5 Notable Boeing Military Aircraft

Boeing has been manufacturing aircraft for over a century. They are known worldwide for their commercial models, such as the 737 and 747. Boeing also produces military aircraft that are a vital part of air arsenals around the globe. They make VVIP transport aircraft, freighters, maritime patrol vessels, and fighter jets. In this article, we delve into the top 5 notable Boeing military aircraft, showcasing the pinnacle of their contributions to the world of military aviation.

5 Notable Boeing Military Aircraft

1. The VC25A: Air Force One

5 Notable Boeing Military Aircraft
Air Force One

The US presidential plane, commonly known as Air Force One, is probably one of the most photographed on the planet. This emblem of American diplomacy and power carries the president and other senior government officials on diplomatic missions and international state visits.

VC-25A Specifications

  • Crew 26 (2 pilots, 1 engineer, 1 navigator, plus cabin crew and mission crew)
  • Ability 76 passengers
  • Maximum speed Mach 0.92
  • Spectrum 6,800 NM

The fleet currently consists of two units of the 747-200B model, which was first developed in the 1970s. These planes, known as VC25B within the USAF, have the same recognizable shape and four engines as the 747, but they have been heavily modified with advanced defense systems and infrared countermeasures to deflect missiles. However, most of the aircraft’s specifications remain classified.

The well-known blue, white, and brushed metal livery design was introduced during the Kennedy administration when Boeing 707s were still used for presidential missions. The designer of this iconic design was the famous French-American designer Raymond Loewy, who is also recognized for other iconic designs, including those of TWA.

The two current 747s are officially designated SAM 28000 and SAM 29000—where “SAM” stands for Special Air Mission, according to Global Security. Org—continue to perform these presidential missions. In situations where the runway is insufficient for the deployment of the gigantic VC25A, the Air Force has the capacity to employ two C-32As, specially adapted versions of the 757-200.

These planes are typically used to transport the vice president but are equally equipped to carry the president on international missions. Significantly, the designation “Air Force One” is only used when the president is aboard the aircraft.

2. The C-17 Globemaster III

5 Notable Boeing Military Aircraft
C-17 Globemaster III

Strategic Air Fortress: The C-17 Globemaster III

The C-17 Globemaster III, commonly known as the C-17 or simply Globemaster, is a Boeing strategic air transport aircraft distinguished by its versatility and four-engine capability.

C-17 specifications

  • Crew 2 pilots, 2 observers
  • Ability 102 troops or 80 pallets
  • Speed 830 km/h (Mach 0.67)
  • Spectrum 4,450 km

This model of aircraft is designed to transport large amounts of equipment to airfields around the world. Its engines are built to reduce the chances of debris getting inside, which makes it safe to use on unpaved runways and in tough conditions. Although it may look like a regular freighter, it can also carry soldiers.

According to Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, it can hold up to 102 soldiers. During the 2021 Kabul evacuation, one C-17 aircraft transported 827 people, which is a great example of its capacity.

3. B-52 – Stratofortress

5 Notable Boeing Military Aircraft

The B-52: Pillar of intercontinental strategic bombing

The B-52, known as the Stratofortress, has been the mainstay of the United States Air Force’s long-range intercontinental strategic bombing since its introduction in 1955.

B-52 specifications

  • Crew 5 (aircraft commander, pilot, radar navigator, navigator and electronic warfare officer)
  • Ability 70,000 pounds (31,500 kg) of mixed munitions: bombs, smart weapons, mines and missiles
  • Speed 650 mph (Mach 0.86)
  • Spectrum 8,800 mi (7,652 nautical miles)

Throughout its long service, this bomber has actively participated in numerous conflicts in the Middle East, remaining operational in the skies until almost 65 years after its first flight. Boeing has produced multiple variants of the B-52, delivering models initially numbered 60-0001 through 60-0062 and a later series 61-0001 through 61-0040.

Despite their age, these aircraft continue to be relevant thanks to modernization programs such as engine replacement, in which the old Pratt & Whitney TF33 is replaced by the more modern Rolls-Royce F-130, a project valued at 2.6 billion dollars. This modernization effort ensures that the B-52 continues to be a crucial tool in American defense and air power projection.

