Top 10 fastest fighter jets in 2024

For most aviation fans, while the opulence and extravagance of private jets is something lavish dreams are made of, there’s an almost visceral feeling that fighter jets elicit from us.

Mikoyan MIG-31 Foxhound (1,900 mph)Fastest Jet Aircraft4.

Fighter jets depend on speed for survival.

In light of such a basic understanding, jet engineers are continually trying to outdo each other to release the fastest fighter plane possible.

The following is a list of the top ten fastest fighter jets in the world.

Please note that this list is ordered purely by top speed of these fighter jets.

Anyway, these are 13 fastest fighter jets as recorded publicly.

Dassault Mirage 2000 (1,453 mph)

Dassault Mirage 2000 (1,453 mph)

Editorial Team Dassault Mirage 2000

The Mirage 2000 is also a multirole fighter jet that is made in France by Dassault.

As other countries battled for air supremacy, France realized that it also needed a super plane to even the playing field.

Initially, they meant for the Mirage 2000N to be a fast attack nuclear weapon while the Mirage 2000D interdicted and engaged enemies in the air.

However, when the Mirage 2000 finally hit the air in the early ’80s, they realized that it was better equipped for fast attacks characterized by dropping precision ordinance from long distances.

The Mirage was able to approach Mach 2 speed while loaded with guided bombs and missiles.

McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II (1,472 mph)

McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II (1,472 mph)

Editorial Team F-4 Phantom II

Top Speed: 1,472 mph / 1,280 knots / 2,379 kmh at altitudeMax Range: 1,677 mi / 1,457 nmi / 2,699 km

Top Speed: 1,472 mph / 1,280 knots / 2,379 kmh at altitudeMax Range: 1,677 mi / 1,457 nmi / 2,699 km

Designed in the early ’60s, the F-4 quickly wrecked all airspeed records that were at that moment.

This two-seat, two-engine fighter jet was able to survive multiple generations of super jets, with the last one retiring in 2013.

Due to its efficiency, it became the go-to jet for the US army when it needed to show its enemies a devastating show of force at the frontlines.

Editorial Team Sukhoi Su 35 Flanker

After the Soviet Union collapsed, the Soviets were looking for ways to export their technological advancements to the world.

While awaiting the development of the Su-57, Sukhoi decided to develop an interim aircraft which would be a modernized version of the Su-27M.

This aircraft would be known as the Su-35S and is produced from 2007 to this day.

The refurbished Su-35 has a redesigned cockpit, better weapon systems and sports thrust vectoring jet engines.

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor (1500 mph)

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor (1500 mph)

Editorial Team Lockheed Martin F 22A Raptor

The development of the F-22 brought about many technological advancements in terms of stealth, aerodynamic performance, and avionics systems.

The F-22 was primarily designed to be an air superiority fighter, but being the versatile aircraft it is, can also be used as ground attack, electronic warfare and intelligence gathering capabilities.

Many people would consider the F-22 as the flagship fighter jet of the United States Air Force.

Another reason for the halted production was the focus on the newly developed F-35, and the ban on exports of this aircraft.

Editorial Team Convair F-106

Top Speed: 1,526 mph / 1,325 knots / Mach 2.3Max Flight Distance: 2,346 nmi / 2,700 mi / 4,345 km

The F-106 is among the rare breed of first-generation fighter jets.

Despite its legendary status, the F-106 would be the last fighter jet to prioritize speed over visibility in air-to-air combat.

The Phantom has better radar technology and could carry more weapons.

However, when it came to raw speed and maneuverability, the F-106 was superior.

Nonetheless, this super jet only tasted service briefly, and never saw combat officially.

It was mostly used to test the limits for what a fighter-bomber in the ’50s was truly capable of.

Editorial Team Grumman F-14 Tomcat

The Grumman F-14 was developed building on knowledge gained during the Vietnam war, where American fighters combatted against MiG fighters.

The F-14 first entered service in 1974 with the U.S. Navy, replacing the F-4 Phantom.

The F-14 proved to be a versatile fighter jet, and served in multiple roles, first and foremost as air superiority fighter and interceptor.

The aircraft served the U.S. Navy for 32 years, from 1974 to 2006, and that alone is a testament to the success of this craft.

In 2015, Iranian F-14s were reportedly flying escort for Russian bombers on air strikes in Syria.

7. Eurofighter Typhoon (1544 mph)

7. Eurofighter Typhoon (1544 mph)

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a multirole jet fighter developed in a multinational collaboration of the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy.

The Typhoon was designed to be an incredibly effective fighter in air to air combat missions.

The Typhoon takes care of aerial reconnaissance, ground strike missions and other air defense duties.

6. Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker (1600 mph)

6. Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker (1600 mph)

6. Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker (1600 mph)

6. Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker (1600 mph)

Editorial Team Sukhoi Su-27

The Su-27 is a Russian fighter jet designed by Sukhoi.

It was designed to counter the American made F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Eagle.

It is intended for air superiority missions, and proved to be a versatile fighter jet.

The Su-27 entered service in the former Soviet Union Air Force in 1985.

The main purpose was to defend the borders of the Soviet Union against American B-52 and B-1B bombers, as well as escorting Soviet Air force bombers.

The craft is produced from 1982 to this day, and is in service primarily wit the Russian Air Force, Chinese PLA Army Air Force, Uzbekistan Air and Defence Force, among others.

5. McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle (1650 mph)

5. McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle (1650 mph)

The F-15 Eagle is one of the most successful fighter jets ever built.

It has over 100 victories and no losses to its name, mostly accomplished by the Israeli Air Force.

The F-15 was originally designed purely as an air superiority fighter but the design proved versatitle enough to be developed into a strike fighter in the form of the F-15 Strike Eagle.

The F-15 Eagle surely deserves a place on the list of fastest fighter jets in the world as it has a recorded top speed of 1650 miles per hour at altitude.

4. General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark (1650 mph)

4. General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark (1650 mph)

The F-111 is definitely no pig when it comes to performance though, and is able to reach max speeds of 1650 miles per hour.

Variable wings offer higher speed and maneuverability wit heavy payloads while still retaining the ability to take off and land on shorter runways.

The F-111 was introduced in 1967 and remained in active service until 1998 in the U.S. Air Force.

Editorial Team Chengdu J-10

Top Speed: 1,687 mph / 1,466 knots / Mach 2.2 at altitudeMax Range: 2,000 mi / 1,700 nmi / 3,200 km

The Chengdu J-10 is a Chinese multirole fighter jet that NATO fondly refers to as the Firebird.

The Firebird is China’s fastest combat aircraft and thus, is a prominent figure in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

It is designed and manufactured by the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC).

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force introduced the J-10 into service in 2003, after its initial test flight in 1998.

However, after the initial tests and design changes, the J-10 was converted into a multirole aircraft.

Even though there were only 350 J-10s built, the Chengdu J-10 remains China’s fastest and most popular jet fighter.

2. Mikoyan MiG-25 Foxbat (1,900 mph)

2. Mikoyan MiG-25 Foxbat (1,900 mph)

Editorial Team The MiG-25 Foxbat

Top Speed: 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn / 3,000 kmh / M2.83 at altitudeMax Range: 1,160 mi / 1,000 nmi / 2,575 km

Top Speed: 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn / 3,000 kmh / M2.83 at altitudeMax Range: 1,160 mi / 1,000 nmi / 2,575 km

Top Speed: 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn / 3,000 kmh / M2.83 at altitudeMax Range: 1,160 mi / 1,000 nmi / 2,575 km

Top Speed: 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn / 3,000 kmh / M2.83 at altitudeMax Range: 1,160 mi / 1,000 nmi / 2,575 km

Top Speed: 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn / 3,000 kmh / M2.83 at altitudeMax Range: 1,160 mi / 1,000 nmi / 2,575 km

Top Speed: 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn / 3,000 kmh / M2.83 at altitudeMax Range: 1,160 mi / 1,000 nmi / 2,575 km

Top Speed: 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn / 3,000 kmh / M2.83 at altitudeMax Range: 1,160 mi / 1,000 nmi / 2,575 km

Top Speed: 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn / 3,000 kmh / M2.83 at altitudeMax Range: 1,160 mi / 1,000 nmi / 2,575 km

As NATO’s F-4 Phantom II was flexing its wings as the most dangerous aerial combatant in the world, the Soviet Union was in the lab cooking up a worthy adversary for the Phantom: the MiG-25 Foxbat.

As you can imagine, the Foxbat was designed for extreme speed and super-maneuverability.

The two fighter jets went toe-to-toe over Northern Vietnam, with none coming off as superior to the other.

The MiG-25 is a true engineering marvel considering its exemplary performance coupled with affordability.

1. Mikoyan MIG-31 Foxhound (1,900 mph)

Editorial Team Mikoyan MIG-31 Foxhound

Top Speed: 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn / 3,000 kmh / M2.83 at altitudeMax Range: 1,900 mi / 1,600 nmi / 3,000 kmh

The MIG-31 had everyone in utter shock back in 1977 when it reached an all-new altitude record of 123,530 feet.

Is also simultaneously set a new record for the most height reached in the least time at 115,000 feet in just 4:11:78 minutes.

