In the world of aviation, speed is one of the most awe-inspiring and significant factors. Throughout history, various nations have developed and deployed fighter jets and bombers with incredible speeds that pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible. From the early days of jet aviation to the modern era of stealth technology, this article ranks the fastest aircraft in the world. Let’s take a thrilling journey through aviation history and discover the incredible feats achieved by these high-speed machines.
Global Fighter Speed Ranking
23. Swedish Saab 35 Fighter (Mach 2.0)
Sweden, a country with a relatively small population, surprised the world in the 1950s by producing the Saab 35 fighter jet. This aircraft showcased Sweden’s industrial strength with a top speed of Mach 2.0. Over 500 Saab 35 fighters were manufactured, and they even found success in international markets, being exported to Finland.
22. American B-58 Bomber (Mach 2.0)
While the United States is often associated with modern bombers like the B-2 and B-52, the B-58 bomber also demonstrated impressive performance. Operating in the early 1960s, a total of 116 B-58 bombers were built, making it a notable entry in the high-speed aircraft list.
21. Eurofighter Typhoon (Mach 2.0)
The Eurofighter Typhoon, a fourth-generation fighter, has served extensively in European countries and gained popularity in West Asia. Countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy have utilized this fighter, and it remains active in various air forces worldwide.
20. American F-16 Fighter Jet (2.05 Mach)
The F-16, a renowned fourth-generation fighter, stands out as one of the most produced aircraft in the world post-World War II. With about 4,000 improved versions manufactured, it has become a famous and versatile aircraft used by the United States and several other countries.
19. Soviet/Russian Tu-160 Bomber (Mach 2.05)
The Soviet Union’s approach to bomber development emphasized high-speed surprise attacks. The Tu-160 bomber, known as the White Swan, exemplifies this strategy. Still operational after over 30 years, it remains the fastest bomber globally.
18. Russian Su-57 Fighter Jet (Mach 2.1)
As Russia’s only fifth-generation fighter currently in active service, the Su-57 boasts impressive performance. However, the limited number of Su-57s presents a challenge for Russia’s air force, and expanding its fleet is an ongoing endeavor.
17. European Tornado Fighter (Mach 2.2)
Developed in the 1970s, the Tornado fighter found extensive service in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy. Its performance during the Gulf War showcased its capabilities and garnered interest from the Saudi Air Force and Oman Air Force.
16. French Mirage 2000 Fighter Jet (Mach 2.2)
France’s Mirage 2000 fighter, a product of independent research and development, reflects the nation’s industrial prowess. With over 600 manufactured units, this fighter remains a favorite for many countries and regions worldwide.
15. US F-104 Light Fighter (2.2 Mach)
The F-104’s unique design, resembling a “missile with wings,” enabled it to achieve remarkable speeds during its service starting in 1958. As the world’s first fighter to reach Mach 2, the F-104 significantly impacted aviation history.
14. Mig 21 (Mach 2.2)
The MiG-21, known for its classic status, is one of the most produced fighters after World War II. Its variants have served in over 50 countries, showcasing its widespread influence.
13. American F-4 Fighter Jet (2.23 Mach)
The F-4 was contemporaneous with the MiG-21 and saw large-scale production, with over 5,000 units manufactured. Although retired in the United States, the F-4 still serves various air forces globally.
12. Russian MiG-35 Fighter Jet (2.25 Mach)
The MiG-35 represents an attempt at enhancing the fourth and a half-generation of fighter jets, building on the success of the MiG-29. While it hasn’t seen extensive service, it remains an intriguing addition to Russia’s fighter fleet.
11. American F-22 Fighter Jet (Mach 2.25)
The F-22, a fifth-generation stealth fighter, boasts robust performance. Despite its production being discontinued, it retains its reputation as a potent twin-engine fighter.
10. Russian Su-35 Fighter Jet (Mach 2.25)
9. Russian Su-27 Fighter Jet (Mach 2.35)
The Su-27, introduced in 1985, remains a vital asset for the Russian Air Force. Variants and improvements based on the Su-27 platform continue to play a crucial role in Russia’s air power.
8. Soviet MiG-23 Fighter Jet (Mach 2.35)
The MiG-23, developed around the 1960s, was the final fighter designed by the renowned Mikoyan. Entering service in 1970, over 3,000 MiG-23s were manufactured before many of them were retired.
7. American F-14 “Tomcat” Fighter Jet (2.38 Mach)
Despite being retired, the legendary F-14 “Tomcat” fighter holds a special place in the hearts of aviation enthusiasts. Notable as the world’s largest and heaviest carrier-based fighter, its high-speed performance remains commendable.
6. American F-111 Fighter Jet (2.5 Mach)
The F-111, with a service span of 46 years, had its first flight in the 1960s before finally retiring in 2011. Participating in over 100 battles, this fighter earned its reputation as a versatile and long-serving aircraft.
5. American F-15 Heavy Fighter (2.5 Mach)
The F-15 fighter, delivered to the US Air Force in 1974, has played an active role for over 40 years, participating in numerous battles. Its impressive speed and capabilities have made it a reliable asset for the US and other air forces.
4. J-20 Heavy Fighter (Mach 2.5 or Above)
The J-20, the Chinese fifth-generation fighter, is known for its sleek design and advanced features. While the exact maximum speed is debated, it remains a formidable addition to modern air forces.
3. Russian MiG-31 Fighter Jet (Mach 2.83)
The MiG-31 utilizes a robust steel plate and titanium alloy structure to withstand high-speed flight pressures, enabling it to achieve a significant speed of Mach 2.83.
2. Soviet MiG-25 (Mach 3.2)
The MiG-25 achieved an astonishing speed exceeding Mach 3, setting numerous world records. While its high-speed performance drew global attention, it also sparked debates about the Soviet Union’s technological capabilities.
1. American SR-71 “Blackbird” Aircraft (Mach 3.32)
The SR-71 holds the title of the fastest manned aircraft ever built, soaring at incredible speeds. Despite its retirement, the SR-71 remains an enigma, with its speed secrets still a subject of curiosity and speculation.
From the early Saab 35 to the mysterious X-37B, the aviation world has witnessed incredible technological advancements and breathtaking speeds. Each aircraft on this list has left an indelible mark on the history of aviation, pushing the boundaries of what was once thought possible. As technology continues to evolve, who knows what even faster and more remarkable aircraft the future holds?
- Q: Which aircraft holds the record for the fastest speed ever achieved? A: The American SR-71 “Blackbird” aircraft holds the record as the fastest manned aircraft, reaching a speed of Mach 3.32.
- Q: How many countries currently use the Russian Su-57 fighter jet? A: The Russian Su-57 is currently in service with Russia, and the country plans to equip a total of 76 of these fifth-generation fighters.
- Q: Is the Eurofighter Typhoon still active in the air forces of various countries? A: Yes, the Eurofighter Typhoon remains in active service in various European countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy, as well as in West Asian countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
- Q: What makes the X-37B aircraft unique compared to other fighter jets? A: The X-37B is unique because it is an autonomous spaceplane designed for orbital spaceflight missions, making it distinct from traditional fighter jets.
- Q: What was the most produced fighter after World War II? A: The Soviet MiG-21 is one of the most produced fighters after World War II, with over 10,000 units of its various improved versions manufactured.