The Concorde was a spectacular aircraft. The aircraft was one of the biggest engineering milestones the aviation has ever seen. It was an iconic, a beauty and stylish aircraft designed by British and French manufacturers. It was the first supersonic commercial aircraft and it could reach speeds of more than Mach 2 (around 1300 mph!). This speed is only matched by other Fighter Jets or rockets.
This raises the question, could the Concorde be faster than Fighter Jets?
There are a handful of Fighter Jets that on full throttle and afterburner would be faster than the Concorde. But, by using the afterburners, the aircraft would lose a lot of fuel and would be hard for them to intercept or follow a Concorde already flying over the Atlantic as they would need to refuel.
The Concorde was designed specifically to be a supersonic aircraft to travel as fast as possible over the Atlantic ocean. Its design constraints were quite “straightforward”: fly a commercial plane as high as possible as fast as possible.
The Fighter Jets on the other hand have to take into account different design restrictions. Yes, speed is part of it, but you also need to take into account that a Fighter Jet has to be maneouravble and stealthy. This meant serious G-Forces acting over the aircraft that constrict the design envelope.
Is Concorde still the fastest plane?
The iconic Concorde had an operational working point of speed of Mach 2.0. It allowed the aircraft to be able to fly over the Atlantic from London to New York in, sometimes, less than 3 hours! In fact, the record is held by a British Airways flight on 7th February 1996: a flight from NY to London Heathrow in 2h 52 minutes and 59 seconds!
The Concorde is still the fastest commercial aircraft that as ever been put into operation. From its last flight on a cold 23rd November 2003, no other commercial aircraft has ever flown at Mach 2.
This aircraft is so iconic that there is only 1 single photograph of the aircraft flying in supersonic speeds! And it had to slow down in-flight so the fighter jet pilots could take the photograph.
Supersonic flight had its drawbacks though, it could only fly in transatlantic flights because of the enormous speed it could affect the population in ground.
Nevertheless, there are some aircraft in production that are trying to revive supersonic travel. For example, the Boom Supersonic designed and in production by Boom Technology.
This aircraft would be smaller than the Concorde and only fly around with 65 to 88 passengers with a range of 4250 nmi flying at a Mach of 1.7. This could result in flying from NY to London in around 3h 15minutes or Miami to Buenos Aires in 3h 48 minutes. Transpacific flights would require a refueling stop, but even though it would reduce a lot the time of flights. San Francisco to Tokyo would be a mere 5h 30min or LA to Sydney in 6h 45minutes.
Even though there are no commercial aircraft faster than the Concorde, there plenty of Fighter jets that are faster.
What is Faster than the Concorde?
There are plenty of aircraft that reached and exceeded Mach 2.0. NASA has designed an aircraft that reached more than Mach 6: the NASA/USAF X-15.
Here is a list of a handful of Fighter Jets that are faster than the Concorde:
|Aircraft||Mach Speed||Miles per hour|
|NASA / USAF X-15||Mach 6.7||4500|
|SR-71 Blackbird||Mach 3.4||2500|
|Lockheed YF-12||Mach 3.2||2200|
|MiG-25 FoxBat||Mach 3.2||2190|
|Bell X-2 Starbuster||Mach 3.2||2090|
|XB-70 Valkyrie||Mach 3.02||2000|
|MiG-31 Foxhound||Mach 2.83||1860|
|F-15 Eagle||Mach 2.5||1650|
|F-111 Aardvark||Mach 2.5||1650|
|Su-27 Flanker||Mach 2.35||1553|
The X-15 was a joint operation between NASA and the US Air Force to develop the fastest jet. It was a jet that had, literally, a rocket in the back. These aircraft could not take off by their own so they were flown in a B-52 bomber and thrown in mid air. Only 3 of these were built in total, and because it could reach altitudes higher than 50 miles, some of its pilots are considered astronauts!
The SR-71 is the most characteristic aircraft of this list. This aircraft was used for reconnaissance missions and could fly for longer periods at very high altitudes. This is one of the only 5 fighter jets ever designed to surpass Mach 3. The SR-71 can fly from NY to London in less than 2h!
The predecessor of the SR-71 is the YF-12, which was used for research by NASA and later became the basis for the new generation.
What is the Fastest Fighter Jet in the World?
As we said in the previous section, the fastest fighter jet is the X-15 that was developed by NASA and the USAF. The flight was designed to obtain as much information possible to adapt it to newer Fighter Jets and Spaceships.
Only three X-15 were developed in the 60s and they performed 199 test flights with them. Flight number 200 was planned to be performed on 20th December 1968, but after a series of cancellations and bad weather NASA and USAF decided they would not do the flight.
In total, there were 12 pilots flying the jets, with them Neil Armstrong. In a series of flight of maximum altitude, the flights reached more than 50 miles which is what is considered to be the Karman line. This line represents the split between space and earth. Because of it, 8 of those 12 pilots were named astronauts.
Test Pilot Michael J. Adams of the USAF lost his life in one of the test flights. On 15th November 1967, Michael J. Adams was flying at an altitude of around 50 miles when he lost control of the flight. The aircraft started to turn and descend to ground very fast. When the G-Forces reached 15Gs the flight started disentegrating. The aircraft’s debris was spread on an area of more than a 40 square miles.
As you can see, there are a lot of Fighter Jets that are faster than the Concorde, but the Concorde was able to sustain this speed much longer than any of these aircraft. There is no aircraft nowadays that can match the beauty, sexiness and power of the Concorde.