Such stellar records led to the Soviet Union to adopt the Mikoyan MIG-31 as its premier jet fighter at the time.

Additionally, it was also the first among the generations of jets that were able to use radar to detect and intercept stealth fighters.

Consequently, the development of the MIG-31 marked the first strike in the new wave of air superiority contests between NATO and the Soviet Union.

This aircraft could get to altitude in record time, stay in the air for lengthy periods, lock onto both conventional and stealth crafts, and unleash long-range, radar-guided missiles.

The Russian MIG-31 is expected to remain in service until 2030.

Fastest Jet Aircraft

Below aircraft deserve a place on this list as well, even though they are not technically fighter planes.

They still are the fastest jet aircraft ever made, and the list wouldn’t be complete without them.

Editorial Team Mikoyan Ye-152

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union designed two single-engine fighter jets in a bid to claim airspeed superiority.

As such, the purpose was to see what the limits were in world air-speed records.

Sure, it could achieve dizzying speeds of up to Mach 2.8+; however, its engine reliability and combat viability left a lot to be desired.

As such, the Soviet Union figured that the Ye-150 family was better suited to having two engines rather than one.

This led to the development if the Ye-152A, which used an R-11 twin turbojet design that proved to be a lot more reliable.

3. North American XB-70 Valkyrie (2,050 mph)

3. North American XB-70 Valkyrie (2,050 mph)

Editorial Team North American XB-70 Valkyrie

Performance aside, the XB-70 has to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing fighter crafts ever designed.

Originally, the XB-70 was designed to be the most lethal manned-strategic-bomber known to man.

This involved cruise speeds of up to Mach 3 at altitudes of around 70,000 feet.

The bomber’s design not only looked good but also had an innovative wing structure that would allow it to perform as a true marvel of engineering.

Incidentally, it just so happened that the XB-70’s size and material were just what was needed for testing supersonic transport.

As a result, the XB-70’s purpose changed from that of a lethal bomber to a research aircraft.

Its initial test flights proved to be a source of invaluable information for supersonic transport designers.

Nonetheless, the XB-70 Valkyrie remains one of the baddest research aircraft ever designed.

2. The Lockheed YF-12 (2,275 mph)

2. The Lockheed YF-12 (2,275 mph)

Editorial Team The Lockheed YF-12

The Lockheed YF-12 definitely deserves its position in the jet fighter hall-of-fame as the legendary SR-71 Blackbird draws its inspiration from it.

However, there was so much secrecy shrouding the YF-12 program that people didn’t realize that it was the first actual test of stealth technology.

The YF-12’s mission was to make science-fiction a reality through attaining speeds of Mach 3+.

Nonetheless, the program was defunded, and the YF-12 was designated to be a high-altitude recon aircraft.

1. Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (2,500 mph)

1. Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (2,500 mph)

Editorial Team Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

Top Speed: 2,500 mphMax Flight Distance: 3,337 miles

Top Speed: 2,500 mphMax Flight Distance: 3,337 miles

Top Speed: 2,500 mphMax Flight Distance: 3,337 miles

Top Speed: 2,500 mphMax Flight Distance: 3,337 miles

Ask any aerospace enthusiast, and they will tell you that the SR-71 blackbird is among their most favorite fighter jets, and with good reason; it is in a class of its own.

SR-71 Blackbird – The Story of the Fastest Jet in the World

The Blackbird has not only blown away world air-speed records time and time again, but it has also won multiple awards for achievements in aeronautic design, performance, and versatility.

The SR-71 is a stealth fighter that can barely be seen, let alone hit.

The only military jet that comes close is the Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat, and even it has an incredibly difficult time keeping up with the undisputed king of fighter jets.

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Equipped with a single Pratt Whitney J-57-P-21 turbojet, it would face off against the latest generation of Soviet MiGs over the Korean Peninsula and prevail as one of the fastest jets at an astounding success rate.

This is an example of an American-made fighter jet built for speed and dog fighting.

It would go on from Korea to the jungles of Vietnam where it became the first U.S. Air Force jet fighter to engage enemy aerial jets.

They would go on to serve 25 years in the United States Air Force.

This classic is one of the fastest fighter jet aircraft, and a great start to this list.

Max Flight Distance: 2,235 miles at 610 mph with internal fuel

Someone has to protect the strategic air bombers as they move deep into enemy territory.

That was the main thought when the United States Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force commissioned McDonnell-Douglas to build a supersonic long-range bomber escort jet.

While the F-100 became the premier supersonic air-to-air fighter, the F-101 would undergo many transformations.

The Air Force saw its potential grow from a long-range fighter escort to a strategic fighter-bomber.

