Even if you’re not really into technology such as fighter jets, battleships, and other vehicles, it’s hard not to be impressed with how far these war machines have come over the decades. Between seriously fast planes and devastatingly powerful ships, the weapons of war have certainly kicked it up a notch (or several) since last century. Here are some of the most amazing vehicles of war that you’ll find in the world today!
The F-117 Nighthawk is a twin-engine plane that was designed for stealth. The first time that it took to the skies was back in 1981 after it was developed secretly by the Skunk Works division. It was fully operational in 1983 but didn’t actually become known until 1988, because military leaders were still keeping the devastating weapon a secret. It was used regularly in the Gulf War, however, Yogoslavian Civil War in 1999, and other venues.
Like their cousins in the sky, battleships are often created with a specific purpose in mind. The USS Coronado, for instance, was created to take on coastal threats and handle surface warfare. The 418-foot ship can travel at up to 54 miles per hour and was first launched in January of 2012. The ship was named after the city of Coronado, Calif.
The B-2 Spirit can fly up to 700 miles per hour, which would allow it to travel the world completely in just 39 1/2 hours! Of course, that speed comes at a price, as the plane starts at $737 million. Many refer to this plane as the Stealth Bomber, and it was used in the Kosovo War and also in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq without taking a shred of damage.
When you look at the USS Zumwalt, you probably wouldn’t guess that it’s designed to be a rather stealthy ship. However, despite its water displacement of over 14,500 long tons, the USS Zumwalt actually shows up on radars the way that a tiny fishing boat was. Named after Naval Officer Elmo Russell Zumwalt, Jr., the ship cost about $4 billion to construct.
F-35 Lightning II
The F-35 Lightning II is so fast that it can make even the Stealth Bomber itself look slow, as its capable of traversing around the world in less than a full day! The $106 million jet was named for its speed and has been a very popular jet, with 115 units being built since last year alone. Other NATO members besides the U.S. have even gotten into F-35 Lightning II production.
Denmark isn’t known as a serious military power, but the HDMS Absalon definitely goes against this assumption. Since 2007, the HDMS Absalon has been able to provide helicopters with launching, landing, and refueling services from sea or its home port of Frederikshavn. It is frequently seen around the coast of the Jutland peninsula.
If the F-35 Lightning II makes the Stealth Bomber look slow, imagine what the Convair F-106 does. It can travel around the world within just 16 hours, racking up a top speed of 1,549 miles per hour, which is nearly unfathomable. Surprisingly, this plane has been out of action since the 1980s and was used a lot in the 1960s, which shows how far ahead of its time it truly was.
The British Royal Navy gave this one a rather literal moniker, as it is intended to defend the UK from any aerial threats. In fact, the HMS Defender is the eighth ship to be given the name. It was launched in 2009, completed sea trials in 2011, and was commissioned in March 2013. This rather majestic looking ship is truly a force to be reckoned with.
Sukhio PAK FAT-50
This jet may not be a household name, but it’s notable for being Russia’s first aircraft to be able to truly use stealth mode. The reason that it took Russia so long to make it was that it was prohibited from creating stealth aircraft for quite some time. In 2010, this aircraft made its first flight and saw actual action in 2016 and 2017, with manufacturers saying it can see action for about 35 years.
USS Independence (LCS 2)
The USS Independence (LCS 2) is a very versatile ship, as it can not only do battle with submarines, but also do away with mines and take on smaller ships with ease. The ship calls San Diego home and was launched for the first time in April of 2008. It was used for real just six months later in October, and it’s the sixth ship of its line for the U.S.
Originally from Soviet Russia, the Sukhol Su-27 was a supersonic jet that was created to counteract U.S. technology. It first saw service in 1985 after making its first trip in 1977. It was capable of traveling at 1,500 miles per hour, which is actually twice the speed of sound! There are still some models of this classic in service in Russia and Ukraine today.
France built the Dixmude, which is a helicopter carrier that does its job very well, as it can carry over 30 helicopters as well as a tank without any problems whatsoever. The amphibious assault ship is the third to carry the Dixmude name and is part of the Mistral class. The Dixmude cost a hefty $600 million to make, but the French believe it’s worth every penny.
If you want to talk about speed, you have to acknowledge the F-4 Phantom, which really ruled the skies back in the 1960s and into the Vietnam War. With top speeds of about 1,607 miles per hour, this $17.8 million dollar beauty was a real bargain that could circle the globe in just 15.6 hours. This iconic aircraft has earned its place in history.
