Modern aircraft are capable of flying very fast. By "fast" I mean not speeds 10 times faster than a car, but really FAST. Even without afterburner, modern fighters can easily overcome the speed of sound. Passenger aviation has long flown at supersonic speeds. It was possible, but expensive, therefore (including) flights and stopped about 20 years ago. All this is good, but if you delve into history and archival documents, you can find several planes that flew not just at supersonic, but at hypersonic, that is, several times faster than the speed of sound. How is it even possible, what happened to them and do they exist now? After all, speed is important in everything these days, especially in combat. In addition, prompt delivery of cargo and passengers to anywhere in the world is important. So what's with the fastest plane in the world?
How fast do the fastest planes fly?
In fact, the list that we will discuss today does not include all aircraft that can develop tremendous speed. This is due to the fact that some of them are secret , while others often existed only on paper, or its samples cannot be considered finished products.
Regardless, I will tell you about a sufficient number of aircraft that are simply breathtaking and of great interest in terms of technology. As usual, let's arrange them in order of increasing speed, so that it really looks like a rating.
Гонка за скоростью уже давно прекратилась. Пусть современные самолеты вроде СУ-57 и F-35 могу разгоняться до нескольких скоростей звука, но сейчас важнее радиолокационная невидимость. А несколько тысяч километров в час - пустая трата топлива.
General Dynamics F-111 – fast bomber
This aircraft cannot be called anything outstanding in terms of speed. It barely surpassed the passenger Concorde (about which I have already written a large detailed article ) and TU-144, which could reach speeds of about 2200-2400 kilometers per hour.
However, the Aardvark, as the F-111 was also called, could reach twice the speed of sound in flight. Its maximum speed was 2 645 kilometers per hour . At that time, this was a good speed, which made it possible to successfully carry out many military operations.
Скорость звука (распространения звуковой волны) сильно зависит от среды, в которой она измеряется. Чем плотнее среда, тем выше скорость звука. То есть на большой высоте и при разряженном воздухе она ниже, чем у поверхности земли. Для простоты принято считать, что скорость звука составляет примерно 330 метров в секунду (примерно 1200 километров в час). Все это очень примерно, но для понимания масштаба величин этого достаточно
The first samples entered service with the 4480th US Tactical Fighter Squadron in October 1967. During the service, more than 10 aircraft were lost only according to official data.
In 1996, they were withdrawn from the US Air Force, and during this time they managed to take part in some operations of the Vietnam War, in Operation Eldorado Canyon (an attack on Gaddafi's residence in Libya), in Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, and others military action.
Чем отличаются крылатые и баллистические ракеты и какие они ещё бывают?
McDonnell Douglas F-15 "Eagle" – the most famous fighter
This aircraft is considered a striking representative of its time and fourth generation fighters. Such aircraft are called all-weather tactical fighters capable of gaining air superiority.
The aircraft entered service with the American army back in 1976 and during the service managed to take part in dozens of operations in the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and even Yugoslavia. The track record of the machine is huge, and how many times these planes took to the air to carry out secret combat missions or to intercept unidentified air targets cannot be counted at all.
In total, as many as 22 modifications of this aircraft were created, designed for different tasks. The maximum speed of the aircraft is 2650 kilometers per hour .
MiG-31 – two-seat fighter
This aircraft was originally designed as a supersonic fighter-interceptor for flights in any weather. In the end, they did it. This is a long-range aircraft, which has several modifications for different conditions of use.
История самого известного самолета в мире и почему Конкорд больше не летает
It is noteworthy that this particular aircraft was the first combat aircraft of the fourth generation in the USSR. The range of its application is very high. It is capable of intercepting any air targets at high, medium, low and extremely low altitudes. Even heat traps and artificially created radar interference shouldn't be a problem for him.
The crew is two people. This machine is capable of accelerating up to 3000 kilometers per hour , which leaves no chance for an enemy aircraft. Of course, unless he goes further on our list.
Самолеты с вертикальным взлетом. Как они работают и зачем нужны
MiG-25 – supersonic interceptor
The decision to design the MiG 25 was made on the basis that the Soviet Union did not have an aircraft that could fly at very high altitudes and at very high speeds. Moreover, intelligence has come from overseas that the Americans are preparing new means of attack – the Valkyrie supersonic bomber, the Navajo missile and the A12 reconnaissance aircraft. Looking ahead, it turned out that the Valkyrie was too expensive and was abandoned, the Navajo was simply unsuccessful, and the A-12 later changed its index to SR-71, but also did not achieve much fame. However, we will return to it in this article.