Pushed into the sky in 1957, the Voodoo immediately went on to set a world record for supersonic flight at a blistering 1,208 mph.

Because it was equipped with two Pratt Whitney J57-variant turbojets, the F-101 Voodoo could quickly accelerate past the speed of sound.

This made it a hard target for MiGs patrolling the air across Northern Vietnam.

Only one RF-101C was lost to air-to-air encounters, and its design influenced and accelerated the production of the F-4 Phantom.

With a top speed of 1,134 mph, it didn’t take long for it to get to hot spots in Vietnam.

As of September 1, the F-35 Lightning II surpassed 40,000 combined flight hours between F-35 military fleet aircraft and System Development and Demonstration (SDD) test aircraft.

Hailed as America’s next gen wave of stealth multirole jet fighters, the F-35 Lightning II borrows its name from an older generation of fighter aircraft that served in WWII.

With a top speed of Mach 1.6, this single pilot jet fighter promises to bring high maneuverability matched with stunning versatility in mission parameters.

The F-35 is fifth-generation and speed isn’t its purpose, yet it’s still a contender for fastest fighter jet.

The British launched their first transonic jet in 1954 – moving faster than 1,000 mph for the first time in recorded history.

However, this experimental aircraft was never meant to fight toe-to-toe with the big dog.

It was designed purely to test the limits of what was available for transonic and supersonic flight.

The Farey Delta II accomplished its mission, setting a world record for fastest flight.

That record didn’t last long and only two of the Farey Delta IIs ever made it into the air.

The supersonic technology developed in creating the Delta IIs was later used to create the Concorde supersonic transport jet, which would push the envelope for moving passengers and cargo across the Atlantic.

The United States isn’t alone in its development of next-gen, multi-role, stealth-capable jet fighters.

Russia is currently producing its take on the future of aircraft to replace its aging fleet of Su-27s.

It’s designed to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the F-35 Lightning II.

Once deployed, it has general flight characteristics that are similar or on-par with the fleet of next gen fighters being produced by NATO and its allies.

When every jet fighter coming off the assembly line was eyeballed for both air-to-air interception as well as strategic nuclear payload delivery, there had to be some sacrifices.

By 1958, it was scorching previous speed records with a blistering and sustained Mach 2+ speed of 1,404 mph.

Unfortunately it was developed in an age where Surface-to-Air missile technology was taking off.

The final F-104 Starfighter was retired in 2004 from the Italian Air Force, and its service would usher into the production of the F-4 Phantom.

A KC-130J, assigned to the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, refuels a Dassault Mirage 2000-5 assigned to French forces as part of a refueling training mission Nov. 22, 2012.

Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes, U.S. Air Force

When France realized it needed a super fast attack jet to counter other nations’ air supremacy options, Dassault created the Mirage 2000N and 2000D.

The Mirage 2000N was meant to be their fast attack nuclear option and the Mirage 2000D was intended for interdiction and engaging enemy air.

By the time it hit the air in the early 1980s, the Mirage 2000 was less of a Cold War deterrent against Soviet MiGs and Sukhois and more of a fast attack aircraft for dropping precision ordinance at long-range distances.

It could approach Mach 2 speeds while carrying a dizzying assortment of guided bombs and air-to-air missiles.

The fastest fighter jet is yet to be revealed, but we just love this Dassault Mirage

The F-4 was the workhorse fighter bomber for both the Air Force and the Navy during the Vietnam War, primarily providing close air support.

Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot, U.S. Air Force

Two seats, two engines, and a notorious reputation for wrecking air records, the F-4 Phantom II is when the United States began to take a heavy interest in not just outrunning the competition in the air, but dog-fighting them, too.

This shows how reliable and dependable this fast-moving Mach 2+ fighter-bomber was.

As one of the fastest jets ever made, it held its own over the rough jungles of Vietnam and served well into more contemporary conflicts as a trusted high-performance aircraft.

Because this was the second generation of jet fighters produced by the United States, the F-4s wasted little time getting sent to the front lines.

There they proved to be a hearty breed of fast-moving jet fighters that could bring much needed close air support to ground forces and still go toe-to-toe with the Soviet’s MiGs. Pilots complained the F-4 could be a little boxy, earning it one of many nicknames as the “Flying Footlocker”; however, it became a trusted name in aerospace history.

The F-4 Phantom II holds quite a few records, including being the aircraft of the last American ace in 1972.

These Phantoms saw their official retirement from the USAF in 1996 after a long history in the Idaho Air National Guard.

Amongst a litany of first generation fighter jet aircraft, the F-106 proved to be one of the last that would prioritize speed over air-to-air combat visibility.

Advancements in radar technology, the ability to carry more missiles, and better pilot visibility made the F-4 Phantom a superior choice.

