What is the minimum length of a runway needed for fighter jets to land or take off?


Though it differs for each fighter, at an average, modern day fighters can take off in 600 meters & can land within 700–900 meters.

The take off distance increases upto double at 1100 meters if the fighter carries it’s typical to full payload, as it need more airspeed to generate the lift required to counter the extra weight being carried.

There is a slightly different physics in landing. When a 12–20 ton metal giant attempts landing, it is firstly decelerated by its air-brakes which are employed throughout the landing procedure. As the fighter touches down, it loses speed with the help of something called Brake Chute. During all these the brakes at the wheels are working too. They work at maximum effort, just below which they will get heated & wear out easily.

Bringing such a huge momentum to a complete stop is a challenge & hence the landing distances are longer than the take off distances. Few examples from Indian Air Force (pics below each mention):

  • Su-30MKI (empty): Take off distance: 550 meter. Landing distance: 670 meter.
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  • LCA Tejas (Maximum take off weight): Take off distance: 1,700 meter. Landing distance: 1,300 meters.
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  • Mirage 2000:
    • Clean configuration (flying without weapons): Take off distance: 500 meter. Landing distance: 610 meter.
    • Loaded: Take off distance: 800 meter.
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  • Rafale: Take off distance: 400 meters. Landing distance: 450 meters.
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  • MiG-29UPG: Take off distance: 260 meters (full afterburners), 700 meters (without afterburners). Landing distance: 750 meters.
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  • SEPECAT Jaguar:
    • Clean configuration: Take off distance: 490 meters. Landing distance: 300 meters.
    • Armed with typical mission loadout: Take off in 1,000 meters.
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  • BAe Hawk:
    • Clean configuration: Take off distance: 550 meters. Landing distance: 600 meters.
    • Fully Armed: Take off distance: 2,100 meters. Landing distance: 850 meters.
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I hope this answer helps you.

Edit: Many readers are saying at the comment section that Tejas has a very long take off/landing distance. This is the distance at its max takeoff weight (MTOW) which is higher than typical mission payload. It has nothing to do with Tejas’s “underpowered” engine (the thrust to weight ratio of Tejas is 1.07). Even the Su-30Mki, Mirage 2000 will have such distances.

I’ve personally witnessed Tejas flying within 600 meters straight at the sky multiple times. You can see it taking off at even 400 meters in this video:

Credits to the rightful Image owners.

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