The Juliet Marine Ghost
This ship is certainly not like the others. It can move through water undetected entirely due to its interesting shape, which removes hull friction and keeps it quite stealthy. The Juliet Marine Ghost is actually operated by Juliet Marine Systems, and the ship is all about the use of the technology that the company hopes can bring improved performance to other ships in the future.
Despite its rather unintimidating name, the F-111 Aardvark saw service for over 30 years until it was discontinued by the U.S. Air Force in 1998. However, that had more to do with the $10 million purchase price than the jet being obsolete. The two-person aircraft was known for its quickness, it could get in and out of areas quickly.
The South African Navy owns the SAS Mendi, which is capable of a speed of 30 knots despite its large weight of over 3,500 metric tons. It’s decked out with all kinds of weapons, including large machine guns and an advanced radar system, which will help the country defend itself from the sea, if needed. It launched in 2003 and calls the Simonstown port its home.
The F-15 Eagle was built by McDonnel Douglas back in 1967, but is still in use today. It entered service in 1976 and can circle the globe in about 15 hours, making it a very potent enemy to be sure. Many consider the F-15 Eagle to be the most well-rounded fighter jet of all time, and it could continue to see action in the U.S. even after 2025!
The pride of the Royal Australian Navy is the HMAS Canberra, a truly gigantic ship that can carry over a hundred vehicles, or if preferred, nearly 20 helicopters. Construction on this giant began in 2008, and the ship was laid down in 2009. Just two years later, the ship was launched. The HMAS Canberra can hold over 1,000 troops, making it a very useful craft.
Russian planes are often developed with a lot of secrecy in mind. As such, it’s hard to say exactly how much this beauty costs. What we do know, however, is that the Mikoyan Ye-152 can fly at speeds of up to 1,666 miles per hour, allowing it to travel around the world in under 15 hours! What is Russia using this aircraft for? Nobody is really sure.
Since way back before World War I, the British Royal Navy has been known for its powerful fleet, and the HMS Agamemnon shows that things really haven’t changed all that much. The HMS Agamemnon is due to be launched in 2020 and is a submarine that will be able to stay underwater for up to three months. The HMS Agamemnon will be part of a family that includes six nuclear-powered submarines.
Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound
The jets keep getting faster and faster, and the Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound introduced a new echelon of speed, as its capable of flying at 1,860 miles per hour! That’s fast enough to fly around the world in just 13 hours. This aircraft was developed for supersonic flight and has a twin-engine that allows for low-altitude maneuvers, as well. The Russian Air Force still uses this one.
The Indian Navy is due to gain some respect on the world stage, thanks to its INS Vishal, which should be constructed by 2023. The carrier can not only transport 1,400 people, but also numerous planes, helicopters, or other vehicles. It can stay at sea for months on end and has been developed by the Indian Navy without international help.
The SR-71 Blackbird was developed by none other than Lockheed Martin, and it really stepped up what aircraft can be capable of, as it can fly at 2,200 miles per hour. It can do so for a length of about 3,682 miles! In addition, it’s perfect for surveillance because it can cruise at altitudes of up to 80,000 feet. Once, it flew from coast to coast in the U.S. in 67 minutes. The aircraft was retired after 30 years in action, however.
French Frigate Forbin
At a cost of about $770 million, the French Frigate Forbin is quite a majestic ship. It’s 501 feet long and has to be assembled in 14 sections, with each about 23 feet high and up to 66 feet long. The ship has been designed to protect against not only surface attacks, but also submarine threats. It has also been created to appear very small on other ships’ radars.
Some promising aircraft sadly never see action. This was the case with the XB-70 Valkyrie, which was a strategic bomber that could drop nuclear bombs while flying at speeds of up to 2,056 miles per hour. The U.S. put the brakes on its development when they caught wind of the Soviet Union’s new missile defense system. Two prototypes remain, but the XB-70 Valkyrie was only flown in 1964.
HMS Queen Elizabeth
Another British ship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth is the biggest warship that the UK has ever owned, and that’s saying something. It can carry over 40 aircrafts, but it is also quicker than expected and able to contribute directly to fights, if needed. When launched in July 2014, it was very impressive and is currently planned to enter service in 2020.
Bell X-2 “Starbuster”
The United States Air Force, the Bell Aircraft Corporation, and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics collaborated on the Bell X-2 “Starbuster”, but its time was very short, as it was only tested between 1955 and 1956 and pilot Milburn G. Apt died during its first test flight. This one never really ended up getting off the ground.
