Until World War II, European aviation was ahead of the US, both in aerodynamic layout and aviation proficiency.
The British Harrier is the world’s first vertical take-off and landing fighter. It demonstrated British innovation in fighter jets, with relatively good performance. This design, until today, has only been applied by the US on the F-35B fighter jet.
Marcel Dassault is the French aerospace capitalist, bringing many glory to the French aviation industry. The Mirage fighter family, with dazzling achievements in a number of Middle East wars. It had a dominant advantage over the Soviet MiG, and was particularly popular in Arab countries. Mirage has written an important page in the warfare history of mankind. Sweden, a remote land of Northern Europe, also has an excellent track record in developing fighter jets, the machines with excellent performance. The widely used Canard configuration later, was first used by Sweden on Saab’s J-37 fighter.
In the civil aviation sector, Europe’s Airbus is on par with America’s Boeing. But in the fighter jet, however, there was the undeniable fact that Europe was lagging behind the US and the Soviet Union. In the 1950s, Sweden was officially put into service J-29 Tunnan fighter. It was also Europe’s first swept-wing fighter. The J-29 was the same generation as the US F-86 Saber and the Soviet MiG-15. But it was not until 1957 that France had its first jet fighter.
In 1958, the second generation supersonic fighter, the US F-104 and MiG-21 of the Soviet Union entered service. Mach 2 Speed became the strict criterion for rating this generation. And British English Electric Lightning and Swedish J-35 Draken were the answers. However, two decades later, while the Soviet Union and the United States continued to release new fighter models, the UK only had the Lightning model. Since then, the British could not develop fighters independently.
In the competition of the third generation supersonic fighters, France’s Dassault was the hope of all of Europe. Mirage III was the European answer to the famous American F4 Phantom. They all entered the air force in 1961. Only in 1970, the Soviet MiG-23 entered service.
But by the 5th generation, the European race suddenly stopped. In 2005, the US 5th generation F-22 fighter officially entered service. In 2010, the Russian 5th generation T50 fighter jet had its first flight, and then entered mass production, with the official designation of the Su-57. However, there is no news yet about Europe’s fifth generation fighter. It seems that Europeans gave up on developing fifth-generation fighters. Of course, it is only a guess, and perhaps Europeans have their own choices.