Special Report

30 Combat Aircraft Types Being Built for the US Military

usairforce / Flickr

The United States military has more than 13,000 active planes, according to FlightGlobal, an aviation and aerospace news and information website. This includes combat aircraft, transporters, tankers, training aircraft, intelligence gatherers, and special mission vehicles. About one in four of the world’s military aircraft are American, more than the combined total of the next five largest aircraft fleets — those of Russia, China, India, South Korea, and Japan.

The United States continues to maintain the world’s largest military aircraft fleet, by a very long shot. (These are the largest air forces in the world.)

The fleet of U.S. military aircraft is also the most advanced — and constantly remains updated. As the military evaluates its needs, it orders new aircraft — some similar to active aircraft, while others are updated with more advanced capabilities. Currently 2,273 aircraft are on order. Many are part of larger contracts, some of which have already been delivered. These aircraft, as well as ones that have already been put into service, reflect the future of U.S. air defense assets. 

To find the warplanes that are the future of the U.S. military, 24/7 Wall St. referenced the 2022 FlightGlobal’s 2022 Directory of World Air Forces. The report lists aircraft in service and on order for the world’s militaries. We ranked all the aircraft the U.S. military had on order at time of publication. To break ties, we used the number of aircraft already active. All data is from the report.. 

If the number of on-order aircraft is any indication — as well as the number of already active such aircraft, the current and future of U.S. air warfare involve a great deal of helicopters for the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. (Here is every plane in the U.S. military.)

About 5,000 U.S. military aircraft are helicopters, led by the Sikorsky S-70-series, a broad category of choppers that includes the Black Hawk — the U.S. Army’s main medium-lift utility and air assault chopper. When used in combat, the Black Hawk can fly up to 1,200 nautical miles without refueling, carrying up to 14 fully equipped battle-ready soldiers or up to 32 100-pound Hellfire air-to-ground missiles.

Among the most advanced U.S. aerial warfare assets are 1,500 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II advanced combat jets. The radar-dodging jet is loaded with advanced sensors and radar jammers, the latest communications capabilities, and long-range anti-ship missiles harboring stealth capabilities. 

The world has 53,271 active military aircraft this year, down slightly from 2021 due in small part to the U.S. and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan that led to the loss of some military aircraft. Reductions of military aircraft fleets in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe were partially offset by increases in the Middle East.

Here are the futuristic warplanes of the U.S. military.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

30. AT-6
> New models on order: 1 (tied)
> Planes active: 1
> Military Branch: Air Force
> Use: Training aircraft/helicopters

[in-text-ad]

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

29. HC-130J (SAR)
> New models on order: 1 (tied) (option to buy 8 more)
> Planes already active: 38
> Military Branch: Air Force
> Use: Special Mission

28. Citation Encore/Sovereign/Ultra
> New models on order: 2 (tied)
> Planes already active: 10
> Military Branch: Marines
> Use: Transport

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

27. King Air 200/350 (UC-12F)
> New models on order: 2 (tied)
> Planes already active: 14
> Military Branch: Marines
> Use: Transport

[in-text-ad-2]

26. CV-22
> New models on order: 2 (tied)
> Planes already active: 51
> Military Branch: Air Force
> Use: Combat helicopter

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

25. G550 (EC-37B) (SIGINT)
> New models on order: 3 (tied) (option to buy 7 more)
> Planes already active: 0
> Military Branch: Air Force
> Use: Special Mission

[in-text-ad]

Source: usairforce / Flickr

24. MC-130J
> New models on order: 3 (tied) (option to buy 13 more)
> Planes already active: 52
> Military Branch: Air Force
> Use: Tanker

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr

23. KC-130J
> New models on order: 3 (tied)
> Planes already active: 60
> Military Branch: Marines
> Use: Tanker

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

22. S-70/MH-60R/S
> New models on order: 3 (tied)
> Planes already active: 500
> Military Branch: Navy
> Use: Combat helicopter