The USNS Spearhead may not be for use in direct combat, but that does not mean that it’s useless. Quite the opposite, in fact. A modular approach to design allows the ship to be re-sized according to naval needs, and it can hold up to 41 people when needed. It can also be used to transport mass amounts of equipment when necessary. It can go at 29.5 knots and entered service in 2011.
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat
Another mysterious Soviet aircraft, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat was said to be capable of speeds of 2,170 miles per hour for a range of about 1,600 miles. However, the large-winged aircraft could not sustain the high speeds without engine damage. Unfortunately, the MiG-25 simply wasn’t maneuverable enough to make an impact on the international scene.
Steregushchy (hull number 530)
The Russian Navy has stayed relevant with Steregushchy, which will substitute for the Grisha class in the future at a cost of between $120 million and $150 million. The Russian Navy loves the ship and has planned to purchase as many as 30 or more of them in the future. It can manage submarine attacks and provide support for on-shore missions with its powerful guns.
If 2,000 miles per hour sounds fast, what about 4,520 miles per hour? That’s the speed that the rocket-powered X-15 was capable of. It debuted in 1959 and made 199 flights during its tenure. However, its development cost was pretty prohibitive, at $300 million. Ultimately, the program ended up being most notable for helping NASA create a better shuttle.
Ex-Soviet aircraft carrier the Admiral Gorshkov is now owned by the Indian Navy, which has seen fit to retrofit and upgrade the craft in order to meet its surprisingly high standards. The ship has been given the code-name Project 22350. The ship was originally named after Sergey Gorshkov, a Naval officer for the USSR during the Cold War.
It seems like the future of combat keeps taking participants further and further away from one another and the Boeing X-51 is emblematic of that fact. This new aircraft, which is expected to be operational by 2020, will be capable of soaring at 3,400 miles per hour and is planned to be used to strike opponents from extremely high altitudes during conflicts.
The Turkish Navy’s best ship is the TCG Heybeliada, which is often referred to as the “Ghost of the Seas.” It can move very secretly and has the ability to move at 29 knots, too. It was designed at the Tuzla Naval Shipyard and entered service in 2008 after being first laid in 2005. This ship is a beauty and has earned the Turkish Navy a lot of respect.
If you think that Half-Life 3 is taking forever to get finished, check out the X43A Scramjet, which has been in development since World War II finished. Only now, with new strides in aeronautics, is the X43A Scramjet even possible. The prototype should be capable of amazing things, such as a top speed of 7,500 miles per hour, which would allow it to traverse the entire globe in just over 3 hours!
USS Enterprise (CVN-80)
This is not the USS Enterprise of Star Trek fame, but it’s no less impressive than the famous ship that Captain Kirk navigated. The ship will launch in 2018, becoming just the third aircraft carrier designed and created by Gerald Ford for U.S. Navy use. It is expected to enter operation in 2027, which will surely be a sight to see.
You’ll excuse us if the details are a little vague on the X-41, but it’s technically still classified and has been since its conception in 2003. What we do know is that the hypersonic aircraft is supposed to be able to travel at 13,000 miles per hour, which would allow it to circle the globe in an hour and a half. The aircraft has been very hush-hush so far, but we’d love to learn more.
USS Gerald R Ford
Named after President Gerald Ford, the USS Gerald R Ford can transport more than 70 different aircraft at once. Originally named the CVN-78, Senator John Warner decided that the ship should be named the USS Gerald R Ford instead when he modified a 2007 spending bill. President George W. Bush agreed and signed the change himself, giving the ship a name worthy of its grandeur.
NASA Space Shuttle
Not all fast aircraft are instruments of war. The king of them all when it comes to speed is the NASA Space Shuttle, which can soar into the air at a top speed of 17,500 miles per hour! Of course, that’s what it takes to leave Earth’s atmosphere and travel out into the stars. It’s hard to imagine a conventional aircraft ever approaching such speeds. For all this, each shuttle costs about $450 million.
The USS America
The USS America is quite amazing, as just like the famous Russian dolls, it can actually open up to reveal more ships on the inside. Not only that, but it can also carry helicopters, aircraft, and more. It even has its own hospital. Huntington Ingalls Industries built the ship, which is ported in San Diego. Its slogan is a powerful one: “Ready for War or Peace.”