The fastest ten planes in existence is a difficult list to draw up. On the one hand, many of the planes that are still technically fastest are no longer in active service, but still could be used. Most of these planes were built during the Cold War in the 1950s and the 1960s as part of nuclear deterrent programs, while others only represented short lived test planes.
Other planes, however, are still in active use, and the top planes in the list are still being developed as hypersonic jets. It’s also worth noting that this list excludes some space shuttle planes, just to level out the playing field a bit.
10. General Dynamics: F111 Aardvark
The Aardvark flew at 1,850 miles an hour, and was developed as a strategic bomber in the 1960s by the US Airforce. Its speed was partly due to its unique afterburning turbofans, sweep and radar. The plane was retired in the 1990s, but was one of the most effective anti-ship and air missile crafts developed as part of the Cold War.
9. MIG 31 Foxhound
A Russian jet able to reach 1,860 miles an hour, or Mach 2.83, the MIG 31 was designed for short range combat and cruise missiles. Speculation over these Russian planes during their development in the 1960s was significant, with it being difficult to really know how fast they were at the time. These jets continued to be used into the 1980s, and was also allegedly sold to Syria.
8. F-15 Eagle
A 1,875 miles an hour bomber, the F-15 Eagle was designed by McConnell Douglas for aerial combat in the 1960s as a superiority fighter. Influenced the later Strike Eagle, and experienced active service in Iraq, and as part of the Indian Air Force. Now being gradually replaced by Raptor bombers.
7. XB-70 Valkyrie
A jet fighter and interceptor, the XB-70 was developed in the 1950s, and could hit speeds of 1,890 miles an hour. Surface to air missiles were fitted, but experienced operational problems, and the Valkyrie was primarily used as part of experiments by the US Air Force into sonic boos and hypersonic flight.
6. Bell X-2
The Bell X-2 was a research plane that could hit 1,900 miles an hour, and was more specifically used to test out aerodynamics and supersonic speeds. The X-2’s ability to reach Mach 3 speeds made it one of the most distinctive planes of its era.
5. Mig-25 Foxbat
Another Russian jet, the Mig-25 could reach 2,000 miles an hour, and was used as a supersonic interceptor, with radar and missiles attached during flights. The jet was used in wars in Israel and Iran, was reportedly later sold to India.
4. SR-71 Blackbird
A US plane was achieved an early speed record of 2,200 miles an hour, the Lockheed design Blackbird was used throughout the 1960s as a recon plane for the Cold War. The Blackbird was retired several times, and last saw active service in the 1990s.
The X-15 was designed by NASA as an experimental plane that could allow 1960s astronauts to experience outer space flight by flying to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. It was believed to be able to reach 4,520 miles an hour, or Mach 6, and was the fastest plane in the world for decades.
Another NASA craft, the X-43A was able to reach 7,000 miles an hour, and was an unmanned hypersonic plane that was rocket propelled. The plane has, however suffered stack problems in the 2000s, but is still used as an experimental craft.
1. Falcon HTV
With a top speed of 13,000 miles an hour, this experimental DARPA and USAF plane flies 20 times faster than the speed of sound. It is primarily used as an experimental craft, with applications for active military service.
About the author
Sebastian is an aviation enthusiast. When he’s not out plane spotting he’s working with DirectAsia promoting their Car & Travel Insurance products in Singapore. Although odds are they probably won’t cover any flights in a Falcon HTV.