The fastest fighter jet ever engineered goes to the NASA/USAF X-15, an experimental aircraft resembling a rocket with wings. This groundbreaking creation managed to achieve an astounding speed record of 4,520mph. As for the current reigning champion, the title of the fastest fighter jet in the world belongs to the MiG-25 Foxbat, capable of reaching a top speed of 2,190mph. Although it falls short compared to the X-15, it still remains an impressive feat.
But how do these jets fare against other notable contenders from history and the existing military aircraft in service? Each aircraft mentioned boasts a capability to exceed Mach 2.0, surpassing speeds of 1,520mph. This means these remarkable jets can soar at nearly twice the speed of sound or even faster.
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WHAT DOES MACH SPEED SIGNIFY?
Mach speed is a measure relative to the speed of sound. The speed of sound is approximately 332 m/s or 1195 km/hr or 717 miles/hour, commonly referred to as Mach 1.0. When an aircraft surpasses the speed of sound, it breaches what is known as the “sound barrier,” often resulting in a thunderous sonic boom. Once aircraft are capable of traveling faster than the speed of sound, they transform into formidable combat machines, enabling them to intercept other aircraft and swiftly reach targets over vast distances.
Observe the awe-inspiring sight of jets breaking the sound barrier and generating sonic booms:
World Fastest Military Fighter Aircraft
Undoubtedly, the title of the fastest Military fighter jet ever constructed belongs to the remarkable NASA/USAF X-15. This extraordinary aircraft achieved an unparalleled pinnacle of speed, soaring at a mind-boggling Mach 6.72 or 4,520 mph. To put it into perspective, this speed is over five times faster than the velocity of sound. Developed as an experimental hypersonic rocket-powered aircraft during the 1960s, the X-15 still holds the record for the highest speed ever accomplished by a crewed and powered aircraft. While it is true that numerous rockets and spacecraft designed for space exploration can surpass this velocity, when it comes to jets, the X-15 stands unrivaled, outpacing any other aircraft by a monumental margin.
Fastest Military Fighter Aircraft in Service
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat claims the esteemed position of being the fastest Military fighter jet presently in service. With its remarkable capability to achieve Mach 3.2 or 2,190 mph, the MiG-25 may not surpass the speeds of certain retired or experimental aircraft. But it remains unmatched in its class as the sole fighter jet in active duty that can exceed Mach 3.0, solidifying its status as the fastest operational fighter jet by a considerable margin. Originally introduced as a Russian-built interceptor in 1970, the MiG-25 has persevered as one of the swiftest fighter jets throughout its more than 50 years of existence.
Top 10 Fastest Military Fighter Jets in the World
Here are the 10 top military aircraft that can fly above Mach 2, along with their top speeds:
1. NASA/USAF X-15 – Mach 6.72 (4,520 mph)
The X-15 is an experimental high-speed rocket-propelled research aircraft operated jointly by NASA and the United States Air Force. The result is more missile-based than fighter-based, but it shows what could happen if jets used…well, missiles instead of jets. Developed in the 1960s, only three were built and took off with two of his modified B52 bombers powered by X-15s on board. Eight of the 12 pilots who flew the X-15 reached altitudes above 80 miles. It meets Air Force spaceflight standards and automatically certifies these pilots as astronauts. Military pilots are entitled to astronaut wings, and civilian pilots receive them from NASA 35 years after the X-15’s last flight.
2. SR-71 Blackbird – Mach 3.4 (2,500 mph+)
With half the top speed of the X-15, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird may seem slow in comparison, but it’s still one of only five ever built that can exceed Mach 3.0. is one considering the X-15 is more missile-based and the fastest fighter ever, the SR-71 is the fastest fighter ever. Used by both NASA and USAF, the SR-71 was developed for reconnaissance missions in the 1960s. Since many reconnaissance missions are now performed by satellites, the last of his SR-71s was in 1999 when he retired from NASA. In addition to being fast, blackbirds were able to fly high for long periods of time. Some jets can fly high, but many can’t, but the SR-71 can easily fly at altitudes of 25,000 meters, making it ideal for safe-range reconnaissance.
3. Lockheed YF-12 – Mach 3.2 (2,275 mph)
With half the top speed of the X-15, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird may seem slow in comparison, but it’s still one of only five ever built that can exceed Mach 3.0. is one of the considering the X-15 is more missile-based and the fastest fighter ever, the SR-71 is the fastest fighter ever. Used by both NASA and USAF, the SR-71 was developed for reconnaissance missions in the 1960s. Since many reconnaissance missions are now performed by satellites, the last of his SR-71s was in 1999 when he retired from NASA.
