Aircraft performance these days is a highly debated subject concerned or dealing with maximum range, maximum speed, maximum endurance, best rate of climbing, minimum turn radius and minimum take of distance. To estimate all such performances, we need to have an idea about that aerodynamic and all forms of propulsive forces vary with the velocity of the aircraft. The operational significance of the aircraft speeds can be estimated by understanding the engine design and all other relevant features of the aircraft. These speeds of takeoff serve as a safety key element, and induce in the pilots a general awareness in times of highly dynamic situations. These days it is highly corroborated that all the first world countries are engaged in the pursuit of planes which can travel faster than the speed of sound itself. Some of the planes which I would be later on sharing with you are so fast, that they can travel from one country to another in a matter of minutes. Surprisingly, some of these planes are so supersonic that you often hear the sound a few seconds after the plane has passed. Each year, new records are set by these prototype designs and aircrafts. Same is this case this year and so without any further ado let us take a look at the top 10 fastest aircrafts in the world 2012.
At number 10 we have the world’s fastest tactical strike aircraft and strategic bomber which was first designed in the 1960’s by “General Dynamics”. Till now, this aircraft has undergone a number of modifications and upgrades due to which the latest version of the aircraft can now travel at the speed of nearly 1650 miles per hour. Equipped with some of the most supersonic based technologies and devices, the F-111F has a very powerful TF30-P-109 engine which is the reason behind its accelerating performances. Not to forget the turbo fans and the nearly 112KN after burning thrust produced by this plane.
At number 9 we have the plane which is known as the all-weather tactical fighter. It has been designed in order to maintain the superiority of the United States in all domains of aerial combat. Originally designed in the United States, since the 1970’s it is also exported to many other countries like Israel, Japan and some Arab nations. Since its inception, this plane has undergone a number of upgrades and modifications due to which the F-15 can now travel at never before speeds of nearly 1875 miles per hour. Not to forget the advanced and multi-mission avionics designs and systems marked by a heads-up display, ultra high frequency communications, tactical air navigation technologies and central digital computers. In addition, this air craft also has an IFF (identification friend or foe) system which identifies in times of combat whether the pursuing plane is a friend or foe.
This model is in fact a prototype version of the B-70 nuclear armed strategic bomber plane which was yet again designed by the United States. This plane is more commonly known by the name of Valkyrie and is able to fly at Mach 3+ at extremely high altitudes. This feature helps in going undetected by the interceptors due to which it was believed to be the most effective and devastating anti bomber aircraft of those times. Till now a number of variant aircrafts and models of this plane have been designed. In terms of performance it can travel at the speed of 2,056 miles per hour. Not to forget the cruise speed of 2000 miles per hour.
7. Bell X-2
The X-2 was more like a research aircraft which had been designed to test a number of flight characteristics. Designed in the United States, Bell X-2 investigated a number of aerodynamic heating and pressure problems. It took many years to design the plane and give it the final form primarily due to the advancements needed in the aerodynamic designs, high temperature resistant devices and control systems. Not only this aircraft pushed flying speeds to a whole new level, but in fact it also became the pioneer throttleable rocket motors, thus giving it a never before speed of 2,094 miles per hour. The initial speed tests of this plane had been carried out in the early 1950’s. But due to some technical reasons, only 2 of such planes had been designed till now with no more productions.
Originally designed by the Russian air force, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 was among the fastest ever military aircrafts of those times. The first flight tests were carried out in the year 1964 and continued for many years. The MiG-25 can reach to very high speeds of Mach-3.2, but with a number of associated risks at such high speeds. Most of these aircrafts had been used in the times of cold war by Russia and other allies. This super-sonic plane had been used in Iran-Iraq War, Persian Gulf War and in other military exercises. Till now this plane has also been subject a number of upgrades and modifications which guarantee a much more speed than before. At high altitudes this plane can reach the speed of 2,170 miles per hour.
Famous by the name of Lockheed YF-12A, this aircraft had been designed by the United States for high speeds interception. Designed by the Lockheed Corporation, YF-12A aircraft can travel at the maximum speed of 2,275 miles per hour. The aircraft had the capacity two use some very heavy missiles with a very unique and perfect targeting system. In the initial tests, 6 missiles had been fired from it at very high speeds out of which all of them had their targets successfully. It has also been used in various tests by NASA along with the United States Air Force. The variants of this aircraft are known as YF-12A, F-12b and YF-12C. Not to forget that some fragments of the Hughes Aircrafts were also used in the machinery of this aircraft.
Known as a strategic and renaissance aircraft, The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was designed to be a long range supersonic aircraft. It had been used the United States Air Force from the year 1964 to 1998. Only 32 of such aircrafts have been built till now with a number of variants and versions. It is no longer used in combat missions by the U.S, but the speed records this plane had set are still remembered. The entire body of the plane had been built in titanium materials in order to avoid any high temperature mishaps and accidents. The maximum speed at which this plane can fly is more than 2,275 miles per hour. The variants which had been designed were named as SR-71A, SR-71B and SR-71C.
At number 3 we have yet another rocket powered and supersonic aircraft which had been designed by the U.S Air Force. Like all other aircrafts present in the list, X-15 had also set a number of high speed records and flight times. A number of astronaut qualification tests had been carried out using this plane. The rocket engine of the plane had the inherent capacity of producing 57,000 pounds of force. Just imagine more than 6500 kg of fuel being used in a matter of 80 seconds or less. The X-15 is still known for the kind of hypersonic stability it used to exhibit. The maximum speed of this plane is nearly 4520 miles per hour with the fastest manned flight going to the speeds of 4092 miles per hour piloted by Robert M. White. Till now nearly 5 variants of the aircraft have been created.
The X-43A is an experimental and unmanned plane that has been designed by NASA under its Hyper-X program. Till now it has made numerous speed records and successful flights. Designed to be operate at speeds more than Mach-&, X-43A can reach the maximum speed of 7546 miles per hour. The first flight of this plane was made in the year 2002, but had failed due to some technical problems. The second flight turned out to be successful thus making the plane as the fastest air breathing aircraft ever to be flown. The engine which was used in the aircraft is known as supersonic-combustion ramjet engine which guarantee pretty high speeds with some minor risks. With each new test, the plane had been pushed to very faster speeds than before in order to test its ability to withstand some very high temperatures. So, it can be said with a great deal of efficacy and confidence, that the upcoming versions of the plane would cross the 10,000 or more miles per hour mark.
Tested under the name of the DARPA Falcon Project, this hypersonic test vehicle had been designed to go more than 20 times faster than the speed of sound. The HTV-2 can reach to the speeds of more than 12,000 miles per hour. How would it feel to travel from America to Australia in a matter of 50 to 60 seconds? It is also being said that if any of the future test flights would fail, would result in the permanent lockdown of the program. The initial flights tests of the plane had been carried out in the years 2011 and 2012. In order to get some high altitude, the plane is first escorted into the air using some very powerful boosters. After reaching the desired heights, it is separated from the boosters. With the advent of such technologies, it can be said that the upcoming years will also witness the development of such high speed manned aircrafts for the first time.