In its new study ‘The Market for Fighter Aircraft’, Forecast International projects that a total of 3,243 fighter aircraft will be produced from 2018 through 2027.

The value of this production is estimated at $249.3 billion say the analysts.

“The total number of fighters to be produced over the next decade is 13.1 percent (377 units) higher than the number of aircraft produced during the previous 10 years, when production in the fighter market averaged about 280 aircraft per year.

Production during the 2018-2027 forecast period will peak at 380 aircraft in 2021. Annual production will then decline through 2027, with production falling to 269 aircraft that year.”

The Lockheed Martin F-35 will be the largest fighter programme over the next decade, due primarily to its selection as the tactical fighter of choice for the US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps as well as the United Kingdom and other nations. Indeed, of the 3,243 fighters expected to roll off the production lines during the next 10 years, 1,466 will be F-35s, representing more than 45 percent of the market.

The outlook for the remaining US fighters — the Boeing F-15 and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin’s own F-16 — was once grim but has improved in recent years. While many of the US government’s allies — traditionally the best customers for US fighters — will likely buy the F-35, uncertainty over the aircraft’s capabilities and the high cost of early production aircraft are leading other countries to consider legacy US aircraft.

“One key market for legacy aircraft from the US and Europe is the Middle East,” said Forecast International Senior Aerospace Analyst Douglas Royce.

“Orders from energy-rich customers in the region are helping to extend production lines at Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Dassault and the Eurofighter consortium.”

European manufacturers will account for 11.6 percent of fighter production during the forecast period. This includes the Eurofighter Typhoon (95 units), Dassault Rafale (158) and Saab Gripen (125). Meanwhile, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) will continue to provide fighters to nations outside the U.S. and European defense spheres.

China is a potential competitor in this submarket, but has yet to fully develop a solid export program for its most advanced fighters note the analysts.

Forecast International is a provider of Market Intelligence and Consulting in the areas of aerospace, defence, power systems and military electronics. Based in the United States, the company says it specialises in long-range industry forecasts and market assessments.


  1. I wonder is there is any opportunity to modify the Typhoon to create a European equivalent of the SU-57.

    I don’t think a new 6th generation aircraft will arrive in time to capitalise on this market but a good 5th gen+ perhaps could?

    Perhaps the Turkish TF-X programme is something we should watch more closely as offering a potential framework on which to build a UK centric system?

  2. F35 will dominate the fighter market.

    Once the Arab nations are allowed to purchase the F35 you can add another 500 orders to the 3200 already ordered, plus an Indian order of 200 plus.

    Just as well we the UK build 15% of F35.

    • Can you see the USA letting middle East countries access the technology?

      In terms of Uk though, is there any reason not to phase out thypoon in the 2030s with additional f35 buys?

      • Yes

        The F35 is primarily a ground attack aircraft. It is not an out and out Interceptor such as the Typhoon. The time to height times for the Typhoon are better than the original English Electric Lightning, which was pretty phenomenal by even today’s standards. The F35 couldn’t match these times as it has lower power to weight ratio.
        The two aircraft were designed for completely different methods of fighting. The Typhoon was designed as an area dominance fighter, consisting of a large combat radius, large weapon load of AAM and sustained supersonic manoeuvring. The F35 was designed to counter enemy GBAD and strike high priority targets, therefor its shape has been governed by minimising its RCS and IR footprint which to some extent hinders its aerodynamics.
        BAES are heavily involved in the design of Turkey’s TFX which has been designed to be primarily an air defence fighter with secondary ground attack. It’s an interesting design with both F22 and SU57 influences. Eurojet are bidding to supply the engine with an enhanced EJ200.

        • I understand the US and Israel have some agreement that the US will not supply advanced technology weapon systems to Arab nations until Israel has had the opportunity to test and use the systems.

          In effect this means Israel will have F35 in service for 10 years before the Arab nations can get them.

          Even then the Arab countries may get a less capable variant, as was the case for the F15.

        • Isn’t it more to do with tactics though. F35 has air to air capability, relying on stealth and sensors to deliver, rather than pace and agility.

          • You’re right Anthony. Especially with Meteor, stealth and advanced sensor fusion/networking agility becomes less of an imperative.

        • Don’t bank on the Anglo Turkish design going anywhere, Turkeys Russian pivot might well pull the plug on that project.

          The way they are going they will be kicking out of NATO and the Turkish Greek boundary might become the “new” inter German border of the last cold war.

    • They’ve not even let the Japanese have all the F35 tech and are withholding export licenses for some components and they are one of the production partners! That’s why the Japanese are now looking at an interim aircraft and to develop their own long term solution without US involvement possibly in partnership with the UK. Congress is also blocking the export of the F35 to Turkey a NATO member, breaking their deal for 100 after lobbying by Israel.

