Do You Know the Effective Combat Radius of This Military Aircraft?

By: John Miller

Do You Know the Effective Combat Radius of This Military Aircraft?
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About This Quiz

It doesn’t matter whether you call it “combat radius” or “radius of action,” when it comes to military aircraft, these terms simply refer to a vehicle’s ability to complete a mission and then return to base … without refueling. It’s a critical specification that alters warfare in countless ways.

In short – the combat radius of a B-52 Stratofortress is a whole lot different than that of an F-35A Lightning II. Generals, pilots and ground crews must all understand the limitations of each craft’s strike range in order to create a successful battle plan that wins air superiority. Do you get the feeling that combat radius is a critical element for aircraft designers?

Combat radius clearly varies depending on the style of aircraft and its ultimate mission. Long-range bombers obviously need a lot of range (and cargo capacity) to complete their objectives. Short-range ground attack planes, on the other hand, just need to engage a nearby battlefield a few times before returning to base for more munitions.

By now, you probably realize that combat radius is a primary concern during the blueprint phase of aircraft construction. A plane that lacks proper range for its tasks may fail miserably during war … and just as bad, may never even make it into production.

Although you’ll probably never fly a warplane (or design one, either) combat radius shapes the wars we fight. Strap yourself into the cockpit and see if you know the effective attack radius of these famous planes!

A-10 Thunderbolt II
300 miles
The A-10 Thunderbolt II, or "Warthog," is a heavily-armed warplane meant to blast enemy armored vehicles. When it is really loaded down with munitions, its combat range is less than 300 miles.
3,400 miles
5,210 miles

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McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
About 90 miles
About 200 miles
About 1,200 miles
Designed in the late '60s, the F-15 is one of America's most famous fighter planes. When it is scrambled to intercept another plane, it has a combat radius of about 1,200 miles.

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Eurofighter Typhoon
370 miles
860 miles
Since 2001, the Eurofighter Typhoon has provided defense for European militaries. It can carry its guns, bombs and missiles in an attack radius of around 860 miles.
2,200 miles

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P-3 Orion
560 miles
1,550 miles
Since the '60s, the P-3 Orion has been a stalwart surveillance and anti-sub plane. With its four-engine turboprop configuration, it has a solid range of about 1,500 miles.
6,700 miles

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F-35 Lightning II
5,200 miles
2,300 miles
770 miles
At hundreds of billions of dollars, the F-35 is one of the costliest weapons projects in the history of the world. It's a stealth fighter that's meant to address a wide range of targets, and its combat range is about 770 miles.

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Dassault Rafale multi-role fighter
2,670 miles
1,400 miles
650 miles
The French are depending on the Dassault Rafale to be the backbone of its air force for many years. Active since 2001, this multi-role fighter has a range of about 650 miles.

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Lockheed AC-130
200 miles
560 miles
The Lockheed AC-130 is an incredibly powerful ground attack aircraft that looks something like a futuristic WWII-era bomber. These huge planes can carry tons of weapons, which limits their combat radius to about 560 miles.
2,100 miles

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Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
530 miles
The F-22 was an expensive project -- it cost tens of billions of dollars to design. But this stealth fighter is an incredible weapon with a range of more than 500 miles.
1,400 miles
98 miles

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Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor
180 miles
450 miles
Russia uses many of the Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound for its air force. It has advanced radar capabilities for tracking multiple targets, and its range is roughly 450 miles during combat.
1,500 miles

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Rockwell B-1B Lancer strategic bomber
7,500 miles
The Rockwell B-1B Lancer is a long-range strategic bomber that entered service in the mid-'80s. It has a range of more than 7,500 miles, all the better to deploy huge bombs nearly anywhere on Earth.
22,800 miles
800 miles

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AH-64 Apache helicopter
300 miles
This being an armored attack helicopter, you probably guessed that its range isn't in the same category as say, a fighter. When it's loaded, the Apache has an attack range of about 300 miles.
1,300 miles
980 miles

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Boeing B-52H Stratofortress
4,500 miles
The B-52H is a variant of the legendary B-52 family, a long-range strategic bomber born out of Cold War necessities. It can carry an entire arsenal onboard, with a combat radius of approximately 4,500 miles.
19,000 miles
32,300 miles

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Bell AH-1Z Viper
140 miles
The Marines love the Bell AH-1Z Viper, a twin-engine attack helicopter that's part of the famous Huey family of helicopters. It's a beast of a vehicle and meant for only short missions -- it has a range of about 140 miles.
870 miles
1,210 miles

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Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack bomber
920 miles
1,100 miles
7,600 miles
Russia's Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack is a long-range strategic bomber with a range of more than 7,000 miles, ensuring that no place on the planet is truly safe from destruction.