But, when it came to raw speed and maneuverability, the F-106 showed a lot of promise as one of the fastest jets.

The Convair F-106 had a brief record of service, never officially saw combat, and would mostly be used to test the envelope of what was capable for fighter-bomber platforms in the late 1950s.

In terms of a maximum speed, it definitely held its own at a scorching hot Mach 2.3 record of 1,525 mph.

Royal Air Force

Across Europe, there was a need for an affordable, reliable multirole jet fighter that could be scrambled quickly in response to an escalating emergency.

Entering service in 1994, it saw its first combat debut in 2011 and is still used by many NATO European allies as a premier interdiction aircraft.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine turbojet aircraft capable of sustaining Mach 2 and above.

A Chinese Su-27 Flanker (J-11) fighter makes a fly by while the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, visits with members of the Chinese Air Force at Anshan Airfield, China, March 24, 2007.

Myles Cullen, U.S. Air Force

NATO’s greatest contemporary contender for air superiority is the Russian-made Su-27.

Between it and the Mikoyan MiG-29, the Flanker was a beautiful antagonist to NATO forces.

It’s scheduled to be replaced by a next generation of Sukhoi PAK FA T-50s but it will always hold a coveted role for speed, combat maneuverability, and sophisticated avionics.

The Su-27 stands out in the minds of avionics engineers so much that the Chinese officially licensed their own version with the Shenyang J-11, which promises to continue the legacy of modified fourth-generation jet fighters that were as versatile over the sea as land.

The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years.

Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis, U.S. Air Force

Super fast, this twin-engine fighter-bomber third generation jet aircraft could pull off deft, high-G maneuvers and still have fuel left over to hit all its objectives.

At high altitude, it can travel at an amazing Mach 2.5 and still maintain a combat effective range of 1,222 miles.

This Eagle is far from being grounded even while next gen multirole fighters like the F-35 eye its coveted role in USAF air superiority.

In fact, with the F-22 program currently doing loops on the ground, the F-15 is projected to remain in the fleet for quite some time.

With precisely zero losses due to enemy air activity, it’s a multirole fighter that has withstood the test of time.

Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound

The MiG-31 Foxhound hit new highs in aerospace world records when it smashed a max altitude record of 123,520 feet back in 1977.

It also set a new record for time to height – 115,000 feet in 4:11.78 minutes.

Consequently, the MiG-31 showed a lot of promise for the Soviet Union for a new generation of fighter jet aircraft.

It was also a first generation of aircraft capable of using its radar to detect and intercept stealth aircraft.

The Foxhound marked the introduction into a new wave of air superiority contests between the Soviet Union and NATO.

It could very quickly get to altitude, sustain a long time in the air, lock onto conventional and stealth air targets, and deliver long-range, radar-guided missiles.

This effectively changed the face of the air contest.

The Foxhound is still in service by Russia and is expected to remain in the air until 2030.

In the dead heat for air speed superiority during the Cold War, the Soviet Union developed two single-engine test fighters.

Their purpose was to see how far they could push their own envelope when it came to world records.

The Ye-152 seemed like a promising chance for the Soviet Union to catch up to fighter craft like the F-100, F-101, and the F-106.

With a maximum achieved speed of Mach 2.8+, it definitely had pure velocity in its corner.

However, with engine reliability and combat viability both proverbially up in the air, the Ye-152 went no further than simply making the world record charts for fastest jets in 1959.

The Soviet Union would eventually figure out that in the Ye-150 family, two engines may be better than one.

The Ye-152A used a much more reliable R-11 twin turbojet design, which enabled it to withstand the stresses of sustained supersonic flight much better.

XB-70A parked on a ramp at Edwards Air Force Base in 1967.

Originally designed as a Mach 3 bomber, the XB-70A never went into production and instead was used for flight research involving the Air Force and NASA’s Flight Research Center FRC, which was a predecessor of today’s NASA Dryden Flight Research Center.

The outboard portions of the wing were hinged so they could be folded down for improved high-speed stability.

The XB-70 Valkyrie is an impressive military aircraft whose legacy would wind up being something totally different than what it set out to accomplish.

The Valkyrie was originally built to be the baddest manned strategic bomber ever known.

It was an exciting concept with a planned cruise speed of Mach 3 at altitudes of around 70,000 feet.

The design not only looked cool, the wing structure is what theoretically would make the aircraft preform so well.

Thus its purpose was then officially changed from manned bomber to research aircraft.

It’s early test flights provided a lot of valuable information for SST designers, including aircraft noise and the reliability of wind tunnel predictions versus actual flight findings.

Unfortunately, there were two casualties during the testing of this aircraft, which complicated the program.

