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

MILITARY

John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: youtube

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

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.

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McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle

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

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.

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P-3 Orion

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.

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F-35 Lightning II

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

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

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.

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Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

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.

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Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor

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.

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Rockwell B-1B Lancer strategic bomber

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.

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AH-64 Apache helicopter

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.

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Boeing B-52H Stratofortress

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.

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Bell AH-1Z Viper

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.

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Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack bomber

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

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.

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Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire medium-range bomber

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.

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F/A-18 Hornet

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.

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Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit bomber

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

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

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.

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H-6K long-range strategic bombers

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

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.

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Dassault Mirage 2000D/N ground attack aircraft

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.

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Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot

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.

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C-130 Hercules transport aircraft

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.

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XAC JH-7 interceptor

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.

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SEPECAT Jaguar

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

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F-117 Nighthawk

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.

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C-17 Globemaster III heavy transport

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.

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Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

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.

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