10 of the Fastest Airplanes In The World
The need for speed seems to have always been somehow embedded in a man’s genetic code. Ways of fulfilling that need, however, vary from person to person. A large percentage do it the wussy way, meaning, the closest they’ll ever get to clocking 200 mph is by playing Need For Speed or Gran Turismo. Then there are the people who can afford to buy the fastest cars on the planet, and put the pedal to the metal on lonely stretches of road. Others become professional racers, going at insane speeds during F1 or Indy 500 competitions. An elite few, however, go for nothing less than balls-to-the-wall speed, and the only way they could achieve that is not on the ground, but in the air. They become pilots, hoping to drive any of the aircraft listed below, 10 of the fastest airplanes in the world.
Now some of the planes listed here, almost all of which are military, are no longer operational, and only exist in aviation museums. Still, the impact they’ve had on speedometers hold speedaholics in awe, having hit speeds that put the capabilities of the most expensive private jets to shame.
Many people say the X-15 doesn’t count, since it is a rocket-powered plane, not an air-breathing jet one. Still, a manned aircraft that once reached Mach 6.7 or 4,520 mph surely has to count for something as far as speed demons are concerned. The X-15 remains the fastest manned aircraft ever.
2. SR-71 Blackbird
At Mach 3.2, or over 2,200 mph, the SR-71 Blackbird is the fastest jet aircraft in the world. Too bad the Blackbird, which once flew from New York to London in 1 hour and 54 minutes, was retired in 1998.
3. MiG-25 Foxbat
With an average speed of Mach 2.83, or 2,115 mph, the Foxbat is the fastest jet fighter in the world. And unlike many of its Russian contemporaries, it is still very much in active service, albeit a limited one.
4. XB-70 Valkyrie
The Valkyrie was a U.S. Air Force nuclear bomber that had to capability to cruise at 2,000 mph, which effectively makes it one of the fastest bombers ever conceived. Unfortunately, it never got past the test stage, and only two prototypes were built, with one crashing in 1966, and the other one now on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.
5. F-15 Eagle
Compared to the Russian Foxbat, the F-15 Eagle, the fastest fighter jet in the U.S. military arsenal, is a slowpoke. But its maximum speed of 1,875 mph and all-weather capabilities are nothing to sneeze at. In fact, the USAF plans to keep the F-15 in active service until 2025, a definite testament to the F-15’s overall reliability.
6. MiG-31 Foxhound
Designed to replace the Foxbat, the MiG-31 Foxhound, which has a maximum speed of 1,868 mph, was the most advanced interceptor fielded by the Soviet Union before it collapsed.
7. F-111 Aardvark
The Aardvark is a multipurpose tactical fighter bomber capable of speeds up to 1,850 mph. Although retired from USAF active service in 1998, the F-111, which has a number of variants, remains active with the Royal Australian Air Force, whose people affectionately call the aircraft the “Pig”.
8. F-14 Tomcat
You might recognize this one as the fighter plane Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer fly in “Top Gun”. This U.S. Navy jet fighter has a maximum speed of Mach 2.34 or 1,544 mph. It has since been retired from active U.S. service in 2006, but remains operational with the Iranian air force.
9. Tupolev Tu-144
Before the Concorde, there was the Tupolev Tu-144, the world’s first supersonic transport aircraft. It had a top speed of Mach 2.35 or 1,550 mph, which effectively made it the fastest commercial airliner ever. However, it wasn’t as successful as its supersonic Anglo-French counterpart, and was eventually retired from service in 1978, 25 years before the Concorde performed its own swan song.
First flown in 1958, the F-4 Phantom is one of the oldest and most successful fighter aircraft still in active service. It has a maximum speed of Mach 2.23 or 1,472 mph.
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