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Distribution of 4th & 5th Generation Fighter Jets

http://www.martingrandjean.ch/data-visualization-jet-fighters/

There is a lot you can tell about a country simply based on what fighter jets it uses in its air force. Fourth generation fighters are a classification of advanced fighter jets spanning from the 1980’s to present day which maintain a variety of stealth, agility, and of course firepower. As you can guess, 5th generation fighters are only just beginning to come into the market and most are still in the final testing phases (Ex. Lockheed Martin F35). Since there are only a limited amount of countries that have the capital funding and technological background to produce such aircraft, we can extrapolate from the set of jet fighters to determine the relationship between countries.

jets

This graph displays the variety of aircraft around the world and maps the countries that produce them to the countries that purchase them. Specifically, the colored nodes represent the jet models whereas the the clear/white colored nodes model the countries that use these planes in their air force. Therefore, the edges connect the aircrafts to their purchasing countries.

A distribution of these fighter jets correlates directly with the notion of friend/enemy relationships as well as of structural balance. This graph seems very polarized into two dominant groups: USA and Russia+China. The countries that purchase jets from one of these groups are mutual friends and in turn there is a mutual antagonism between the groups of friends on the left and right hand side of the graph. In fact, this friend/enemy relationship models structural balance well and resembles a similar figure from our textbook.

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 11.07.17 PM

It is very interesting to see the friend/enemy relationships depicted in the graph correspond to the actual political and military alliances around the world today. Additionally some of the edges in the middle of the graph that connect to both the left and right side masses act as local bridges between them because removing them would require going at least 2 steps to get to a certain country. Of course, this graph is not not a perfect representation of structural balance and bridges since there are some unbalanced triangles. However, it is overall a bipartite graph and it does model relations between these countries well.

 

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