Militaries in the world want to keep an edge on the battlefields, so they have to operate the newest and the most advanced tech available. But sometimes that is simply not possible. Budgets might be too small, or the political situation too inconvenient to buy new fighter aircraft. So, old ones have to remain in service.
Here are the list of top 10 oldest military aircraft still in service within militaries:
1. Antonov An-2
The Antonov An-2 is a Soviet mass-produced single-engine biplane utility/agricultural aircraft designed and manufactured by the Antonov Design Bureau beginning in 1946. Its remarkable durability, high lifting power, and ability to take off and land from poor runways have given it long service life. The An-2 was produced up to 2001 and remains in service with military and civilian operators around the world.
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is an American long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. It has been operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since the 1950s. The bomber is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of weapons and has a typical combat range of more than 8,800 miles (14,080 km) without aerial refueling.
3. Lockheed U-2
The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed “Dragon Lady”, is an American single-jet engine, high altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Lockheed Corporation originally proposed it in 1953, it was approved in 1954, and its first test flight was in 1955.
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is an American four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed. The C-130 entered service with the U.S. in 1956, followed by Australia and many other nations.
The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is a military aerial refueling aircraft that was developed from the Boeing 367-80 prototype, alongside the Boeing 707 airliner. The KC-135 entered service with the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1957; it is one of six military fixed-wing aircraft with over 50 years of continuous service with its original operator.
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 is a supersonic jet fighter and interceptor aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. The aircraft is in service since 1959.
The Northrop T-38 Talon is a two-seat, twinjet supersonic jet trainer. It was the world’s first supersonic trainer and is also the most produced. The T-38 remains in service as of 2021 in several air forces. As of 2020, the T-38 has been in service for over 50 years with its original operator, the United States Air Force.
8. McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1961 with the Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force, and by the mid-1960s had become a major part of their air arms.
The Dassault Mirage III is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fighter aircraft developed and manufactured by French aircraft company Dassault Aviation. It was the first Western European combat aircraft to exceed Mach 2 in horizontal flight. In October 1960, the first major production model, designated as the Mirage IIIC, performed its maiden flight. Initial operational deliveries of this model commenced in July 1961.
The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is a large military transport aircraft originally designed and built by Lockheed. It provides the United States Air Force (USAF) with a heavy intercontinental-range strategic airlift capability, one that can carry outsized and oversized loads, including all air-certifiable cargo. The USAF has operated the C-5 since 1969.