Military

The Modern Fighter Jets That Can Carry the Biggest Payload

Oman+F-16 | Royal Air Force (RAF) Panavia "Tornado GR4s"
my_public_domain_photos / Flickr

Russian forces have employed a variety of aircraft in their ongoing campaign within Ukraine. Notably, fighter jets have played key roles in conducting bombing raids throughout Ukrainian territory. The more payload that these jets can carry equates to the more damage they do, and this has been greatly improved since the advent of the modern fighter jet. (Exploring the fastest and most powerful fighter jets in existence.)

From the times of World War II, aircraft transitioned from propeller-driven fighters to jet-powered aircraft, capable of traveling great distances at even greater speeds. One of the biggest improvements over this time was the ability of these fighter jets to carry more bombs, missiles, or other drop ordnance. Here, 24/7 Wall St. is taking a closer look at fighter jets that can carry the most payload.

To determine the fighter jets that can carry the biggest payload, 24/7 Wall St. referenced Military Factory, an online database of military vehicles, aircraft, arms, and more. Aircraft were ranked by the maximum payload weight they can carry. Supplemental data regarding manufacturer, speed, and more also came from Military Factory.

The Su-57 Felon and J-20 Black Eagle rank fairly high in terms of the payload that each can carry. Notably, these are also both fifth-generation fighter jets that are outfitted with some of the best avionics and stealth technology in the world.

As technology continues to march forward, these fighter jets will only improve on their avionics and payload. (This is every modern fighter jet ranked from slowest to fastest.)

Here is a look at the fighter jets that carry the biggest payloads.

Why Are We Covering This?

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr

Understanding the fighter jets that can carry the biggest payload provides insight into global military capabilities and defense strategies. Also knowing these aircraft helps in threat assessment and the development of effective countermeasures.

42. MiG-23 (Flogger)

  • Maximum payload: 4,400 lbs
  • Type: Swing-wing fighter-interceptor aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1970
  • Manufacturer: Mikoyan-Gurevich
  • Top speed: 1,553 mph

41. MiG-21 (Fishbed)

Source: VanderWolf-Images / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Maximum payload: 4,400 lbs
  • Type: Single-seat supersonic fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1959
  • Manufacturer: Mikoyan-Gurevich
  • Top speed: 1,386 mph

40. F-22 Raptor

  • Maximum payload: 5,000 lbs
  • Type: Air dominance fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 2005
  • Manufacturer: Boeing / Lockheed Martin
  • Top speed: 1,599 mph

39. Mirage III

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Maximum payload: 8,800 lbs
  • Type: Interceptor aircraft / Strike fighter
  • Year introduced: 1961
  • Manufacturer: Dassault Aviation
  • Top speed: 1,312 mph

38. Sukhoi Su-17 / Su-20 / Su-22 (Fitter)

NATO Airfield | Two Polish Air Force Su-22 fighter-bombers at a NATO exercise.
Source: Timm Ziegenthaler/Stocktrek Images / Stocktrek Images via Getty Images
  • Maximum payload: 8,800 lbs
  • Type: Strike fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1970
  • Manufacturer: Sukhoi
  • Top speed: 718 mph

37. PAC JF-17 Thunder

Source: Public Domain via my_public_domain_photos / Flickr
  • Maximum payload: 8,800 lbs
  • Type: Lightweight multi-role fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 2007
  • Manufacturer: Pakistan Aeronautical Complex
  • Top speed: 1,218 mph

36. MiG-29 (Fulcrum)

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr
  • Maximum payload: 8,800 lbs
  • Type: Lightweight multi-role fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1984
  • Manufacturer: Mikoyan OKB / United Aircraft Corporation
  • Top speed: 1,519 mph

35. Shenyang J-8 / J-8 II (Finback)

Source: allenthepostman / Flickr
  • Maximum payload: 8,818 lbs
  • Type: Fighter-bomber aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1980
  • Manufacturer: Aviation Industry Corporation of China
  • Top speed: 1,453 mph

34. F-CK-1 (Ching-Kuo)

  • Maximum payload: 9,000 lbs
  • Type: Lightweight multirole fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1994
  • Manufacturer: Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation
  • Top speed: 1,379 mph

