Fighter Aircraft named as fourth generation fighters are those in service from 1980–2010. Fourth generation designs are heavily influenced by lessons learned from the previous generation of combat aircraft.These fighters are the Representative of American fighters (F-14, F-15, F-16, and F/A-18) and the Soviet MiG-29 and Su-27. The growing costs and the demonstrated success of multi-role aircraft such as the F-4 Phantom making the multi-role fighters popular day by day. Long-range air-to-air missiles, originally thought to make dogfighting obsolete, proved less influential than expected; designers responded with a renewed emphasis on maneuverability.
The rapid advance of microcomputers permitted rapid upgrades to the aircraft technology over the lifetimes of these fighters, incorporating system upgrades such as AESA, digital avionics buses, and IRST. Because of the enhancement of capabilities in these upgraded fighters and in new designs of the 1990s that reflected these new capabilities, the designation 4.5th generation is sometimes used to refer to these later designs. It is intended to reflect a class of fighters that are evolutionary upgrades of the 4th generation to incorporate integrated avionics suite, advanced weapons, and elements of stealth technology .Though they are not same as stealth fighter.
An example of this generation is F/A-18E/F Super Hornet,an upgraded version of the 1970s Hornet design. While the basic aerodynamic features are approximately the same, the Super Hornet features improved avionics in the form of an all-glass cockpit, a solid-state AESA active phased array radar, new engines, the structural use of composite materials to reduce weight, a slightly modified shape to minimize its radar signature, and IRST.These fighters playing an important role in modern airforce of many developed countries.