Speed is the next aviation advancement to counter emerging threats in the next several decades.
X-43 is the fastest airplane in the world. On 16 November 2004, the X-43 reached Mach 9.6 (7,000 miles or 11,265 kilometers per hour) according to NASA. The X-43 is an unmanned aircraft, which launches not from the ground but from a B-52 at about 40,000 feet (12.2 kilometers) in the air.
X-15 is the fastest plane in the world. Powered by a rocket engine, the X-15 is said to have reached speeds of Mach 6.85, or 4,520 miles per hour (7,274 kilometers per hour). Like the X-43, it too is launched mid-air from a B-52. The X-15 has also achieved altitude records by reaching 67 miles (107.8 kilometers) on 22 August 1963. The X-15 is powered by a rocket engine, however, so it is technically half rocket, arguably eliminating it from the running of fastest airplane in the world.
The fastest fighter planes to ever enter service are the MiG-25 developed in the Soviet Union during the 1960s and the related MiG-31 that followed in the 1970s. The MiG-25 began as an experimental project called the Ye-155 and was built by the Mikoyan Gurevich design bureau with research assistance from the Central Aerodynamics and Hydrodynamics Institute (CASI or TsAGI). The goal of the effort was to build a high-speed interceptor capable of speeds near Mach 3
When discussing the world's fastest airplane, Lockheed' s SR-71 often comes up. Also referred to as the Blackbird, the SR-71 made its maiden flight on 22 December 1964. It's a jet-powered and piloted airplane, which is said to have reached Mach 3.2 (2,094 miles or 3,370 kilometers per hour) making it the fastest airplane in the world. But those world records may not stay unbroken for long.
At the moment, the SR-72 is still only a concept, though Lockheed has now confirmed that the plane is in active development. The unmanned SR-72 would be equipped with an integrated turbine engine and dual-model ramjet. The hypersonic aircraft is designed for both long-range strike and reconnaissance. The plane would use a two-phase propulsion system. A standard jet turbine would propel the plane as fast as Mach 3, then a ramjet would kick in and accelerate the craft to hypersonic speeds. At hypersonic speeds, the SR-72 will be able to traverse any continent in around an hour. The aerospace company says it may have a scaled demonstrator of the SR-72 technology flying by 2023.
The fastest airplane commercially was the Tupolev Tu-144, nicknamed the Konkordski, which is said to have reached Mach 2.35 (1,550 miles or 2,494 kilometers per hour). Technical and safety problems, however, lead the Russian company to retire the Tu-144 after a short time. One of the fastest commercial airliners was the Concorde, which generally flew at Mach 2.02 (1,330 miles or 2,140.4 kilometers per hour).