Top 10 Most Popular Fighter Jets in the World

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Top 10 Most Popular Fighter Jets in the World Lockheed Martin’s F-16 is the world’s most popular fighter jet, Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Lockheed Martin F-16 Falcon The most popular fighter jet on the planet, Lockheed Martin’s F-16 boasts a 15% global market share – 2,281 planes total. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Data source: Flightglobal Insight World Air Forces 2014

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Boeing F-18 Hornet Boeing’s F-18 Hornet, in its many variations, runs a distant second: 1,008 units in service. That’s still 7% of the global fighter jet market. Photo : Wikimedia Commons

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Boeing F-15 Eagle Add the 865 Boeing F-15s in service around the globe, to its 1,008 F-18s, and... Lockheed’s F-16 would still be the world’s favorite. Photo : Wikimedia Commons

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Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum At a low, low price tag of just $29 million, Russia’s MiG-29 is gaining popularity. The 857 MiG-29s in service tie it with the F-15 at 6% global market share. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker Combine Russia’s Su-27 with updated variants the Su-30, -33, and -35, and together they make for the 5th most popular fighter plane on the planet – 5% market share, with 845 planes flying. Photo : Wikimedia Commons

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Mikoyan MiG-21 Fishbed Russia’s MiG-21s are not aging well. 95 have been taken out of circulation since last year, leaving just 698 in operation. That’s still a 5% market share. Photo : Wikimedia Commons

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Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot Sukhoi’s Su-25 is gaining in popularity, too. 20 new planes have been added to global fleets since 2013, lifting the “Frogfoot” to 507 planes globally – a 3% market share. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Northrop Grumman F-5 Tiger An oldie but a goodie, 492 old Northrop F-5 Tigers are still tooling around – 3% of all fighter jets in existence. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Chengdu F-7 Airguard Making its debut on the top 10 list this year is China’s F-7, a twin to Mikoyan’s MiG-21, and the export version of China’s J-7 fighter jet. 460 copies are in service, giving the F-7 a 3% market share globally. Photo : Wikimedia Commons

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Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer Bringing up the rear in 10th place is Russia’s Su-24 Fencer. It has 3% market share with 423 planes flying. That’s 50 fewer than last year. Photo : Wikimedia Commons

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In the fighter jet market, market share is crucial. It is hard to overstate its importance. The more planes a company builds, and sells, the broader the “base” over which it can spread research & development costs – and the lower the price it can charge per plane. And the lower the cost per plane... the easier it is to sell more of them, growing market share even further.

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Lockheed Martin has sold more than 4,500 F-16s! And more than half of them are still flying today. At an estimated cost of just $34 million, the F-16’s latest iteration, the “F-16V” can compete on price with the most advanced offerings from Russia and China. And even at this price, Lockheed Martin continues to earn 7% profit margins.

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7% net profit. That’s more than Boeing gets. And more than Textron, too. And now, Lockheed Martin is ramping up its biggest project yet.

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The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. Priced north of $100 million today, the F-35 costs three times as much as an F-16... ... but only a little more than an F-15 or F/A-18 from Boeing. And Lockheed expects to sell more than 3,000 F-35s over the next 60 years.

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As F-35 production ramps, prices will fall. Today, the F-35 accounts for about 20% of the revenues Lockheed Martin takes in. But as the program grows, the F-35 could ultimately account for 50% of Lockheed Martin’s business. So, if you were wondering why Lockheed Martin shares are up 55% over the past year, while Textron is up only 50%, and Boeing only 35%...

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Now you know.

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