[in-text-ad-2]

21. F-35C
> New models on order: 4 (option to buy 225 more)
> Planes already active: 13
> Military Branch: Navy
> Use: Combat aircraft

20. Global Express (E-11A) (Comms)
> New models on order: 6 (tied)
> Planes already active: 5
> Military Branch: Air Force
> Use: Special Mission

[in-text-ad]

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

19. F-15C/E/EX
> New models on order: 6 (tied) (option to buy 136 more)
> Planes already active: 428
> Military Branch: Air Force
> Use: Combat aircraft

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

18. F-35B/C
> New models on order: 7 (option to buy 309 more)
> Planes already active: 85
> Military Branch: Marines
> Use: Combat aircraft

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

17. C-130J
> New models on order: 8 (option to buy 27 more)
> Planes already active: 163
> Military Branch: Air Force
> Use: Transport

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

16. MV-22
> New models on order: 15 (option to buy 20 more)
> Planes already active: 287
> Military Branch: Marines
> Use: Combat helicopter

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

15. 737 (P-8A) (MPA)
> New models on order: 18
> Planes already active: 112
> Military Branch: Navy
> Use: Special mission

[in-text-ad]

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

14. S-70/HH-60/U/W/MH-60G
> New models on order: 20 (option to buy 91 more)
> Planes already active: 99
> Military Branch: Air Force
> Use: Combat helicopter

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

13. CH-47D/F/MH-47G
> New models on order: 22 (tied)
> Planes already active: 509
> Military Branch: Army
> Use: Combat helicopter

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

12. AH-64D/E
> New models on order: 22 (tied)
> Planes already active: 819
> Military Branch: Army
> Use: Combat helicopter

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr

11. CH-53K
> New models on order: 25 (option to buy 175 more)
> Planes already active: 0
> Military Branch: Marines
> Use: Combat helicopter

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

10. E-2C/D (AEW)
> New models on order: 27
> Planes already active: 97
> Military Branch: Navy
> Use: Special mission

[in-text-ad]

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

9. T-6A/B/C
> New models on order: 29
> Planes already active: 293
> Military Branch: Navy
> Use: Training aircraft/helicopters

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

8. 767 (KC-46A)
> New models on order: 42 (option to buy 81 more)
> Planes already active: 48
> Military Branch: Air Force
> Use: Tanker

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

7. H145 (UH-72A/B)
> New models on order: 47
> Planes already active: 372
> Military Branch: Army
> Use: Combat helicopter

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

6. CV/MV-22
> New models on order: 49
> Planes already active: 12
> Military Branch: Navy
> Use: Combat helicopter

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr

5. F/A-18E/F
> New models on order: 58
> Planes already active: 435
> Military Branch: Navy
> Use: Combat aircraft

[in-text-ad]

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

4. AW119 (TH-73A)
> New models on order: 66 (option to buy 62 more)
> Planes already active: 3
> Military Branch: Navy
> Use: Training aircraft/helicopters

Source: Robert Sullivan / Public Domain / Flickr

3. AH-1Z
> New models on order: 105 (option to buy 21 more)
> Planes already active: 91
> Military Branch: Marines
> Use: Combat helicopter

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

2. S-70/EH/HH/MH/UH-60
> New models on order: 204 (option to buy 129 more)
> Planes already active: 2262
> Military Branch: Army
> Use: Combat helicopter

[in-text-ad-2]

1. F-35A
> New models on order: 1,473
> Planes already active: 153
> Military Branch: Air Force
> Use: Combat aircraft

ALERT: Take This Retirement Quiz Now  (Sponsored)

Take the quiz below to get matched with a financial advisor today.

Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests.

Here’s how it works:
1. Answer SmartAsset advisor match quiz
2. Review your pre-screened matches at your leisure. Check out the advisors’ profiles.
3. Speak with advisors at no cost to you. Have an introductory call on the phone or introduction in person and choose whom to work with in the future

Take the retirement quiz right here.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.