Commercial planes can get you from point A to point B, but they focus more on function than style. They’re faster than traveling by train, boat, or car in most cases, but other planes are much quicker on the market today. Scientists, engineers, and militaries have been working to develop fast planes ever since the first plane successfully flew in 1903. Here are 7 of the fastest planes in the world today.
1. North American X-15
The North American X-15 holds the record for the fastest plane globally, with speeds topping 7,274 kilometers per hour. It was first developed by the United States Air Force and NASA, with its first flight in June 1959. The North American X-15 is a hypersonic rocket-powered plane. It features a wedge-shaped tail with small, thinner wings than other airplanes. While its design helps it achieve its high speeds, it can cause drag that will slow it down when you fly at lower altitudes.
In addition to being the fastest plane globally, the North American X-15 holds other world records, including reaching over 100 kilometers in height, flying more than six times the speed of sound, and being the first operational spaceplane.
2. Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird is a fighter jet that tops at 3,529 kilometers per hour. Another plane that the U.S. Air Force and NASA built, it was built in 1966 to help the military with reconnaissance and research missions. It featured state-of-the-art technology that helped them stealthily retreat from enemies, even if they were detected.
The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was once the fastest fighter jet in the world, and while it’s since lost that title, the jet still holds the world record for being the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft in the world. This jet reaches high temperatures because of its speed, which sometimes expands its metal. In fact, it moved so fast that it could outrun missiles launched at it.
3. Bell X-2 Starbuster
The Bell X-2 Starbuster was designed as a research aircraft to help scientists understand how supersonic aircrafts reacted in different altitudes in 1955. It featured no missile launching system. The Bell X-2 Starbuster can reach up to 3,370 kilometers per hour, though it crashed in 1956 and was never manufactured again.
4. XB-70 Valkyrie
The XB-70 Valkyrie was developed in the Cold War for use by the U.S. Air Force and NASA. Because of that, it was armed with nuclear weapons and was specifically designed to perform well at low altitudes, with speeds topping 3,309 kilometers per hour. It flew under the radar and was made for defense and offensive flying.
5. McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle was first developed in 1976 and has remained a critical part of the U.S. Air Force. It has top speeds of 3,017 kilometers per hour and is one of the most successful fighter jets. This technology has been exported to Saudi Arabia, Japan, Israel, and other countries worldwide.
6. Mikoyan MiG-25
The Mikoyan MiG-25 is a Russian aircraft that can reach up to 3,000 kilometers per hour. It was a Soviet-era aircraft, first introduced during the Cold War in response to the Lockheed Sr-71 Blackbird. While it was built for speed and defense, it mainly functioned as a surveillance plane.
The Mikoyan MiG-25 is still used today in some countries, including Russia, Algeria, Syria, and Turkmenistan.
7. General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark
The General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark may no longer be in use, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t carry a strong legacy. With speeds topping 2,655 kilometers per hour, the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark is a supersonic attack aircraft that helped the U.S. Air Force with reconnaissance, nuclear attack missions, and electronic warfare, to name a few. It helped to pioneer many of the modern technologies available in jets today.