33. AV-8B Harrier II

Source: Robert Sullivan / Public Domain / Flickr
  • Maximum payload: 9,200 lbs
  • Type: Short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) strike aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1985
  • Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas / Boeing / BAe Systems
  • Top speed: 665 mph

32. Sukhoi Su-27 (Flanker)

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr
  • Maximum payload: 9,770 lbs
  • Type: Multi-role air superiority fighter
  • Year introduced: 1985
  • Manufacturer: Sukhoi OKB / United Aircraft Corporation
  • Top speed: 1,553 mph

31. HAL Tejas LCA

  • Maximum payload: 9,900 lbs
  • Type: Lightweight multirole fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 2015
  • Manufacturer: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited
  • Top speed: 1227 mph

30. JAS 39 Gripen (Griffin)

Slovakia+military+aircraft | JAS-39 Gripen Czechia
Source: slezo / Flickr
  • Maximum payload: 11,700 lbs
  • Type: Lightweight multi-role fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1997
  • Manufacturer: Saab AB
  • Top speed: 1,370 mph

29. Chengdu J-10 (Vicious Dragon)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Maximum payload: 12,345 lbs
  • Type: Fighter-bomber aircraft
  • Year introduced: 2005
  • Manufacturer: Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAIC) / Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)
  • Top speed: 1,452 mph

28. F/A-18 Hornet

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr
  • Maximum payload: 13,700 lbs
  • Type: Carrier-based strike fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1983
  • Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas / Boeing / Northrop
  • Top speed: 1,190 mph

27. Mirage F1

  • Maximum payload: 13,900 lbs
  • Type: Interceptor aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1973
  • Manufacturer: Dassault Aviation
  • Top speed: 1,453 mph

26. Mirage 2000 (M2000)

  • Maximum payload: 13,900 lbs
  • Type: Strike fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1979
  • Manufacturer: Dassault Aviation
  • Top speed: 1,453 mph

25. Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D)

  • Maximum payload: 14,300 lbs
  • Type: Carrier-based air defense fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1994
  • Manufacturer: Sukhoi OKB
  • Top speed: 1,553 mph

24. Shenyang J-15 (Flying Shark)

Source: 日本防衛省・統合幕僚監部 / Wikimedia Commons
  • Maximum payload: 14,330 lbs
  • Type: Carrier-based multi-role fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 2013
  • Manufacturer: Shenyang Aircraft Corporation / Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)
  • Top speed: 1,305 mph

23. MiG-35 (Fulcrum-F)

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr
  • Maximum payload: 14,330 lbs
  • Type: Multi-role fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 2020
  • Manufacturer: Russian Aircraft Corporation MIG
  • Top speed: 1,491 mph

22. Grumman F-14 Tomcat

Source: Willard / iStock via Getty Images
  • Maximum payload: 14,500 lbs
  • Type: Swing-wing, carrier-based fleet defense fighter
  • Year introduced: 1974
  • Manufacturer: Grumman Aircraft
  • Top speed: 1,544 mph

21. F-15 Eagle

Source: usairforce / Flickr
  • Maximum payload: 16,000 lbs
  • Type: Air superiority fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1976
  • Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas / Boeing
  • Top speed: 1,875 mph

20. KAI KF-16 Fighting Falcon

Source: Public Domain / Defense Visual Information Distribution Service
  • Maximum payload: 17,000 lbs
  • Type: Multi-role fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1991
  • Manufacturer: Korean Aerospace Industries
  • Top speed: 870 mph

19. F-16V (Viper)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Maximum payload: 17,000 lbs
  • Type: Multi-role fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 2017
  • Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin / Hellenic Aerospace Industry
  • Top speed: 917 mph

18. F-16 Fighting Falcon

  • Maximum payload: 17,000 lbs
  • Type: Lightweight multi-role fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1978
  • Manufacturer: General Dynamics / Lockheed Martin
  • Top speed: 1,317 mph