Right as the F-4 Phantom II was just getting its proverbial wings underneath it, the Soviet Union had its own competitor to air superiority in mind: the MiG-25 Foxbat.

It was designed as a pure speed, super-maneuverable supersonic interceptor.

The F-4 Phantom II was the latest the Air Force had for air superiority aircraft and it was literally toe-to-toe with these new MiG-25s over Northern Vietnam.

In terms of competition for speed in the air, the only aircraft that had the Foxbat licked was the SR-71 Blackbird – a coveted reconnaissance asset during the 1970s and 80s.

This was the experimental Lockheed Martin aircraft that would go on to influence the design of the highly successful and versatile SR-71 Blackbird.

Designed back in the early 60s, it proved to be an “out of the box” platform that absolutely smashed all previously held records for flight speed.

Shrouded in secrecy, many people forget that the origins of this program were the very first for actual stealth technology.

Capable of high altitude missions at an incredible Mach 3.35 speed, this supersonic jet fighter was meant to bring futuristic sci-fi capabilities to the contemporary present.

The SR-71 would go on to serve quite famously as a high altitude reconnaissance aircraft.

Lockheed Martin broke the mold when it created this space-age, high-altitude stealth aircraft.

Originally developed under the YF-12 interceptor program, the SR-71 Blackbird absolutely smashed world records for air speed time and time again.

As a reconnaissance aircraft with no communications uplink, it had a very limited role in strategic surveillance.

Crushing a maximum speed record of 2,500 mph, the SR-71 Blackbird could skirt the very edge of the atmosphere at 85,000 feet.

Awarded multiple distinctions for achievements in aeronautic design, performance, and versatility, this stealth aircraft could barely be seen and never hit.

The Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat was the only aircraft in service that could approach catching up to the SR-71 and even it had a very difficult time trailing behind this legendary stealth aircraft.

Max Flight Distance: 3,337 miles on internal fuel

Max Flight Distance: 3,337 miles on internal fuel

Max Flight Distance: 3,337 miles on internal fuel

Max Flight Distance: 3,337 miles on internal fuel

Max Flight Distance: 3,337 miles on internal fuel

Max Flight Distance: 3,337 miles on internal fuel

Max Flight Distance: 3,337 miles on internal fuel

Max Flight Distance: 3,337 miles on internal fuel

Max Flight Distance: 3,337 miles on internal fuel

Max Flight Distance: 3,337 miles on internal fuel

Max Flight Distance: 3,337 miles on internal fuel

Max Flight Distance: 3,337 miles on internal fuel

Max Flight Distance: 3,337 miles on internal fuel

Max Flight Distance: 3,337 miles on internal fuel

U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force

The advantage of modern technology is not having to risk an actual pilot’s life to test the utter barriers of new scramjet Wave Rider technology.

The Wave Rider is the lovechild of DARPA, the United States Air Force, and several other bleeding edge aeronautic programs.

It’s an unmanned aerial craft meant to be deployed in air, much like how the North American X-15 was deployed from the back of a B-52 Stratofortress.

Capable of recorded speeds above the Mach 5 mark, this highly experimental craft is designed to be pushed into service around 2030 – where it will ideally serve as a platform for a fast-attack missile.

Max Flight Distance: 460 miles

Max Flight Distance: 460 miles

Max Flight Distance: 460 miles

Furthering the pursuits of space travel, NASA has breached the limits of what is currently the fastest recorded air travel with the fastest jet.

The X-43 breached the Mach 9.6 barrier in an unmanned flight.

High velocity travel was possible by using a booster rocket to get to the right speed and altitude.

The X-43 program has come under a lot of scrutiny in terms of design and expenditure but it has ultimately solved the question of “how fast?” As with all experimental “X” designators, the X-43 is designed to push the limits further than previous testing has allowed.

Scramjet technology began development in the 1950s, but there is still a lot to be learned.

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

Top Speed: 6,598 mph

With the SR-71 long retired, and the X-15 having stopped flying during the 1960s, the quickest aircraft flying today are fighter jets.

But which fighter aircraft is the fastest?

First, let’s take a brief look at what is meant when we refer to the speed of an aircraft.

The speeds reported in this list have usually been achieved during test flights involving special test aircraft in clean configuration (carrying no weapons or external fuel tanks).

These tests show what the aircraft are capable of.

However, in their day-to-day operations the jets tend to fly significantly slower.

The top speeds are also usually measured at an optimal altitude, typically above 30,000 ft (9,000 m), and many of the aircraft mentioned below are much slower when flying at lower altitudes.

Additionally, this list only contains fighter aircraft that are currently in service.

