease program.

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2013, at 9:36 PM, phenom79 wrote:

    get some facts straight

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2013, at 9:50 PM, entitled wrote:

    Well, I guess I'll need to come to my own conclusions given there's no slide show link......

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2013, at 11:29 PM, rotorhead1871 wrote:

    the F15 is the overall winner....never defeated in 30 plus years of combat service.....still in production......100M a copy

    the F22 and F35 will never come close...

  • Report this Comment On October 20, 2013, at 12:03 AM, gaeroE3 wrote:

    the slideshow is, well, over the top richard, thnx.

    browsing the other comments > they have no idea the actual cost of developing, maintaining and deploying an ice fueled stealth fighter > ? a complete lack of o2 to critcal organ 1 on there part.

  • Report this Comment On October 20, 2013, at 12:36 AM, byzantine42 wrote:

    i agree with rotorhead's comment about F-15 and to add see this video of an Israeli pilot landing an F-15 with his entire right wing missing! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LveSc8Lp0ZE

  • Report this Comment On October 20, 2013, at 3:22 AM, savage393 wrote:

    Toyotabob: I'm with you, you can't do close air support at mach 2. I don't know why the Marines want the F-35 at all. Give me a Warthog. Stick and rudder, a flying Gatling gun, and tough as nails.

  • Report this Comment On October 20, 2013, at 3:49 AM, VikingBear wrote:

    P-39 Airacobra, called Sturmovik (sp?) by our then allies the Soviets, was a superb anti-tank weapon, greatly appreciated by the men and women who flew the nuts and bolts out of them. Its sortie availability was high--fuel and munitions, and wipe the blood off the window, please--and the reasons for its provision to the Soviets were more logistical and political.

    The biggest complaint was the door handle, which had an affinity for snagging parachute straps during bailout. Its best feature was its 37mm cannon, colinear with the propeller. It was also pretty tough, like its linear descendants the P-47 and A-10.

  • Report this Comment On October 20, 2013, at 4:19 AM, paohii wrote:

    As great as the F-15 is, it is a 3rd generation fighter as are most of the world's fighters. Though they have some parts now replaced with carbon fiber, they are still easy to see on radar.

    The F-22 and F-35 are 5th generation. Very advanced (and expensive) radar avoidance, weapons systems and many other features. Some of the newest Russian and Chinese fighters claim to be 5th generation. Yet to be (excuse the pun) seen. Tested in actual battle, no. However, tested in many top gun type training sessions, many times, no losses.

  • Report this Comment On October 20, 2013, at 7:51 AM, MikeMcAllister wrote:

    Strange article, making one of the most complex buying decisions sound like buying a car. And no mention of the Typhoon, Rafael, or Gripen, or F18, F18E/F. And there are many different versions of Sukhois and F15s, F16s. And what does "popular" mean? A Pilatus light attack aircraft might be extremely popular and appropriate for a south american country, while a country like Japan would love an F22 (they wont get it tho).

    As for what *should* be popular, I have to totally agree about the A-10. Unfortunately its not high and fast enough to be sexy for the USAF. I say give it to the army, they know its value.

  • Report this Comment On October 20, 2013, at 8:05 AM, MikeMcAllister wrote:

    The F14 was of the same class of aircraft as F15, but more unreliable and higher maintenance costs. Probably partly because it was seaborne and also had swing wings. That was why they phased it out and replaced with F18E/F.

    The F35 is not a joke. The contractual procedures the govt uses to build airplanes is a joke. Lots of red tape and extra expense, in an attempt to keep costs down, which only go up anyway, because the builder has the govt over a barrel. When they have a real chance to force continuing direct future competition (a force we know works), like with two engine types for the F35, they get rid of it to make the short term books look better.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 11:42 PM, covemaster wrote:

    To writer Rich Smith, the latest Flanker is the SU-35, not the F-35. For all its goodness, the A-10 is not a fighter jet, so cannot be included in this list. The Russian Sturmovik (Ilyushin Il-2) was not a P-39 copy, but was produced in greater numbers than any other military aircraft in history (36,183). The F-15 is 4th generation, not 3rd. And, finally, a gun firing through a propeller hub (P-39) is better described as "coaxial" rather than "colinear".

    So much mis-information here.

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