17. Sukhoi Su-35 (Flanker-E / Super Flanker)

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr
  • Maximum payload: 17,630 lbs
  • Type: Multi-role heavy combat fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 2014
  • Manufacturer: Sukhoi OKB
  • Top speed: 1,491 mph

16. Shenyang J-11 (Flanker B+)

  • Maximum payload: 17,636 lbs
  • Type: Multi-role air superiority fighter
  • Year introduced: 1998
  • Manufacturer: Shenyang Aircraft Corporation / Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)
  • Top speed: 1,553 mph

15. F/A-18 Super Hornet

Source: public domain / flickr
  • Maximum payload: 17,750 lbs
  • Type: Carrier-based strike fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1999
  • Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas / Boeing
  • Top speed: 1,187 mph

14. Mitsubishi F-2

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr
  • Maximum payload: 17,824 lbs
  • Type: Multi-role fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 2000
  • Manufacturer: Mitsubishi / Lockheed Martin
  • Top speed: 1,553 mph

13. F-35 Lightning II

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr
  • Maximum payload: 18,000 lbs
  • Type: Advanced multi-role strike fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 2016
  • Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin / Northrop Grumman / BAe Systems
  • Top speed: 1,199 mph

12. Sukhoi Su-30 (Flanker-C)

Source: scaliger / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Maximum payload: 18,000 lbs
  • Type: Twin-engine air superiority strike fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1996
  • Manufacturer: Sukhoi Design Bureau
  • Top speed: 1,317 mph

11. F-4 Phantom II

Source: VanderWolf-Images / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Maximum payload: 18,650 lbs
  • Type: Carrier-based strike fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1960
  • Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas
  • Top speed: 1,473 mph

10. Panavia Tornado ECR

  • Maximum payload: 19,800 lbs
  • Type: Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) Aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1990
  • Manufacturer: Panavia Aircraft GmbH / British Aviation Systems / MBB
  • Top speed: 1,491 mph

9. Panavia Tornado IDS

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr
  • Maximum payload: 19,800 lbs
  • Type: Low-level strike aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1979
  • Manufacturer: Panavia Aircraft GmbH / British Aviation Systems
  • Top speed: 1,491 mph

8. Eurofighter Typhoon (EF2000)

  • Maximum payload: 19,800 lbs
  • Type: Fighter-bomber aircraft
  • Year introduced: 2003
  • Manufacturer: BAe Systems / Eurofighter GmbH
  • Top speed: 1,550 mph

7. Xian JH-7 (Flounder) / FBC-1 (Flying Leopard)

Source: Alert5 / Wikimedia Commons
  • Maximum payload: 20,000 lbs
  • Type: Fighter-bomber aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1992
  • Manufacturer: Xian Aircraft Industry Corporation
  • Top speed: 1,118 mph

6. Mig-31 (Foxhound)

  • Maximum payload: 20,000 lbs
  • Type: Supersonic interceptor aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1979
  • Manufacturer: Mikoyan OKB / United Aircraft Corporation
  • Top speed: 1,864 mph

5. IAI Kfir (Lion Cub)

  • Maximum payload: 20,701 lbs
  • Type: Multi-role combat aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1976
  • Manufacturer: Israel Aircraft Industries
  • Top speed: 1,516 mph

4. Dassault Rafale

  • Maximum payload: 20,900 lbs
  • Type: Fighter-bomber aircraft
  • Year introduced: 2001
  • Manufacturer: Dassault Aviation
  • Top speed: 1,383 mph

3. Sukhoi Su-57 (Felon)

Source: Dmitry Potashkin / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Maximum payload: 22,046 lbs
  • Type: Multi-role stealth aircraft
  • Year introduced: 2019
  • Manufacturer: Sukhoi OKB / United Aircraft Corporation
  • Top speed: 1,616 mph

2. F-15E Strike Eagle

  • Maximum payload: 23,000 lbs
  • Type: Strike fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 1988
  • Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas / Boeing
  • Top speed: 1,653 mph

1. Chengdu J-20 (Black Eagle)

  • Maximum payload: 24,000 lbs
  • Type: Multi-role fighter aircraft
  • Year introduced: 2017
  • Manufacturer: Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAIC) / Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)
  • Top speed: 1,305 mph

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