The U.S. Air Force’s 5 Fastest Jets

Sylvia Powell
3 min readSep 25, 2023

If you’re looking for the fastest jets in the world, the United State’s Air Force (USAF) has them. Lots of them, in fact. According to this chart ranking the fastest aircraft in the world, 13 of the world’s fastest 56 types of aircraft are military jets used by the U.S. Air Force. The U.S. Air Force we know today officially began in 1947, but some form of it has been around since the U.S. Army started an aeronautical division in the early 1900s. During this time, military jets have been built to reach some truly unbelievable speeds. In fact the USAF’s fastest aircraft reached its highest speed in 1967, and no other aircraft has been able to replicate its high speed since.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is another one of the primary users of the USAF’s five fastest jets. How does NASA utilise military jets? They are used as research support aircraft that are referred to as “chase planes” and serve as an extra set of eyes and as camera platforms during research missions. With their incredible speed, they are able to help maintain flight safety and monitor for certain events.

The Air Force’s 5 fastest jets are the fastest jets in the world overall, save for the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat model which is primarily used by the Indian, Algeria, and Syrian Air Forces; as well as by the Soviet Air Defence Forces. The MiG-25 aircraft is the fourth fastest aircraft in the world, bumping the X-2 and XB-70 models used by the U.S. Air Force down to 5th and 6th place.

The 5 fastest jets used by the U.S. Air Force, and their max speeds, are as follows:

  1. North American X-15 has a max speed of 4,520 mph.
via Wikimedia Commons

2. Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird has a max speed of 2,500 mph.

via Wikimedia Commons

3. Lockheed YF-12 has a max speed of 2,274 mph.

Via Wikimedia Commons

4. Bell X-2 Starbuster has a max speed of 2,094 mph.

via Wikimedia Commons

5. North American XB-70 Valkyrie has a max speed of 2,056 mph.

How do these outrageous speeds compare to that of a commercial jet that you or I would take for a flight across the country? Let’s just say the fastest Boeing model on the list reaches a max speed of 690 mph, or 4–7x slower than the U.S. Air Force’s fastest jets.