There are very many aircraft that have exceeded the speed of Mach 2.0. Some of them are research aircraft, some are military and some are simply flying for reconnaissance purposes. But there is always something special with supersonic aircraft.
If we ask the question that names the Fastest jet in the world?
Most people know it’s the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the reconnaissance plane so fast it could outrun missiles.
But what about the fastest fighter jet in the world?
Well, the Soviets created Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 fighter jet to chase down the SR-71 Blackbird, and it was so fast that it’s still the fastest fighter jet ever built. And it’s still in service today.
Since it was built to intercept the SR-71 it was required to have extreme speed, hence its Mach 3.2 top capability. The Foxbat, unlike the Blackbird, featured 4 air-to-air missiles which made it an interceptor rather than a reconnaissance aircraft.
It has never shot down a Blackbird but it has had many other combat missions that have been successful, for instance in the Iran-Iraq war.
Over 1100 Foxbats were built between 1964 and 1984, however, today the use is limited, with its only users being Russia, Syria, Algeria and Turkmenistan.
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat
The story of the Foxbat is a fairly simple one. When Russia first understood the SR-71, it realized that the step from a reconnaissance plane that could fly three times the speed of sound to a bomber that could do so was large but hardly insurmountable. They had to plan on U.S. bombers that could outrun ground-launched missiles.
And so they got to work on a fighter that could move on the edge of space with the SR-71. While they knew it was unlikely they could create a fighter that could fly faster than a reconnaissance plane, there was a decent chance that it could outfly the bomber since the bomber would have to carry more weight.
Lacking the materials science to create light airframes like the SR-71, it did the next best thing and just made the engines so powerful that they could muscle through, carrying the nickel-steel alloy frame to record heights and speed. And the engineers at the Mikoyan and Gurevich Design Bureau (MiG is a shortening of that name), were some of the world’s best engine designers.
They came up with a twin-turbojet design that could propel the MiG-25 to Mach 2.8 in operational conditions and 3.2 if the pilots were willing to risk the engines. The plane quickly set world records for speed, time to climb, and top altitudes for a fighter.
And that scared the U.S. and the rest of NATO. Not only was the Foxbat ridiculously fast and powerful, but its design suggested that it was super maneuverable, a design characteristic that the West was moving toward.
Still, the Foxbat has continued in service in Post-Soviet Russia, and it’s still the fastest and highest-flying fighter jet in the world, carrying its full combat load so high that the pilot’s tears will boil off their faces. It just doesn’t matter because there’s nothing up there for the Foxbat to fight.