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. The speed and raw tenacity that these beasts of the sky have while in action is something to behold.
Table of Contents
- 13. Dassault Mirage 2000 (1,453 mph)
- 12. McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II (1,472 mph)
- 11. Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E (1500 mph)
- 10. Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor (1500 mph)
- 9. Convair F-106 (1,526 mph)
- 8. Grumman F-14 Tomcat (1544 mph)
- 7. Eurofighter Typhoon (1544 mph)
- 6. Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker (1600 mph)
- 5. McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle (1650 mph)
- 4. General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark (1650 mph)
- 3. Chengdu J-10 (1,687 mph)
- 2. Mikoyan MiG-25 Foxbat (1,900 mph)
- 1. Mikoyan MIG-31 Foxhound (1,900 mph)
Fighter jets depend on speed for survival. If your craft doesn’t move as fast as the enemy’s, there can be grave consequences. 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. It does not reflect on other factors such as maneuverability or age.
Also note that the performance numbers are often released by official government channels, which may have an agenda… I’ll leave it at that. Anyway, these are 13 fastest fighter jets as recorded publicly.
13. Dassault Mirage 2000 (1,453 mph)
- Top Speed: 1,453 mph / 1,261 knots / 2,336 kmh at altitude
- Max Range: 960 mi / 840 nmi / 1,550 km
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. This is what led to the creation of the Mirage 2000N and 2000D.
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.
12. McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II (1,472 mph)
- Top Speed: 1,472 mph / 1,280 knots / 2,379 kmh at altitude
- Max Range: 1,677 mi / 1,457 nmi / 2,699 km
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is truly the stuff of legend. From its battles in Vietnam to modern-day warfare, the F-4 has proven itself to be a worthy adversary.
Designed in the early ’60s, the F-4 quickly wrecked all airspeed records that were at that moment. Not only was it efficient at outrunning enemy jets, but also at outfighting them as well.
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.
11. Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E (1500 mph)
- Top Speed: 1,500 mph / 1,300 kn / 2,400 kmh / M2.25 at altitude
- Max Range: 2,200 mi / 1,900 nmi / 3,600 km
The Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E is improved development of the Su-27. Originally it was known ad the Su-27M. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the Soviets were looking for ways to export their technological advancements to the world. They decided to rebrand the aircraft as Su-35.
The Su-35 made its first flight in June of 1988. The original version was produced from 1987 to 1995. 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 type has proved a popular option for Russia, as well as China and Indonesia who have also placed orders. The refurbished Su-35 has a redesigned cockpit, better weapon systems and sports thrust vectoring jet engines.
10. Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor (1500 mph)
- Top Speed: 1,500 mph / kn / 2,414 kmh / M2.25 at altitude
- Max Range: 1,800 mi / 1,600 nmi / 3,000 km
The F-22 is a favorite of many aerospace enthusiasts and for good reason. 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. The USAF had originally intended to buy a total of 750 units. However that plan was revised in 2009 due to a number of reasons, most importantly due to lagging developments of Russian and Chinese counterparts. Another reason for the halted production was the focus on the newly developed F-35, and the ban on exports of this aircraft.
9. Convair F-106 (1,526 mph)
- Top Speed: 1,526 mph / 1,325 knots / Mach 2.3
- Max 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. In fact, this is what led to the development of the F-4 Phantom. 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.
8. Grumman F-14 Tomcat (1544 mph)
- Top Speed: 1,544 mph / 1,342 kn / 2,485 kmh / M2.34 at altitude
- Max Range: 1,800 mi / 1,600 nmi / 3,000 km
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.
The model is still in service with other countries air forces, notably the Iranian Air Force. In 2015, Iranian F-14s were reportedly flying escort for Russian bombers on air strikes in Syria. Iran is the last nation to keep F-14s in service, having updated them with their own domestic avionics that would keep them in service until 2030.
7. Eurofighter Typhoon (1544 mph)
- Top Speed: 1550 mph / 1347 kn / 2495 kmh / M2.0+ at altitude
- Max Range: 1,800 mi / 1,600 nmi / 2,900 km
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a multirole jet fighter developed in a multinational collaboration of the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy. The Typhoon made its first flight on 27 March 1994.
The Typhoon entered service in 2003 and is now in service by many nations across the world, particularly European and Gulf countries. There is a total of around 600 units built.
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)
- Top Speed: 1,600 mph / 1,300 kn / 2,500 kmh / M2.35 at altitude
- Max Range: 2,190 mi / 1,910 nmi / 3,530 km
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 Su-30, Su-33, Su-34, Su-35 are all derivatives of the Su-27 design. The Chinese Shenyang J-11 is a license built version of the Su-27.
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)
- Top Speed: 1,650 mph / 1,434 kn / 2,655 kmh / M2.5 at altitude
- Max Range: 3,500 mi / 3,000 nmi / 5,600 km
The F-15 is produced starting in 1972 and is still produced today. 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 is developed and made in America, but has been exported to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Japan.
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)
- Top Speed: 1,650 mph / 1,434 kn / 2,656 kmh / M2.5 at altitude
- Max Range: 3,690 mi / 3,210 nmi / 5,940 km
Aardvark means (earth)pig in Afrikaans, and that’s what the aircraft is often called in the U.S. Military. 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.
One of the most characterizing features of the F-111 Aardvark is the variable-sweep wings. 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. The Aardvark was operated mainly by the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. The latter finally retired the aircraft in 2010.
3. Chengdu J-10 (1,687 mph)
- Top Speed: 1,687 mph / 1,466 knots / Mach 2.2 at altitude
- Max 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. In the beginning, the CAC meant for the J-10 to be a specialized fighter. 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)
- Top Speed: 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn / 3,000 kmh / M2.83 at altitude
- Max 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. When the MiG-25 hit the skies in 1964, you could have picked NATO’s jaws off the floor. The F-4 was undoubtedly the king of the heavens at that time, but it had met its match.
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.
To this day, the MiG-25s are still in service even though most of them have been upgraded into the MiG-31.
1. Mikoyan MIG-31 Foxhound (1,900 mph)
- Top Speed: 1,900 mph / 1,600 kn / 3,000 kmh / M2.83 at altitude
- Max 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 generation 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.
Those attributes are still effective even in today’s air contests. The Russian MIG-31 is expected to remain in service until 2030.