The General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark, the Panavia Tornado ADV, and the Convair F-106 Delta Dart among other jets have already been retired and have not been included here.

The same applies to the Lockheed YF-12, the fighter related to the legendary SR-71 Blackbird.

While it is the fastest fighter jet to ever exist, it was an experimental aircraft that never reached service.

A lot of the jets currently in service have the top speed of Mach 2 (between 2,100-2,200 km/h / 1,300-1,360 mph 1,100-1,150 knots).

Honorary mentions: Mach 2.05-2.2 fighters 

Honorary mentions: Mach 2.05-2.2 fighters 

While some of the most popular aircraft can reach speeds slightly higher than Mach 2, this is not enough to make the cut.

These aircraft include: 

The Phantom is one of the most famous Cold War jets.

While it has been retired by most of its operators, the air forces of Turkey, Greece, South Korea and Iran still fly the aircraft.

Notable for its un-aerodynamic shape, the F-4 can reach high speeds thanks to the raw power of General Electric J79 engines, invoking a saying popular among Phantom pilots and fans alike: “a brick can fly if you stick a big enough engine on it”.

VanderWolf Images /

Top speed: Mach 2.25 (2,414 kmh / 1,500 mph 1,303 kn at 40,000 ft / 12,000 m) 

The F-22 is the first fifth-generation fighter, and the only stealth aircraft to be included on this list.

The US Air Force remains its only operator.

Despite being very fast at high altitudes, many of the older jets on this list can barely break the sound barrier while flying low.

But the F-22 is different: it can fly faster than Mach 1.2 at sea level and reach high speeds even with full armament, which does not cause additional drag due to being stored in internal weapons bays.

Supercruise is a signature tactic of fifth-generation fighter jets and leads to greater fuel economy and longer ranges, as afterburners are very fuel-hungry.

Anatoliy Lukich /

This aircraft is currently operated by Colombia, Sri Lanka and private military corporation Textron.

Its numerous upgrades include the General Electric J79-J1E turbojet engine which is considerably more powerful than the Mirage 5’s original SNECMA Atar 9C.

There are some conflicting reports that indicate that the Kfir’s top speed is a more modest Mach 2.

Furthermore, since the existing Kfir airframes are quite old, there is a chance that the aircraft can no longer achieve these speeds.

However, much of the available information indicates that the Kfir’s top speed is Mach 2.3.

It also suggests that the model has likely reached this speed in the past, which is why AeroTime has included the aircraft in its ranking.

Designed in the Soviet Union as a lighter counterpart to the Sukhoi Su-27 and a response to the F-16, the MiG-29 has been widely exported and is currently in the inventory of Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, Poland, India and many other countries.

Despite often being described as a rival to the F-16, the MiG-29 mainly performed the role of point-defense interceptor and, as such, had a relatively small range and high speed.

The aircraft has some limitations, though, and it can’t go supersonic while carrying a fuel tank.

Nevertheless, a clean MiG-29 is said to be capable of reaching Mach 1.2 at sea level.

IanC66 /

The F-14 is the world’s first fourth-generation fighter jet, designed primarily as a naval fighter for the US Navy.

Retired by the USN in favor of the F/A-18, the F-14 is currently operated by only the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force.

Some reports suggest a clean F-14 could reach an even higher speed of Mach 2.5, although this claim has not been confirmed.

Shahram Sharifi / Wikipedia

Another swing-wing fighter, the MiG-23 was designed in the early 1960s and is still operated by North Korea, Syria, Ethiopia and several other countries.

Built as an interceptor, the MiG-23 is far less maneuverable than newer fourth-generation jets and has relatively poor low-altitude performance.

Nevertheless, it was an extremely sophisticated jet for the late 60s and remains one of the most iconic Soviet aircraft of the Cold War.

The Su-27 was one of the most prolific late-Cold War jets, giving rise to an entire family of aircraft that includes the Su-30, the Su-34, the Su-35, the J-11, and J-16 among others.

It is one of the most widely operated aircraft in the world.

A number of models, derived from the Su-27, have often been described as having top speeds between Mach 2 and Mach 2.35, although the most recent variants are unlikely to be as fast.

Unlike some other fourth-generation jets, the Su-27 can’t reach Mach 1.2 at sea level, and with external ordinance its top speed is also significantly lower.

However, it was not intended to work as a dedicated interceptor, and high speeds at a high altitude are more of a byproduct of this aircraft’s powerful engines, designed to give it high payload capacity and acceleration.

AMMHPhotography /

Probably one of the most well-known US-made aircraft, the F-15 is operated by the USAF, Israel, Japan, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

The jet was developed as a response to the MiG-25 interceptor (which makes an appearance later in this list).