4. MiG-25 Foxbat – Mach 3.2 (2,190 mph)
The MiG-25 Foxbat is still in limited service today and is the only aircraft in service with the Air Force capable of speeds above Mach 3.0. Developed in the 1960s, his MiG-25 quickly became one of his fastest fighters of all time, a record held for over 50 years. Although more modern variants such as the MiG-31 and MiG-29 have been adopted, the MiG-25 still serves as an interceptor and is used by some air forces around the world for reconnaissance missions. increase. Production was discontinued, but about 1,200 were produced. When the MiG-25 is finally retired, there are currently no other jets operating at Mach 3.0 or higher in the world today.
5. Bell X-2 Starbuster – Mach 3.2 (2,094 mph)
The main purpose of the Bell X-2 was to study flight characteristics in the Mach 2-3 range, primarily the problem of “hot bush heating” caused by aerodynamic friction. The Bell X-2 was designed to be faster and fly higher than Bell, but three years later he started developing his X-15, which far exceeded the speed of the X-2. I was.
6. XB-70 Valkyrie – Mach 3.02 (2,056 mph)
Developed as a prototype for his proposed B-70 nuclear bomber, the North American XB-70 Valkyrie is a supersonic strategic bomber and the only one to have blown at this speed. Developed in the late 1950s, the XB-70 could fly up to 70,000 feet or 21,000 meters at Mach 3 and above. At this altitude and speed, the B-70 was thought to be immune to any interceptors.BecausetheB-70couldnotcatchupwith other aircraft at the time, it was difficult to detect radar. However, as surface-to-air missiles evolved, the XB-70 developed weaknesses, prompting the USAF to begin low-altitude test flights. However, the XB-70 offered little better performance than its intended successor, the later discontinued B-52.
7. MiG-31 Foxhound – Mach 2.83 (1,864 mph)
The MiG-31 Foxhound, an advanced supersonic interceptor aircraft developed as a successor to the previous but swifter MiG-25 Foxbat. This aircraft was conceptualized in the 1970s and remains in active service to this day. While technically capable of reaching speeds up to Mach 3.2, the MiG-31’s operational limitation of Mach 2.83 positions it as the second-fastest fighter jet currently in service. Nevertheless, it is expected to continue its operational tenure for several more years. Unlike its predecessor, the MiG-31 prioritized enhanced maneuverability and ease of flight over sheer speed, making it a more agile and manageable aircraft despite its slightly slower velocity.
8. F-15 Eagle – Mach 2.5 (1,650 mph)
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, is acclaimed as the fastest multirole fighter in the world, boasting a top speed of Mach 2.5. This exceptional aircraft remains in active service and has been adopted by numerous air forces globally. The F-15 comes in various versions, including the F-15E Strike Eagle and the F-15N Sea Eagle, tailored to meet diverse operational requirements. Introduced during the 1970s, the F-15 continues to be one of the most versatile fighter jets in existence, as well as one of the swiftest. During its development phase, the initial goal was to attain speeds of Mach 3.0. However, for cost-saving reasons, this target was revised to Mach 2.5. Consequently, the F-15 emphasizes air superiority and versatility rather than sheer velocity and altitude. Notably, the F-15 boasts an outstanding track record, with over 100 victories and zero losses in air combat.
9. F-111 Aardvark – Mach 2.5 (1,650 mph)
The General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark, introduced in the late 1960s, was a cutting-edge supersonic medium-range tactical aircraft that served in multiple roles, with its primary functions encompassing fighter-bomber and strategic-bomber duties. Although it is no longer in active service today, the United States Air Force replaced it with the F-15E Strike Eagle for strike missions, while the role of the supersonic bomber was assumed by the B-1B Lancer. The F-111 holds the distinction of being the first jet aircraft to incorporate various groundbreaking technologies, such as variable-sweep wings and after-burning turbofan engines.
10. Su-27 Flanker – Mach 2.35 (1,553 mph)
Among our list of the top 10 swiftest jets ever manufactured, the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker claims its place with an impressive maximum speed of Mach 2.35. This exceptional aircraft, introduced in the 1980s, continues to serve active duty to this day. The Su-27 was specifically designed as a direct rival to the retired F-14 Tomcat and the F-15 Eagle, emphasizing its prowess as a highly maneuverable fighter aircraft. Several variants and related developments of the Su-27 exist, including the Su-30, Su-33, and Su-34. Furthermore, the Shenyang J-11, a Chinese aircraft produced under license, is essentially a version of the Su-27. Comparable to the approach adopted by the United States Air Force, the Soviet Union prioritized maneuverability rather than sheer speed and altitude when conceptualizing the Su-27 in response to the F-15.