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F-16 Fighting Falcon
350 miles
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a supersonic fighter that's often called the "Viper." Produced since the late '70s, it can blast to more than 1,300 mph and has a range of roughly 350 miles.
1,900 miles
2,400 miles

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Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire medium-range bomber
340 miles
1,150 miles
The Russian Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire has a combat radius of just over 1,100 miles, making it an effective medium-range bomber. It's an older model that entered service in 1978.
760 miles

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F/A-18 Hornet
210 miles
460 miles
With its top speed of Mach 1.8 and a range of approximately 460 miles, the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is a jet that's carrier-capable and meant to work as both a ground attack vehicle and fighter.
799 miles

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Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit bomber
99 miles
990 miles
6,900 miles
This "batwing" bomber is one of the world's most easily identifiable planes. It's meant to fly for more than a day, if necessary, and it can cover around 6,900 miles.

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UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter
1,400 miles
810 miles
370 miles
With its roughly 370-mile combat range, the famous Black Hawk helicopter can ferry both men and weapons into battle. It's been in action since 1979.

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Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker
1,500 miles
For more than half a century, the KC-135 Stratotanker has been a critical refueling plane. It's a big plane with a 130-foot wingspan, and its range is about 1,500 miles.
15,000 miles
25,000 miles

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H-6K long-range strategic bombers
275 miles
775 miles
2,175 miles
China's warplanes, like the H-6K, are quickly catching up to U.S. capabilities. This long-range bomber has an attack radius of nearly 2,200 miles.

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F-15E Strike Eagle
800 miles
The F-15E Strike Eagle is a multirole version of the F-15. When weighted down with munitions, it has a combat range of just under 800 miles.
200 miles
4,300 miles

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Dassault Mirage 2000D/N ground attack aircraft
575 miles
In 1993, France first deployed its Dassault Mirage 2000D/N, which is meant to deliver a tactical nuclear strike. With its range of roughly 575 miles, though, this aircraft isn't intended to travel long ranges.
969 miles
1,700 miles

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Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot
80 miles
250 miles
The ground attack plane Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot isn't designed for long trips. It's meant to blow up ground forces within its 250-mile attack radius.
860 miles

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C-130 Hercules transport aircraft
990 miles
2,360 miles
The C-130 is the best-known military transport aircraft, an enormous plane meant to ferry other craft (or men) into battle. Fully loaded, it has a range of about 2,360 miles.
7,500 miles

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XAC JH-7 interceptor
1,000 miles
China's XAC JH-7 is both an interceptor and a naval attack aircraft. It's a '90s-era plane with a combat range of around 1,000 miles.
2,000 miles
3,000 miles

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SEPECAT Jaguar
210 miles
530 miles
Introduced by Britain and France in the late '60s, the SEPECAT Jaguar worked as a nuclear strike and close air support craft. Now outdated for Western purposes, it has a range of around 530 miles
1,100 miles

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F-117 Nighthawk
530 miles
The distinctive F-117 Nighthawk is a stealth warplane with a combat radius of about 530 miles. It saw its first extensive action during the Gulf War.
990 miles
1,700 miles

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C-17 Globemaster III heavy transport
2,700 miles
Since 1993, the C-17 Globemaster III has ferried countless tons of gear and troops to war and training areas. As the name implies, it has a long range, of around 2,700 miles.
6,700 miles
12,700 miles

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Douglas A-4 Skyhawk
970 miles
Since the 1950s, the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk has been one of the world's most recognizable carrier-capable attack planes. America no longer uses the A-4, which has a combat radius of about 970 miles.
1,800 miles
240 miles

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You Got:
/30

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