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A day fighter is a fighter aircraft equipped only to fight during the day. More specifically, it refers to a multi-purpose aircraft that does not include equipment for fighting at night (such as radar), although it is sometimes used to refer to some interceptors as well.

Examples of planes that were classified as day fighters were the Supermarine Spitfire and Messerschmitt Bf 109. Both were excellent interceptors, but were also found in roles such as strike fighter and reconnaissance. However, neither was really able to be used as a useful night fighter, so the term day fighter was used to describe designs of this sort.

Today almost all fighter aircraft have enough equipment to be used as a night fighter, so the term has fallen from use. Lightweight fighters without full night equipment such as the F-5 Freedom Fighter/Tiger II and MiG-21 Fishbed are still used by nations which lack the money to acquire advanced fighter aircraft.

The last of the day fighters were the original F-16 and the YF-17 that competed for the Light Weight Fighter contract which had the goal of providing the USAF with an inexpensive day fighter that could be purchased in great numbers to establish air superiority. Ironically, after winning the contract the F-16 quickly matured into a much more capable multi-role aircraft and can no longer be considered a day fighter.

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