Supersonic Speed Machines: Ranking the Top 15 Fastest Fighter Jets
From the Cold War era to the present day, fighter jet technology has constantly pushed the boundaries of speed. While modern stealth and maneuverability are in focus now, raw velocity used to rule the skies. Tracing the evolution of air combat, here are the 15 fastest fighter jets ever, reaching mind-boggling speeds up to Mach 3.
In the world of aviation, the quest for speed has always been a driving force behind the development of fighter jets. Over the decades, military powers have poured significant resources into research and development to create the ultimate speed machines that dominate the skies. In this article, we present a brief analysis of the 15 fastest fighter jets ever built, spanning different eras and showcasing the technological advancements in the field of aerial warfare.
Perhaps to the surprise of some readers, older fighter jets have exhibited greater speed capabilities than some of the most modern models. While contemporary aircraft may focus on stealth and survivability, the fastest jet fighters of the past emerged during the Cold War when NATO and Soviet powers vied for air supremacy. In this article, we will explore these remarkable machines, their features, and the impact they had on military aviation.
Sukhoi Su-57 Felon – Mach 2 (1,320 MPH)
The Sukhoi Su-57, a fifth-generation stealth fighter with a top speed of 1320 MPH powered by two Saturn AL-41F1 turbofan engines, showcases Russia’s technological prowess.
Although its development has been met with challenges and limited active service, it boasts integrated avionics and a high internal payload capacity. The Su-57 is projected to replace the Su-27 and MiG-29 and represents a significant advancement in Russian military aviation.
Dassault Mirage 2000 – Mach 2.2 (1,452 MPH)
The Dassault Mirage 2000, a deadly French fighter jet, has been adopted by several air forces worldwide. Powered by an afterburning turbofan jet engine, it boasts impressive climb rates and a top speed of 1,452 mph. Its multirole capabilities make it a formidable presence in the skies.
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor – Mach 2.25 (1,500 MPH)
The F-22 Raptor is renowned for its lethal capabilities and versatility. As a twin-engine tactical fighter aircraft, it excels in air superiority, electronic warfare, signals intelligence, and ground attacks. Developed in response to new Soviet fighter jets, the F-22 Raptor remains unrivaled in its aerial prowess, setting a top speed of 1,500 mph.
MiG-29 Fulcrum – Mach 2.3+ (1,520 MPH)
The Mikoyan MiG-29, also known as the Fulcrum, is a twin-engine fighter aircraft designed in the Soviet Union during the 1970s. Designed as an air superiority and multirole fighter, the MiG-29 Fulcrum was developed by the Russian Air Force to counter American threats. Equipped with two Klimov RD-33 turbofan jet powerplants, it achieves a maximum speed of 1,520 mph. The MiG-29’s speed and maneuverability ensure its continued service in the Russian military.
Eurofighter Typhoon – Mach 2.34 (1,540 MPH)
The Eurofighter Typhoon builds upon its predecessor, the Tornado, with enhanced speed and agility. Developed jointly by BAE Systems, Airbus, and Leonardo, this fighter reaches a top speed of 1,540 mph. Its highly unstable wing design and advanced electronics contribute to its impressive performance.
Grumman F-14 Tomcat – Mach 2.34 (1,544 MPH)
The iconic F-14 Tomcat, renowned for its carrier-based operations, remains a symbol of U.S. naval aviation. With a top speed of 1,544 mph, the F-14 was retired early due to financial considerations, but its speed and capabilities place it among the finest fighter jets ever produced.
Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker – Mach 2.35 (1,553 MPH)
The Su-27 Flanker, a multirole fighter jet, originated from Sukhoi’s design for the Soviet forces. Now operational in several countries, it boasts Phazotron N001 Myech radar and the ability to carry various ammunitions, missiles, bombs, and rockets. The Su-27’s top speed of 1,553 mph ensures its potency in air superiority.
Sukhoi Su-37 Flanker-F – Mach 2.35+ (1,600 MPH)
A variation of the Su-27, the Su-37 Flanker-F incorporates thrust vectoring for super-maneuverability. With its twin Saturn AL-37FU afterburning engines, it can reach a top speed of 1,600 mph and endure a maximum +9g loading. This capability sets it apart as a potent force in the skies.
McDonnell Douglas F-15C – Mach 2.5 (1,650 MPH)
The F-15C boasts an impeccable air-to-air combat record, with no air-air combat losses recorded for U.S.-operated units. Its ruggedness and adaptability have allowed it to serve continuously since 1976. Equipped with Pratt And Whitney F100 series engines, the F-15C produces a combined 47,000 lbs of thrust, propelling it to a top speed of 1,650 mph.
General Dynamics F-111 ‘Aardvark’ – Mach 2.5 (1,650 MPH)
The General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark, a medium-range interdictor and tactical strike fighter, is a unique combat aircraft. With its ability to land on short runways and hunt enemies in darkness, it earned the nickname “Aardvark.” Its top speed of 1,650 mph, coupled with its low loss rates in combat, underscores its impressive capabilities.
Chengdu J-10 – Mach 2.5+ (1,687 MPH)
The Chengdu J-10 strikes a balance between the Mig-31 and F-15C Eagle, offering a maximum operational speed of 1,687 mph. Its single WS-10B afterburning turbojet produces approximately 32,000 lbs of thrust, contributing to its remarkable -3/+9 g loading capabilities.
Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig-31 Foxhound – Mach 2.83 (1,864 MPH)
Built to replace the Foxbat, the Mig-31 Foxhound rivals the Blackbird in appearance. Equipped with phased radar arrays, it can simultaneously track and engage 24 targets. The Foxhound’s top speed of 1,864 mph makes it one of the fastest fighter jets ever produced.
Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-152 – Mach 2.83+ (1880 MPH)
The Ye-152 is a lesser-known prototype from Mikoyan, boasting a single Turmansky R-15B-300 turbojet producing 22,000 lbs of afterburning thrust. Its smaller profile and operational weight allow it to achieve a top speed of 1,880 mph.
Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig-25 Foxbat – Mach 2.83 (2,190 MPH)
Renowned as the fastest fighter ever produced, the Mig-25 Foxbat was designed to intercept the SR-71 Blackbird, boasting a top speed of 2,190 mph. Pilots were cautioned against using full power/afterburners to protect its engines, which remain a testament to its remarkable speed.
Lockheed YF-12A – Mach 3.35 (2,275 MPH)
Developed from the A12 prototype alongside the SR-71 Blackbird, the YF-12A was a Mach 3+ fighter that could have outpaced the Mig-25 Foxbat with its top speed of 2,275 mph. Despite limited production, it stands as a testament to Lockheed’s engineering prowess.
In conclusion, the 15 fastest fighter jets ever built have left an indelible mark on the history of aviation and military superiority. From the Cold War era to the present, these aircraft showcase the relentless pursuit of speed and technological advancement in the field of aerial warfare. While the fast jet era may be drawing to a close, the legacy of these remarkable machines will continue to inspire future generations of aviation enthusiasts.