      The UK government is supposedly again looking at reducing their F35 order and getting more Eurofighters instead, cheaper to buy and operate (don’t believe the F35 list price as that requires countries to buy in to the development costs and US military orders are tax exempt while their exports arent) The RAF is considering an operating strategy where the F35 would be a scout relaying targets in enemy territory but leaving their actual destruction to a second wave of Typhoons launching standoff weapons from hundreds of miles away. A Tranche 4 spec of Eurofighter which Germany is considering funding alongside boosts in the engine performance from incremental development work carried out by Rolls would also offer the chance to extend its capabilities even further.

      As to the FX yeah probably a dead end with Turkey out to gain the tech but not capable of producing a viable end product a lot like the Indian fighter and Submarine development programmes. With BAE designing the airframe to the same combat role specification as the Typhoon and F22 and Rolls contracted to produce an engine based on the Typhoons EJ-200 its a locally manufactured export version of the Typhoon in all but name and the Turks funding the development work will benefit both companies R&D.

  3. We should be looking to build a healthy uk based industry. Buy the Typhoon design outright and modify to create a fully updated version, including catobar. Increased power, speed and economy, improved stealth, thrust vectoring and an F35 cockpit. Nothing revolutionary, just exceptional using the best already available saving a large chunk of development cost. Develop Taranis ourselves and create a family of Ucavs. Design Typhoon 2 to operate with a group of air superiority or bomber variants, then look at designing a vertical take off variant for the carriers, an awacs style and an refuelling version over time. If we don’t, we will just be looking at buying French or American and watching them make all the money.
    If I’m wrong and it’s really too much for us to do, focus on niche, let France develop Neuron, and we focus on a vertical takeoff version we can use on our carriers only. I’m sure there would still be other buyers such as the Japanese who are getting F35 from their destroyers.

  4. An F35 managing 2-4 Taranis/Magma’s in a battlespace is something the UK should be pursuing both operationally and industrially.

    We can really do this, after all we have got Taranis up and running, only to go into bed with the French again (not a good idea).

    This is an area overlooked by the US I believe , but a combat fleet of 128 F35’s (8 Sqdns of 16) managing a fleet of 256 Taranis would allow us to get scale and refinement of equipment and leverage off the brains of the F35. It also allows us to mitigate some of the limitations of the B model which can hold in a standoff position whilst directing the Taranis’ onto their targets.

    Cost wise we should be looking at something in the region of £20-40m per unit and for once we should commit to a large order to bring that price into the lower level of this envelope at which point I think we have an exportable product.

    As for Typhoon, great aircraft that can be updated further and we should commit to an operational fleet of 128 of these as well

    64 F35 assigned to Carriers
    64 to land force
    256 Taranis assigned to bomber command (although reconn and fuelling may be possible)

    128 Typhoon (minimum of 64 for UK QRA).

    All of a sudden this starts to look like a proper combat force again – as opposed to the hollowed out force we currently have. We certainly dont seem able to get to the required numbers any other way.

  5. I’ll say it again Tyohoon 2 would be a mistake much like the gloster galdiator. The next fixed wing aircrafts we embark on after the typhoon will be serving in the 22nd century.

    Much better to build on the success of Taranis with a UK program and possibly bring in some big buyers like Turkey and Saudi or some disillusioned European countries like the Polish and 5 eye partners like Australia.

    There are lots of big potential partners to work with these days all disillusioned with US or Pan European projects.

    Let the Germans and French cluster f**k go ahead and atleast this time they can both only screw up each other’s programs.

    A British Taranis available in mid 2030’s might have very little competition.

  6. Got to agree with Martin if we can get a deep penetration stealthy strike drone in operation by 2030 and then actually build enough to capitalise on this new capability then we will be going places.
    Our armed forces are rife with nearly hads and could have been scenarios
    Type 45 destroyer…nearly the best destroyer in the world. Just needed to have mk41 vl missile silos fitted.
    Type 26 frigates almost regained RN fighting power until the order was cut to just 8 ships.
    Typhoon developed now into the most capable multirole fighter in the world. Just need more of them.
    Astute class attack submarine is the best attack submarine in the world and yet numbers were reduced from 9 to just 7.
    I am hopeful we can start capitalising on our advantages with a new apparently competent defence secretary …we shall see.

  7. Apologies to whoever correctly stated (long ago post that I cant remember) that the F35b will not/does not need to contribute to the QRA duties of UK Airspace,but once they have settled in nicely at RAF Marham I can envisage a photo opportunity where a visit from one of our Russian friends Blackjacks/Bears etc will be made with Typhoon off one wing and F35 off the other,maybe time will tell.


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