Top 10 Fastest Aircraft in the World
Traveling in air has been one of the most exciting things to do in this world. It is also the fastest mode of travel in the world. Planes which are used to fly from one place to another can carry people to other continents, countries and across the oceans within hours. There was a time when such long distances were traveled in days and weeks via ships on water or road trip. With the advancement in technology, there are planes that take only minutes to reach their destination. In this article, we are going to highlight the top 10 fastest aircraft in the world. These airplanes achieve the highest level of speeds which no other vehicle can.
10. Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker
Konwicki Marcin / Shutterstock.com
Developed by the Soviet Union throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the twin-engine fighter jet is primarily used to ensure aerial superiority, including aerial warfare missions. Comparable to the F-15 Egle and the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, the Su-27 is a fourth-generation fighter jet with the capability to reach speeds of up to Mach 2.35 at its intended operating altitude, with a range of 3,530 km. Across its production run from 1982 right up until the current day, 680 units left the factory.
9. General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark
(U.S. Air Force photo)
Next on the top 10 fastest aircraft in the world list is the F-111. It was a multipurpose tactical fighter bomber capable of supersonic speeds. The aircraft was one of the more controversial aircraft ever to fly, yet it achieved one of the safest operational records of any aircraft in USAF history and became a highly effective all-weather interdiction aircraft. F-111 Aardvark is not a fighter but a tactical bomber capable of flying at mach 2.5. It had, before its retirement in 1998, 9 hardpoints and 2 weapon bays, together being able to deliver a payload of 14,300 kg of bombs, a nuclear bomb, air-to-air missiles or a 2000 round machine gun could be fitted. However due to the Aardvark’s role in air it was rarely fitted with the gun.
8. McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
The F-15E Strike Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather fighter that is the backbone for the Air Force’s air superiority. Its proven design is undefeated in air-to-air combat, with more than 100 aerial combat victories. The Eagle’s twin-engine and thrust-to-weight ratio of almost 1:1 can propel the 18,000 kg aircraft to more than 2.5 times the speed of sound. The F-15 has been claimed to be one of the most successful aircraft ever built and is still in service with the US Air Force.
7. Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound
With a top speed of Mach 2.83, the next plane on our top 10 fastest aircraft in the world list is the Mikoyan Gurevich-31 Foxhound. The Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound is a Russian-built interceptor aircraft—it's designed to go straight, very fast, in order to intercept and destroy invading planes—as a modernized replacement to the older MiG-25 Foxbat in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
6. XB-70 Valkyrie
The XB-70 Valkyrie was a unique aircraft with six engines which together could accelerate the 240,000 kilogram aircraft to a velocity of mach 3. This speed resulted in the frame of the aircraft being heated up to as much as 330°C on some areas. The extreme speed was needed for two reasons: 1: To accelerate away from Soviet interceptors and 2: To be able to escape the blast of the nuclear bombs that it was capable of dropping. The aircraft had its first flight in 1964 and is now retired, only two were built.
5. Bell X-2 Starbuster
The Bell X-2 was a rocket-powered, swept-wing research aircraft designed to investigate the structural effects of aerodynamic heating as well as stability and control effectiveness at high speeds and altitudes. The program was developed jointly in 1945 to explore aerodynamic problems of supersonic flight and to expand the speed and altitude regimes obtained with the earlier X-1 series of research aircraft. The Starbuster was a continuation of the X-2 program and so its area of investigation was to see how aircrafts behaved when flying at speeds higher than Mach 2.0. It did, as can be understood, not carry any weapons and featured a back-swept wing which made it have little air-resistance and was by that able to achieve the stunning speed of 3.196 Mach in 1956. However soon after this speed was attained the pilot, Milburn G. Apt, made a sharp turn and the aircraft tumbled out of control. He could not regain control of the aircraft and bailed out. Unfortunately, only the small parachute of the escape shuttle was opened and he hit the ground with too high speed. This fatal crash ended the Starbuster program, but Bell X-2 still is one of top 10 fastest aircraft in the world.
4. Mikoyan MiG-25 Foxbat
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 was a super fast interceptor and reconnaissance/bomber aircraft (its speeds are still not matched today!) designed by the Soviet Union's Mikoyan-Gurevich bureau. First flown as a prototype in 1964, it entered service in 1970. With a top speed of Mach 3.2(however the engines would blow up at that speed), powerful radar and four air-to-air missiles, the MiG-25 worried Western observers and prompted the development of the F-15 Eagle.
3. Lockheed YF-12
This jet was an American interceptor prototype with a top speed of Mach 3.35. It looked almost like the SR-71 Blackbird and featured three Air-to-Air missiles. The reason for it looking a lot like the SR-71 was because the SR-71 was based on the YF-12. Only 3 YF-12’s were built but the program still made it into the history books with its “highest speed”, “highest altitude” and “biggest interceptor” records.
2. Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
After its introduction in 1966, it has been used by both the USAF and NASA. 32 Blackbirds were built, all used for reconnaissance and experimental research. It featured stealth technology but if it was, against all odds, spotted by enemy forces, it could outrun the interceptors or surface-to-air missiles that were fired at it, due to its fantastic speed. The Blackbird was so fast that the air in front of it did not have time to escape, hence building up a huge pressure, and raised the temperature. The temperature of the aircraft, which could reach several hundred degrees high, expanded the metal, hence it had to be built by two small pieces. Because of this, the SR-71 actually leaked oil when standing still. The SR-71 was developed as a long-range strategic reconnaissance aircraft capable of flying at speeds over Mach 3.2 and at 85,000 feet.
1. North American X-15
North American X-15 is the first on our top 10 fastest aircraft in the world list. This aircraft has the current world record for the fastest manned aircraft. Its maximum speed was Mach 6.70 (about 7,200 km/h) which it attained on the 3rd of October 1967. To be stable at these super high velocities, it had to feature a big wedge tail, however, the downside of this was at lower speeds the drag was extremely big from such a tail. Therefore a B-52 Stratofortress had to carry it up to an altitude of about 14,000 meters before dropping it at which it ignited its own engines. Just imagine sitting in a rocket measuring only 15 m in length and then being dropped, must have been a truly magnificent feeling! The X-15 was used at such extreme speeds so that it did not use traditional ways to steer (using drag over a fin) but instead it used rocket thrusters! This made it possible to reach altitudes higher than 100 kilometers, which was one of its world records.
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