While the Eagle is slightly slower than the aircraft it was designed to rival, the American jet makes up for this by also having tremendous low-speed maneuverability.

It is also the only fighter jet to ever shoot down a space satellite, and the only one to experience no air-to-air losses while scoring over 100 aerial victories.

U.S. Air Force photo

U.S. Air Force photo

Top speed: Mach 2.83 (3,000 km/h / 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn at 70,538 ft / 21,500 m) 

Top speed: Mach 2.83 (3,000 km/h / 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn at 70,538 ft / 21,500 m) 

Top speed: Mach 2.83 (3,000 km/h / 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn at 70,538 ft / 21,500 m) 

Top speed: Mach 2.83 (3,000 km/h / 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn at 70,538 ft / 21,500 m) 

Top speed: Mach 2.83 (3,000 km/h / 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn at 70,538 ft / 21,500 m) 

Top speed: Mach 2.83 (3,000 km/h / 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn at 70,538 ft / 21,500 m) 

Top speed: Mach 2.83 (3,000 km/h / 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn at 70,538 ft / 21,500 m) 

Top speed: Mach 2.83 (3,000 km/h / 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn at 70,538 ft / 21,500 m) 

The performance of the two aircraft is actually similar, except for the fact that the MiG-31 has superior sensors, electronics and armament.

The MiG-31 was initially designed to be more adaptable than the MiG-25, offering several variants, including a multirole fighter, a bomber and a reconnaissance aircraft.

These variants were later scrapped but plans to produce them still resulted in the MiG-31 having a decent low-level performance.

The aircraft can reach Mach 1.25 at sea level, something earlier interceptors were incapable of doing.

The MiG-31 is primarily operated by Russia’s Aerospace Forces, although Kazakhstan also has a small number of these jets.

Of the more than 500 MiG-31s manufactured, fewer than 100 currently remain operational.

However, despite many modernizations, the aircraft does have problems that severely limit its speed.

During parliamentary hearings in 2013, Victor Bondarev, head of the Russian Aerospace Forces, explained that the MiG-31’s new cockpit glass, which provides better visibility, has also limited the aircraft’s speed to Mach 1.5.

But the jet might not need to rely on faster speeds due to its vastly expanded modern armament, which includes hypersonic missiles.

Mach 2.83 (3,000 km/h / 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn at 70,538 ft / 21,500 m) 

Designed in the late 1960s the MiG-25 was arguably the most feared fighter jet of the Cold War, and is responsible for the US scrambling to develop the F-15.

However, whether the MiG-25 can really be considered operational is debatable.

Retired in almost all countries that had it, the MiG-25 officially remains in the arsenal of just one country: Syria, where it has been grounded for years, according to multiple reports.

However, it has since gone on to officially retire the aircraft.

However, at least theoretically, the MiG-25 remains the fastest operational fighter jet.

It broke numerous records and reached the speed surpassed by no other airbreathing jet except for the SR-71 and its derivatives.

The MiG-25 was designed first and foremost as a high-altitude interceptor.

Just like many other aircraft of this type, it had poor maneuverability and could not break the sound barrier at sea level while carrying missiles.

Rob Schleiffert / Wikipedia

Rob Schleiffert / Wikipedia

This ranking includes speeds reached by test aircraft.

But what about deployed jets?

With the MiG-25 having been practically retired, and the MiG-31 facing a speed limit of Mach 1.5 imposed by the latest modernizations, the F-15 is technically the fastest fighter jet in service in terms of currently deployed aircraft.

Its latest variant, the F-15EX, is officially faster than any variant of the next fastest jet, the Su-27.

Some reports have claimed that the F-15EX reached the speed of Mach 2.4 during testing, although this information has not been officially confirmed.

Boeing also claims that the top speed of the F-15EX is Mach 2.4.

Why modern jets don’t need to be very fast?

You may have noticed that most jets on this list are rather old.

Meanwhile, the latest generation, except for the F-22, is rarely reported as capable of reaching even Mach 2.

Fast speeds have long stopped being a subject of bragging rights for aircraft manufacturers, and the newest aircraft are indeed, on average, significantly slower than their predecessors.

This is because speed stopped being as important in air combat and was sacrificed in favor of maneuverability, stealth, and fuel efficiency among other factors.

Studies have shown that fighters rarely reach speeds of more than Mach 1.2 during real air combat, and higher speeds are only important for long-range interceptions, a role that the top aircraft on this list, the F-15 and the MiG-31, are perfectly capable of fulfilling.

New medium- and long-range missiles further the speed advantage.

As a result, Cold War-era interceptors remain the fastest jets ever designed, and the newest aircraft are, in comparison, very slow.

How fighter jets lost their speed | Data

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