Special Report

Every Plane in the US Military

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Tensions around the globe have been escalating over the past few years, with the ongoing Russia’s war in Ukraine and China’s actions in the South China Sea, claims regarding Taiwan, and its flying balloons over parts of the world. To keep its position as the world’s dominant military power, the United States invests in its military, including maintaining the most powerful fleet of military aircraft on the planet.

The U.S. fleet of military aircraft is integral in providing support for various operations, from combat and surveillance to search and rescue missions. 

To identify all of the planes in active service in the U.S. military, 24/7 Wall St. referenced the report, 2023 World Air Forces, from FlightGlobal, an aviation and aerospace industry website. We ranked aircrafts by the number of units in active service. We excluded all trainer aircraft and helicopters and all aircraft from the Coast Guard. Supplemental data regarding the type of aircraft, how many are in active service, and how many are on order came from FlightGlobal. Data on each aircraft’s first flight came from various military and historical sources.

The U.S. military currently operates roughly 13,300 aircraft, making it the largest and most powerful air force in the world. This fleet consists of various types of aircraft, including fighters, bombers, transport, and surveillance planes, each with its own set of unique capabilities. (These are the largest air forces in the world.)

Among the fighter aircraft, the F-35 Lightning II stands out as a cutting-edge machine, representing the next generation of air combat. With over 300 units in service, the F-35 forms the backbone of the military’s air dominance strategy. This advanced multirole fighter, developed by Lockheed Martin, combines stealth capabilities, advanced sensors, and networking technology, making it an indispensable tool for maintaining military superiority.

Another aircraft in the U.S. military arsenal is the F-22 Raptor, which is known for its air-to-air combat prowess. With over 150 units in service the F-22 holds a critical role in air superiority missions. Its stealth capabilities, integrated avionics, and ability to reach supersonic speeds without the use of afterburners provide a notable advantage over potential adversaries. (These are the U.S. military’s fastest planes.)

In terms of long-range strategic bombers, the B-2 Spirit  stealth bomber is capable of delivering precision-guided munitions, and it plays a key role in penetrating heavily defended enemy territory. The B-2 saw its first action in Kosovo in 1999 where it delivered pinpoint strikes. This stealth bomber is also capable of delivering a nuclear payload.

Finally, transport and surveillance aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules and the E-3 Sentry are vital for logistical support and situational awareness. The C-130 Hercules, with hundreds of units in service, remains the workhorse for mobility and transport in the U.S. military. It also takes on a few different variants across branches. The E-3 Sentry is an airborne early warning and control aircraft, providing critical surveillance and command-and-control capabilities.

Click here to see every plane in the US military.

48. de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 1 (tied)
> First flight: May 1965
> On order for the military: 0

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47. Gulfstream G550
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 1 (tied)
> First flight: July 2002
> On order for the military: 0

46. Piper PA-31 Navajo
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 1 (tied)
> First flight: September 1964
> On order for the military: 0

45. Cessna 208 Caravan
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 2
> First flight: December 1982
> On order for the military: 0

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44. Beechcraft 1900 (C-12J)
> Branch: Air Force, Army
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 3 (tied)
> First flight: September 1982
> On order for the military: 0

43. de Havilland Canada Dash 7
> Branch: Army
> Type: Special mission
> Active in Military: 3 (tied)
> First flight: March 1975
> On order for the military: 0

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42. Boeing 747 E-4
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Special mission
> Active in Military: 4 (tied)
> First flight: April 1988
> On order for the military: 0

41. Boeing 757 C-32
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Special mission
> Active in Military: 4 (tied)
> First flight: February 1982
> On order for the military: 0

40. Airbus Bombardier Express E-11
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Special mission
> Active in Military: 4 (tied)
> First flight: August 2007
> On order for the military: 5

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39. Sikorsky M-28 Skytruck
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 5 (tied)
> First flight: September 1969
> On order for the military: 0

38. Douglas C212 (C-41)
> Branch: Army
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 5 (tied)
> First flight: December 1936
> On order for the military: 0

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37. Airbus CN235
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Special mission
> Active in Military: 5 (tied)
> First flight: November 1983
> On order for the military: 0

36. Gulfstream IV (C-20G)
> Branch: Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 5 (tied)
> First flight: September 1985
> On order for the military: 0

35. Boeing Leonardo C-27 Spartan
> Branch: Army
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 7
> First flight: June 2008
> On order for the military: 0

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34. Lockheed Martin EP-3E Ares II
> Branch: Navy
> Type: Special mission
> Active in Military: 11
> First flight: November 2002
> On order for the military: 0

33. Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion
> Branch: Navy
> Type: Special mission
> Active in Military: 17
> First flight: November 1959
> On order for the military: 0

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32. Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Combat aircraft
> Active in Military: 18
> First flight: July 1989
> On order for the military: 0