The MiG-25 was put into service in 1972 as a modification of the MiG-25P (P-interceptor). It had 4 R-40 air-to-air missiles under its wings. A little later, the MiG-25R (R-reconnaissance) appeared. He had no weapons, except for two powerful cameras for surveying the area. Even later, a modification of the MiG-29RB (reconnaissance, bomber) appeared. He, in addition to reconnaissance, could carry bombs for dropping into enemy territory. Even the delivery of nuclear bombs was allowed.
The characteristics of the aircraft did not imply the performance of aerobatics on it, but the pilots did it anyway, and the management even encouraged them. It was made, unlike other aircraft, not of aluminum, but of steel. This was the only way to effectively resist heating when rubbing against air at maximum speed. In general, the car could climb 22,500 meters and cover up to 2,000 kilometers. In total, about 1,000 MiG-25s of various modifications were produced. Its maximum speed was 3,300 kilometers per hour .
SR-71 "Blackbird" – black bird
This aircraft formally served as the reason for the creation of the MiG-25, but in itself it was no less interesting. It is a strategic supersonic reconnaissance aircraft of the United States Air Force. For his time, he flew pretty damn fast – over 3,700 kilometers per hour .
The dry weight of the aircraft is 27 tons, and the maximum take-off weight is 77 tons. This is not surprising, reading how much fuel he had to take on board. He flew very quickly and even violated the borders of the USSR several times. The command thought that such actions would go unpunished. As a result of one of these flights, he was shot down and the flights were stopped. Nobody wanted to give such a plane, albeit destroyed, to the enemy. It was too valuable information and very big risks for the opportunity to photograph the territory of the country near the border.
North American X-15 – can a plane fly into space
This aircraft accelerated to a fantastic 7,300 kilometers per hour , but it cannot be called serial. It was an experimental aircraft. This type of machine is also called a "rocket plane". Its design uses no longer aircraft jet engines, but rocket engines.
The X-15 was not created for military operations or reconnaissance, but for studying the behavior of equipment at hypersonic speed. He also helped carry out research on the withdrawal of winged vehicles into the upper atmosphere and back in. So far, this is the only aircraft that has completed a suborbital space flight with pilots and returned. In general, the ceiling of this "contraption" was a height of 107,000 meters. It was to this altitude that the North American X-15, piloted by Joseph Walker, a NASA test pilot and unofficial astronaut, climbed twice in 1963.
3700 километров в час. Virgin Galactic показала концепт сверхзвукового пассажирского самолета
Orbital Sciences Corporation X-34 – airplane speed record
We continue to go up and down and one more plane, which looks more like a rocket, but formally is exactly an airplane, since it adheres to its control principles and has load-bearing wings. This aircraft no longer had pilots on board; it rose into the air “under the belly” of the carrier aircraft. But during tests in 2004, it accelerated to 11,000 kilometers per hour over the Pacific Ocean.
It was originally planned that the device will be able to gain 12,200 kilometers per hour, but it did not work out. In terms of design, the aircraft itself is not very large and has a length of only 17.78 meters, and a wingspan of 8.85 meters. A solid propellant engine is responsible for the movement, on the production of which a quarter of a billion dollars were spent, and on testing – 7 years.
The plane cannot climb too high, although 75 kilometers is already more than an impressive figure .
Virgin Orbit не смогла запустить ракету с самолета — что с ней стало?
Boeing X-43 is the fastest aircraft in the world
This aircraft only slightly surpassed the results of the previous aircraft, but there should be only one winner. The Boeing X-43 has reached a speed that is about 9.5 times the speed of sound – 11,230 kilometers per hour . The project also cost a quarter of a billion dollars, but its implementation took 10 years.
The Boeing X-43 is also a drone and not very big. The wingspan is only 1.5 meters and the length is only 3.6 meters. There is no need to talk about the practical application of such an aircraft . It was also created as a flying laboratory.
It is interesting that there are no rubbing parts in its design. The fuel for it is a mixture of oxygen and hydrogen, which in its exhaust gives just water vapor . The plane had to show that such speeds are possible, and also that it is possible to use alternative fuels.
He also had to show that the times when an airplane can fly to anywhere in the world in 2-3 hours have almost come.
Which plane did you like the most on our list? My favorite is the MiG-25. I especially like its angular, austere appearance. I'm even ready to write a separate article about him and maybe someday I will, but for now, express your opinion in the comments or in our Telegram chat .