What are the world’s fastest aircraft of all time? That’s my kind of question. We’ll not mess around and just get stuck in shall we? Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section.
#10 – Sukhoi Su-27 “Flanker”
Top speed: Mach 2.35
The Flanker is over 35 years old now and can actually fly itself whilst over hostile territory. This twin engine beauty can reach impressive speeds of over Mach 2. It was built to tackle the F-15 Eagle, another awesome plane. This machine of war carries 10 external pylons that can accommodate heat seeking, air to air, medium and short ranged missiles. She also boasts a terrifying 30mm gun with 150 round capacity. Her twin AL-31F turbofan engines give this plane enough “oomph” to get it onto the list.
Chinese SU-27 [Image source: Wikimedia Commons]
#9 General Dynamics F-111 “Aardvark”
Top speed: Mach 2.5
The precursor to the iconic Grumman F-14 “Tomcat”, the “Aardvark”, is in 9th place with its top speed of Mach 2.5. The side by side twin seater aircraft allows pilots equal access to controls as well as incorporating the “swing-wing” technology that became common in other iconic planes. This design allows the crew to change the wing into three different positions. This impressive craft has a total carrying payload capacity of 13,600 kgs.
General Dynamics FB-111A Aardvark [Image source: Wikimedia Commons]
#8 McDonnell Douglas F-15 “Eagle”
Top speed: Mach 2.5
The iconic “Eagle” is touted as having an extended period of operation well beyond 2025. With a Mach speed equitable to the “Aardvark”, the Eagle takes 8th place because it’s so much more graceful, personal choice ok! The “Eagle” is arguably the U.S. Air Force’s most successful fighter to date. The F-15 has superior radar and tactical navigation systems that put it leagues ahead of its contemporaries and has secured its use well past its designed lifespan. F-15s come equipped with 20mm Gatling guns tucked under their wings and can carry AIM-120 advanced medium air to air missiles. It’s also a very good looking plane!
Saudi F-15 [Image source: Wikimedia Commons]
#7 Mikoyan Gurevich-31 “Foxhound”
Top speed: Mach 2.83
The “Foxhound” is renowned for being one of the fastest combat jets ever built. This jet not only has great speeds, it’s equipped to deal with high-speed hostile units. The “Foxhound” can be equipped with short, medium and long-range missiles and is expected to be in operation well beyond 2030.
Russian Air Force MiG-31 [Image source: Wikimedia Commons]
#6 XB-70 “Valkyrie”
Top speed: Mach 3
With its unique design and use of six, yes six, engines, the “Valkyrie” can ride its own shockwave and hit breathtaking speeds. She was designed to outrun and evade Soviet fighters whilst delivering a nuclear payload of up to fourteen bombs. Although they never saw active service with only a couple of prototypes built, they were designed to get in and get out as fast as possible.
North American XB-70 [Image source: Wikimedia Commons]
#5 Mikoyan MiG-25 “Foxbat”
Top speed: Mach 3.2
Designed to counter the potential threat of aircraft like the “Valkyrie”, the MiG-25 could reach impressive speeds of up to Mach 3.2, in theory. Witjh a service ceiling of around 24 km this is an impressive aircraft. The airframe could cope with temperatures of above 350 degrees Celsius the fuselage was made of titanium and other heat proof materials.
MiG-25 [Image source: Wikimedia Commons]
#4 Lockheed YF-12
Top speed: Mach 3.35
Introduced in 1964, this amazing aeroplane could reach Mach 3.35! The YF-12 was the precursor prototype to its more famous sibling the SR71 “Blackbird”. It reached record speeds of over 3200 kmh at an altitude of 24km. The YF-12 began as a secret project that ultimately paved the way for our next entry. Who knows how many UFO sitings this inspired during development?
Sole remaining example of the Lockheed YF-12A [Image source: Wikimedia Commons]
#3 Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird”
Top speed: Mach 3+
The SR-71 got its nickname from the fact that its design makes it incredibly stealthy in design and nature. She packed side scanning radar and had abilities to disrupt enemy radar and communications. This aircraft has earned its reputation as a stealthy and speedy weapon of war. The Blackbird has an impressive record of over four thousand strikes against it with not a single one hit.
SR-71A [Image source: Wikimedia Commons]
#2 North American X-15
Top speed: Mach 6.7
This innocuous-looking plane was developed in 1955 by North American Aviation and Reaction Motors. It is the world’s current record holder for fastest manned aircraft and comes in second place on our list, you’ll see why in a bit. This plane had the capability of reaching the edge of space at eye-watering speed. Rocket thrusters were used to steer this awesome plane at altitudes of over 30 km up!
X-15A2 [Image source: Wikimedia Commons]
#1 Falcon HTV-2
Top speed: Mach 20
Initially launched in 2010 this prototype hypersonic aircraft has been recorded at hitting Mach 20, granted this was technically gliding rather than propelled flight. The Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle is the only unmanned aircraft on our list and is currently in development by DARPA and the US Airforce. It has been used to collect data and can travel between Los Angeles and New York in under 15 minutes! That’s incredible!
Artist impression [Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]
Bonus – English Electric Lightning
Top speed: Mach 2
Although not an official entry on our list, the “Lightning” was an incredible aircraft and one of my all time favorite planes. Powered by twin Rolls-Royce Avon turbojets this plane was developed to combat the increasingly longer ranged soviet bombers of the time. Pilots have famously remembered that flying one was like being “saddled to a skyrocket”. She was finally retired by the RAF in 1988 but is remembered fondly in the UK and is hands down one of the finest warplanes of all time!
Lightning Training Flight [Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]
So there you go. Do you agree? Have we missed any out? Feel free to let us know in the comments section, after all, we are only human. Long live the English Electric Lightning!