The US became the first country to field a 5th-generation fighter when the F-22 Raptor first flew in 2005.
Since then, China and Russia have introduced their own 5th-generation jets, and the US has fielded another one, the F-35.
Here’s what sets this latest generation of fighters from the generations before them.
In 2005, the United States became the first nation on earth to field an operational 5th-generation fighter in the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.
When you look at the F-22 compared to its 4th-generation predecessors, the aircraft clearly stands out … but what exactly made it the first of a new generation, rather than a more advanced approach to the existing generation of fighters?
Generational designations often (or at least used to) come from within the aviation community itself. Each generation comes with a somewhat subjective list of capabilities that may have existed in some particular aircraft before, but become requirements across the board for fighters of the next generation.