31. Learjet 35 (C-21A)
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 19
> First flight: August 1973
> On order for the military: 0

30. de Havilland Bombardier Dash 8
> Branch: Air Force, Army
> Type: Special mission
> Active in Military: 20 (tied)
> First flight: June 1983
> On order for the military: 0

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29. Dornier 328 (C-146) Wolfhound
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 20 (tied)
> First flight: December 1991
> On order for the military: 0

28. Boeing RC-135
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Special mission
> Active in Military: 22
> First flight: August 1956
> On order for the military: 0

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27. Lockheed Martin U-2 Dragon Lady
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Special mission
> Active in Military: 26
> First flight: August 1955
> On order for the military: 0

26. Northrop Grumman C-2 Greyhound
> Branch: Navy
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 30
> First flight: November 1964
> On order for the military: 0

25. Fairchild Republic Merlin IV/Metro (C-26)
> Branch: Air Force, Army
> Type: Special mission, transport
> Active in Military: 35 (tied)
> First flight: December 1972
> On order for the military: 0

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24. Pilatus PC-12 (U-28) Draco
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Special mission, transport
> Active in Military: 35 (tied)
> First flight: May 1991
> On order for the military: 0

23. Cessna Citation
> Branch: Army, Marines
> Variants: Encore, Sovereign, Ultra
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 38
> First flight: February 2002
> On order for the military: 2

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22. Boeing DC-10 (KC-10) Extender
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Tanker
> Active in Military: 40 (tied)
> First flight: July 1980
> On order for the military: 0

21. L-3 Communications King Air 350 MC-12W Liberty
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Special mission
> Active in Military: 40 (tied)
> First flight: April 2009
> On order for the military: 0

20. Boeing B-1B Lancer
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Combat aircraft
> Active in Military: 43
> First flight: December 1974
> On order for the military: 0

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19. Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 52
> First flight: June 1968
> On order for the military: 0

18. Boeing 707
> Branch: Air Force, Navy
> Variants: E-3 Sentry, Boeing E-6 Mercury, E-8 Joint STARS
> Type: Special mission
> Active in Military: 60
> First flight: February 1972
> On order for the military: 0

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17. Boeing 767 KC-46 Pegasus
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Tanker
> Active in Military: 61
> First flight: September 2015
> On order for the military: 113

16. Boeing B-52H Stratofortress
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Combat aircraft
> Active in Military: 72
> First flight: April 1952
> On order for the military: 0

15. Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye
> Branch: Navy
> Type: Special mission
> Active in Military: 73
> First flight: October 1960
> On order for the military: 34

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14. Boeing AV-8B Harrier II
> Branch: Marines
> Type: Combat aircraft
> Active in Military: 87
> First flight: November 1981
> On order for the military: 0

13. Boeing 737
> Branch: Navy
> Variants: C-40 Clipper, P-8 Poseidon
> Type: Special mission, transport
> Active in Military: 133
> First flight: April 2000
> On order for the military: 12

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12. Boeing F/A-18 Hornet
> Branch: Marines
> Variants: A, C, D
> Type: Combat aircraft
> Active in Military: 138
> First flight: November 1978
> On order for the military: 0

11. Boeing EA-18G Growler
> Branch: Navy
> Type: Special mission
> Active in Military: 152
> First flight: August 2006
> On order for the military: 0

10. Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Combat aircraft
> Active in Military: 177
> First flight: May 1990
> On order for the military: 0

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9. Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Transport
> Active in Military: 228
> First flight: July 1993
> On order for the military: 0

8. Fairchild Republic A-10C Thunderbolt II
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Combat aircraft
> Active in Military: 286
> First flight: October 1975
> On order for the military: 0

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7. Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
> Branch: Air Force, Marines, Navy
> Variants: A, B, C
> Type: Combat aircraft
> Active in Military: 316
> First flight: December 2006
> On order for the military: 1943

6. Beechcraft C-12 Huron
> Branch: Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy
> Type: Special mission, transport
> Active in Military: 324
> First flight: October 1972
> On order for the military: 0

5. Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Tanker
> Active in Military: 388
> First flight: June 1957
> On order for the military: 0

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4. McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle II
> Branch: Air Force
> Variants: C, E, EX
> Type: Combat aircraft
> Active in Military: 408
> First flight: February 2021
> On order for the military: 136

3. Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet
> Branch: Navy
> Variants: E, F
> Type: Combat aircraft
> Active in Military: 416
> First flight: November 1995
> On order for the military: 76

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2. Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules
> Branch: Air Force, Marines, Navy
> Variants: Super Hercules, Compass Call, Commando Solo, Combat King II, Combat Talon II, Commando II
> Type: Special mission, tanker, transport
> Active in Military: 548
> First flight: December 1957
> On order for the military: 64

1. Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon
> Branch: Air Force
> Type: Combat aircraft
> Active in Military: 775
> First flight: January 1974
> On order for the military: 0

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