Throughout the history of military aviation, speed was a key consideration when designing an Aircraft. While modern fighter jets prioritize stealth over speed for practical reasons, speed is still a big selling point for an aircraft. However, the fact remains that modern military aircraft are slower than their predecessors.
Aside from resources and space being allocated to stealth and electronic warfare systems, there’s also the fact that the newer aircraft don’t really need to be as fast. Being faster may be useful in a dogfight, but the days of fighter aircraft engaging in close-quarters aerial combat are probably over.
The stealth, as mentioned above, combined with fire-and-forget missiles means that an aircraft will shoot down its adversary from a safe distance without being detected.
Another benefit of speed is being able to “outrun” the enemy’s anti-air missiles. Still, with modern interception methods, even legendary aircraft like SR-71 would no longer be able to survive in a modern conflict. So instead of relying on speed, modern jet aircraft are better off relying on stealth and not being detected altogether.
In this article, we have compiled a list of the fastest aircraft currently in service today.
MiG-23 Flogger – 1,553 mph
Easily the most unique aircraft on the list, thanks to its variable-sweep wing design, the fighter first flew in 1967 and ceased production in 1985. While it is heavily outdated, this old bird is still in service in countries Angola, Cuba, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and more.
With its single Khatchaturov R-35-300 turbojets engine, it’s capable of reaching speeds of up to 1,553 mph. The Aircraft, however, is infamously terrible; some even go as far as to call it the worst mass-produced fighter of all times. Moreover, its exotic wing design led to many landing accidents, earning it a less pleasant title.
Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker – 1,600 mph
First flown in 1977 the Su-27 is still among the best Russian fighter aircraft. It was designed to counter the American F-15. However, throughout the decades, the two aircraft never fought, largely because the Su-27 wasn’t as popular in the international market as the cheaper Russian MiG-29, plenty of which were shot down by the F-15.
Still, the Flanker is a very capable aircraft. Its twin engines can accelerate it to speeds as high as 1,600 mph, all while carrying a wide range of bombs, missiles, and rockets on ten hardpoints.
The Aircraft and its variants like the Su-30 are used by a number of countries, including Ukraine, Armenia, and Vietnam. China also produces its own version of the aircraft called J-11.
3. MiG-31 Foxhound – 1,860 mph
MiG-31 was an interesting aircraft because it was developed from a MiG-25, but it was slower than its predecessor. This shows that at some point, engineers realized there was no longer any need to chase high speeds; instead, it’s better to improve on other capabilities and efficiency.
It can achieve a speed of 1,860 mph thanks to its two immensely powerful Soloviev D-30F6 turbofan engines.
There are only two countries that still use these aircraft, and those are Russia and Kazakhstan.
2. McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle – 1,875 mph
The Eagle is among the best (maybe the best) Aircraft in aviation history. It proudly holds a 104-0 record. With its recent modernizations (F-15EX), it is still a very formidable aircraft, second to only 5th generation jets, and even then, it may rival the Russian Su-57 and the Chinese J-20.
The Aircraft is also known for its high speed; the F100-PW-220 turbofan engines allow it to reach speeds of up to 1,875 mph.
While it is not as common outside of the U.S. as its sister, the F-16 and the Eagles, are still used by six other countries outside of America, namely Japan, Israel, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Qatar.
1. MiG-25 Foxbat – 2,170 mph
If you thought that MiG-31s speed was impressive, wait till you see its older sister, the Mig-25. It was designed with a specific task in mind, to chase that darn fast SR-71 out of Soviet skies. It wasn’t faster than the Blackbird, which could fly at speeds as high as 2,200 mph, but it got pretty close.
With its two Tumansky R-15B-300 turbojet engines, it reached an astounding speed of 2,170 mph, which wasn’t enough to catch up with the SR-71, but it didn’t keep the Foxbat from trying. There were a few instances of missiles being fired at a Blackbird from a MiG-25, but they never managed to hit the American aircraft.
The Algerian Air force still uses MiG-25.