With the birth of jet aviation, it became clear that an unprecedented world air race had started, in which the winner received a super prize - air supremacy. Its participants are the fastest aircraft of the world's leading aviation powers, primarily the USSR and the USA. And as in any race, it had its own leaders, outright losers and strong middle peasants. One of the main advantages of the winners is speed.
The pace of the race was set by a prototype rocket-powered aircraft, the Bell X-2 "Starbuster", designed specifically for researching processes at triple the speed of sound. The machine was started from the carrier. Its absolute record, and now, more than 60 years later, is admirable - the speed is over 3300 km / h, the maximum height is about 40 km. The series of the fastest aircraft in the world at that time was limited to two copies.
Bell X-2 "Starbuster"
Tu-144 - from the generation of "sixties". Its creator, the great Soviet designer A. N. Tupolev, devoted his life to heavy aircraft - bombers and passenger airliners. Twice he created passenger versions of his formidable combat vehicles - Tu-104 from Tu-16 and Tu-114 from Tu-95. But its pinnacle was the Tu-144, the world's first passenger airliner that took off in supersonic sound nearly half a century ago - in 1968.
The US Air Force strategic bomber Aardvark F111 also hails from the sixties. Entered the service in 1967. He could fly depending on the altitude at speeds from 1475 to 2650 km / h. He successfully combined his main missile and bomb "mission" with reconnaissance and jamming.
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
His peer and "fellow" strategic intelligence officer Lockheed SR-71, nicknamed for its predatory appearance and black paintwork "Blackbird". Its main task is to rip open the airspace of other states at a speed of about 3000 km / h and an altitude of about 26 km and obtain the necessary spy information there with impunity.
Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird"
The Black Bird has reconnaissance missions in Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba. Cases of violation of the state border of the USSR were noted. The creator of the aircraft, Clarence "Kelly" Jones, was able to introduce several new developments into his brainchild, including stealth technology. And yet, to call this project successful, the language does not turn out, since of the 32 built machines, 12 were lost due to technical malfunctions. Learn more about the SR-71 "Blackbird".
The most worthy response of the Soviet aircraft industry to the American military-industrial complex was the MiG-25 fighter-interceptor - the brainchild of the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau. It was not inferior to its foreign counterparts neither in speed (M = 3), nor in flight altitude (23 km), nor in maneuverability, nor in armament. Was in service for almost 30 years.
On its basis, about a dozen different modifications were created from a high-altitude interceptor fighter to a weather scout. By the way, with the advent of the MiG-25, attempts to violate the SR-71 air borders abruptly stopped.
And the race was gaining momentum. The speed and capabilities of combat vehicles on both sides of the ocean grew. The battered Phantoms were replaced in the 70s by the F-14A Tomcat carrier-based interceptor. He confidently overcame the mark of 2500 km / h, soared to a 17-kilometer height and could intercept targets at a distance of over 3000 km, having suspended tanks with him.
Its subsequent modification, the F-14D, had a more powerful radar capable of monitoring up to 24 targets and, if necessary, destroying six of them with air-to-air missiles.
And yet, if the enemy had planned to unleash tons of deadly high-precision metal on us, he would have received a worthy response. Already on the distant approaches, the uninvited guests had an unpleasant meeting with the all-weather long-range fighter-interceptor MiG-31.
A group of 4 vehicles can fully control a front up to 900 km wide, destroying any targets if necessary, regardless of external conditions. The MiG-31 can accelerate to 3000 km / h and operate at any altitude up to 18 km. Read more about the MiG-31.
The development of the next generation of the fighter, the MiG 41, is currently underway.
The last three decades for the Russian military aviation have passed under the sign of "Su", or rather, the Su-27, which was put into service in 1982. It was destined to become the progenitor of a whole family of Sukhikhs - 27UB, 30, 33UB, 27M, 34 and 35. Thanks to the unique know-how - controlled thrust vector, the Su-27 has no competitors in maneuverability - one of the main trump cards in achieving dominance in air.
Su-27 performs "Cobra"
Aviation is increasingly mastering hypersonic speeds. Perhaps the greatest success was achieved by the creators of the experimental fastest hypersonic drone X-43A, created by NASA as part of the Hyper-X project. This aircraft with a direct-flow taxiway managed to accelerate to 11, 3 thousand km / h 11 years ago.