Here’s a great video of a B-52 taking off:

4. The F/A-18E/F

5 Notable Boeing Military Aircraft

Super Hornet: The Evolution of the F-18

The F/A-18E/F variant of the Super Hornet, which made its first flight in 1995, reaches speeds of up to Mach 1.8.

Originally designed by McDonnell Douglas, the company’s merger with Boeing in 1997 allowed the model to continue its legacy under the Boeing banner. Today, the Super Hornet is primarily operated by the  United States Navy, Royal Australian Navy, and Kuwait Air Force.

F/A-18 Specifications

  • Crew 1 or 2 pilots
  • Weapon Payload F/A-18E: 9,900 lb (4,491 kg)
  • F/A-18F: 9,000 lb (4,082 kg)
  • Speed Mach 1.6
  • Spectrum 2,346 km

Although there were discussions with the German Luftwaffe about the possible acquisition of these fighters, the incompatibility with their weapons systems led Germany to opt for the F-35. The F/A-18E/F has also gained notoriety through the US Navy’s Blue Angels aerobatic team, known for their impressive aerial displays.

Furthermore, its popularity increased with the sequel to the movie “Top Gun” released in 2022, which featured the Super Hornet in a prominent role.

5. P-8 Poseidon

P-8 Poseidon: Maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare

5 Notable Boeing Military Aircraft
P-8 Poseidon

The P-8 Poseidon, based on the design of the Boeing 737-800 commercial airliner, is a multi-role platform used for missions ranging from aerial surveillance to anti-submarine warfare.

P-8 Poseidon Specifications

  • Crew 9 aviators and aviators
  • Weapons 129 A-size Sonobuoys, MK-54 Torpedo, Harpoon Missile
  • Speed 490 kt (564 mi/h)
  • Spectrum 1,200+nm

According to Boeing, the P-8 offers superior capabilities, reaching heights of up to 41,000 feet and speeds of 490 knots, which represents a significant improvement over its predecessors, such as the P-3 Orion.

These improvements allow for reduced transit times and a smaller area of ​​probability during submarine search operations. Additionally, the P-8 has proven to be a valuable asset in humanitarian search and rescue operations. Its current operators include the Royal New Zealand Navy, the  US Navy, and the British Royal Navy, each leveraging its versatility to fulfill critical missions globally.


1. What makes Boeing’s military aircraft notable?

Boeing military planes are well-known for their innovative, reliable, and versatile features. They are highly valued by air forces worldwide and are often equipped with advanced defense systems and cutting-edge technology. The information in this text is presented in a clear and concise manner, with short sentences and everyday language. This ensures its accessibility to a wide range of readers.

Which Boeing military aircraft are widely used for presidential missions?

Boeing manufactures a special plane called the VC-25A. When the President is on board, it is called Air Force One. The VC-25A is used for presidential missions. Sometimes, the airport runway is too short for the VC-25A to land. In those cases, they use a modified version of another plane, called the C-32A.

How does Boeing contribute to maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare?

The P-8 Poseidon is a versatile aircraft designed by Boeing for use in maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare. The P-8 is equipped with advanced sensors and weapons systems, making it highly capable in tracking submarines and conducting aerial surveillance missions. The aircraft is based on the 737-800 commercial airliner design and is used for multiple purposes.

What role do Boeing aircraft play in strategic bombing operations?

The B-52, or “Stratofortress,” has been important to the US Air Force’s long-range intercontinental strategic bombing since 1955. It can carry a variety of weapons and has long-range capabilities. The B-52 is still essential for strategic bombing missions.

Which fighter jet variant is a notable product of Boeing’s collaboration with McDonnell Douglas?

The F/A-18 Super Hornet is a fighter jet that was originally designed by McDonnell Douglas, and it is still in production under Boeing today. The United States Navy and other air forces around the world use it widely because of its speed, agility, and capacity to carry weapons. These characteristics make it a highly effective variant.