The F-1117 Nighthawk is a single-seat, twin-engine stealth attack aircraft that was developed by Lockheed’s secretive Skunk Works division. The plane made its maiden flight in 1981 and achieved initial operating status in 1983, but was operated in secrecy until 1988.
The F-1117 was strictly a ground-attack aircraft during the Gulf War of 1991. It also took part in the conflict in Yugoslavia in 1999, where one of the planes was shot down by a surface-to-air missile and became the only Nighthawk to be lost in combat. The U.S. Air Force officially retired the F-117 in April 2008.
The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber, is an American heavy strategic bomber. The B-2 Spirit was developed through the “Advanced Technology Bomber” (ATB) project during the Carter administration and was designed with low observable stealth technology. The cost of each aircraft in 1997 was $737 but the procurement costs averaged $929 million per aircraft for the spare parts, equipment and software support.
The B-2 is capable of all-altitude attack missions up to 50,000 feet and was used during the Kosovo War in 1999. The B-2 Spirit also saw further service in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters undergoing final development and testing by the United States. It is descended from the X-35, which was the winning design of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. The F-25 has three main models that are designed to perform ground attack, aerial reconnaissance, and air defense missions.
While development is principally funded by the United States, additional funding have been provided by partner nations that are either NATO members or close U.S. allies. The first prototype was launched in December 2006 and as of November 2014, 115 models have been built.
The Sukhio PAK FAT-50 is a stealthy, single-seat, twin-engine jet fighter, and will be the first operational aircraft in Russian service to use stealth technology. The multirole fighter is designed for air superiority and attack roles and intended to be the successsor to the MiG-29 and Su-27.
The T-50 prototype first flew on 29 January 2010 and the first production aircraft is slated for delivery to the Russian Air Force starting in late 2016 or early 2017. The T-50 is expected to have a service life of up to 35 years.
The Sukhol Su-27 is a twin-engine fighter plane built by the former U.S.S.R., in an attempt to outdo similarly advanced American aircraft. The plane made its first flight in May 1977, and officially entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1985. The aircraft can reach a maximum supersonic speed of Mach 2.35 (1,550 mph, or 2,500 km/h), which is 2.35 times the speed of sound.
The Su-27 earned a reputation of being one of the most capable fighters of its time, and some remain in military use in Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine.
14. F-4 Phantom
This was the superior fighter jet during the Vietnam War
The F-111 Aardvark was a tactical strike aircraft developed in the 1960s by General Dynamics. The two-person plane first entered service with the U.S. Air Force in 1967, and was used for strategic bombing campaigns, gathering reconnaissance and performing electronic warfare. The F-111 was able to fly at speeds of Mach 2.5 (1,650 mph, or 2,655 km/h), or 2.5 times the speed of sound.
The F-111 Aardvark was widely used during the Vietnam War, but was phased out of use by the U.S. Air Force in 1998.
The F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine tactical fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas in 1967. The all-weather plane is designed to gain and maintain air superiority over enemy forces during aerial combat, which involves holding dominant positions in the sky. The F-15 Eagle first flew in July 1972, and officially entered service in the U.S. Air Force in 1976.
F-15s are capable of flying at speeds greater than Mach 2.5 (1,650 mph, or 2,655 km/h), and are considered one of the most successful planes ever created. The F-15 Eagle is expected to continue flying in the U.S. Air Force beyond 2025, and have also been exported to a number of foreign nations, including Japan, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
11. Mikoyan Ye-152
The fastest Single jet engine made by the Russians
The Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound is a large, twin-engine supersonic aircraft designed to intercept foreign planes at high speeds. The two-person plane made its first flight in September 1975, and was introduced into service in the Soviet Air Defense Forces in 1982.
The MiG-31 reached published speeds of Mach 2.83 (1,860 mph, or 3,000 km/h), and was capable of flying supersonic even at low altitudes. The MiG-31 is still in service in the Russian Air Force and Kazakhstan Air Force.
The mammoth six-engine XB-70 Valkyrie was designed by North American Aviation in the late 1950s. The aircraft was built as a prototype for a proposed nuclear-armed strategic bomber. The XB-70 Valkyrie achieved its design speed on Oct. 14, 1965, when it accelerated to Mach 3.02 (2,000 mph, or 3,219 km/h), at an altitude of 70,000 feet (21,300 m) over Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Two XB-70s were built and used in supersonic test flights from 1964 to 1969. Whereas one of the prototypes was lost in 1966 after a midair collision, the other XB-70 is on display for the public to view at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.
The Bell X-2 was a rocket-powered research plane jointly developed by Bell Aircraft Corporation, the U.S. Air Force and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (the precursor to NASA) in 1945. The aircraft was built to investigate aerodynamic issues with supersonic flight within the Mach 2 to Mach 3 range.
The X-2, nicknamed “Starbuster,” completed its first powered flight in November 1955. The following year, in September 1956, Captain Milburn Apt was at the controls when the X-2 reached Mach 3.2 (2,094 mph, or 3,370 km/h), at an altitude of 65,000 feet (19,800 m).
Shortly after attaining this top speed, however, Apt tried to turn the aircraft while it was still above Mach 3. The plane tumbled out of control, and Apt’s attempts to recover from the spin failed. This tragic accident ended the X-2 program, after a total of 20 test flights.
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat was designed to intercept enemy aircraft at supersonic speeds and to collect reconnaissance data. The plane is one of the fastest military aircraft to have entered operational service. The MiG-25 made its first flight in 1964, and was first used by the Soviet Air Defense Forces in 1970.
The plane has an incredible top speed of Mach 3.2 (2,190 mph, or 3,524 km/h). The MiG-25 Foxbat is still in limited service in the Russian Air Force, but is also used by several other nations, including the Algerian Air Force and Syrian Air Force.
6. SR-71 Blackbird
Top Speed:2,500 MPH Price: $43,000,000.00 Hours To Get Around The World: 9.9 Hours
The SR-71 Blackbird was an advanced Cold War-era reconnaissance aircraft developed by Lockheed in the 1960s. The program was known as a “black project,” which meant it was highly classified. The twin-engine, two-seater aircraft was capable of outracing potential threats during reconnaissance missions, including being able to accelerate and out-fly surface-to-air missiles if it was detected.
The SR-71 Blackbird could accelerate to Mach 3.3 (more than 2,500 mph, or 3,540 km/h) at an altitude of 80,000 feet (24,400 m).
The SR-71 made its first flight in December 1964, and was flown by the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1998. The Blackbird’s performance and achievements cemented the plane as one of the greatest triumphs in aviation technology during the Cold War.
The rocket-powered X-15 was part of a fleet of X-plane experimental aircraft operated jointly by NASA and the U.S. Air Force. In the early 1960s, the X-15 set a number of speed and altitude records, reaching the edge of space (an altitude of more than 62 miles or 100 kilometers) on two separate occasions in 1963.
Currently, the X-15 still holds the official world record for the fastest speed ever reached by a manned aircraft: Mach 6.72, which is 6.72 times the speed of sound, or 4,520 mph (7,274 km/h).
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4. Boeing X-51
A pilot-less plane. Designed to be used as High Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW) in 2020