Here’s what it’s like to experience a 280 deg/s instantaneous roll rate in a modern jet trainer

Modern jets feature an impressive instantaneous roll rate

The roll rate, expressed in degrees per second, is the rate at which an aircraft can change its roll attitude. Modern jet fighters can achieve quite high maximum roll rates: the faster they can rotate around longitudinal axis the faster they can transit from one maneuver to another one.

However, the roll rate is just one of the parameters (not all equally important) that influence the aircraft’s maneuvering performance.

Although the roll rate depends on the configuration, weight, speed, altitude and the fact the rate is measured from stable flight (instantaneous roll rate) or after the rotation has been given some time to build up (i.e. the aircraft keeps on rolling long enough), the maximum roll rates for some of the most famous combat planes can be either found on vendors datasheets or online (hence, take them with a grain of salt): according to most reports a Rafale features a maximum roll rate of 270 deg/s, the Eurofighter Typhoon is able of around 250 deg/s, the F/A-18E Super Hornet has a maximum roll rate of 120 deg/s whereas the F-16 can roll at 240 deg/s.

Accurate or not (sometimes such performance data are PR-influenced…), the maximum roll rate may data gives a hint of the ability of the modern aircraft to rotate around the longitudinal axis.

As already reported, a few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to take part in a mission aboard the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 of the Italian Air Force, one of the most advanced jet trainers currently available.

During the flight, the pilot (Maj. Alessandro Olivares, Commander of the 212° Gruppo) showed me the stunning roll performance of the new aircraft (believed to be able of a 280 deg/s roll rate): he performed an aileron roll, an aerobatic maneuver in which an aircraft does a full 360° revolution around its roll axis.

Here below you can see the video of the maneuver.

The aircraft was extremely responsive, immediately achieved a high angular acceleration and rolled so fast, my head almost hit the canopy.

The roll rate of the T-346A (the designation of the Master within the Italian Air Force) may have been 280 deg/s or not; for sure, it was impressive to me, and similar enough to that of the 4th and 5th generation fighter jets to the student pilots of the LIFT (Lead-In to Fighter Training) course on the M-346 destined to fly F-35 or Eurofighter Typhoon multi-role jets.


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. The way this artice is written, the writer seems to be astounded at the ability of this advanced fighter to have a roll rate of 280°/s. Probably because he is to young to know about previous military hardware, specifically the Vietnam era A-4 Skyhawk, which was used as the adversary aircraft in the movie Top Gun (think Viper and Jester). With a 720°/s roll rate, it far exceeds the roll rate capability of any of today’s modern fighters. Maybe it’s why the Navy still uses the A-4 as adversary aircraft to train today’s best fighter pilots.

    • Read it again.
      As clearly stated, no plane can, from stable flight, achieve an instantaneous roll rate past 270-280 dps.
      If you keep on rolling and let the plane increase its angular speed and momentum, it can reach higher “sustained” roll rates. But that’s another story.

      • Actually, a few piston aerobatic aircraft have higher instantaneous roll rates than that.
        And higher roll rates than many fighters as well.

        • Yes, but a piston aerobatic aircraft is much lighter than a light combat plane. You simply can’t compare it with a modern jet.

          • The A-4 had a 720 degree roll rate. It’s well documented, just do a quick google search.

  2. Becouse it isn’t derived from the yak 130 itself… The yak-130 and the m346 derived from the same prototype built by the joint venture of aermacchi and Yakovlev in the early 90.. Then they choose diferent ways…

  3. Whom?
    I wish it were sponsored by someone. I assume my readers are smart enough to understand that if you are invited to fly in a plane you and you are shown tons of interesting stuff, most of which previously unseen, you tend to publish them all. It would have been the same if I were invited to fly an F-16 Block 60 or a Dassault Rafale I would publish the same amount of articles.
    BTW, this is not a forum.

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