Special Report

Every Active Plane in the US Navy

usnavy / Flickr

The United States has the most powerful Navy in the world. Its ability to assert supremacy over the oceans has endured since World War II, which is when it emerged as the dominant military, primarily due to its formidable fleet of carrier-based warplanes. To this day, the U.S. military’s Naval influence is felt on a global level, unlike any other navy, with vessels deployed in all regions of the world, from the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans to the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, and more. The Navy’s fleet of warplanes extends this reach further still. (Also see, the world’s 20 fastest warplanes.)

24/7 Wall St. referenced the 2023 report World Air Forces from FlightGlobal, an aviation and aerospace industry website to identify every active plane in the U.S. Navy. We ranked aircraft by the number of units in active service. 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 backbone of the Navy’s combat aviation fleet is the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and its predecessor, the F/A-18 Hornet. These fighter jets are designed for air superiority, strike missions, and aerial reconnaissance. Equipped with sophisticated avionics and weapon systems, F/A-18s have proven indispensable in combat aircraft in various engagements worldwide.

Then there is the multi-role stealth fighter F-35C Lightning II, which is part of the next generation and an addition to the fleet. Developed by Lockheed Martin, this aircraft incorporates the latest technologies, making it among the most advanced fighters on the planet. (These are the most expensive planes made for the U.S. Navy.)

The EA-18G Growler is another essential part of the Navy’s aerial arsenal. This advanced electronic warfare aircraft is generally tasked with jamming enemy radar and communication systems and is an essential aircraft for ensuring air superiority in contested environments. These aircraft feature advanced radar and onboard electronic systems that offer capabilities beyond just targeting. Another key component of the Navy’s patrol and strike capabilities is the Boeing P-8 Poseidon. These aircraft play a role in tracking and targeting submarines and surface ships.

The U.S. Navy’s current warplanes serve several roles, ranging from air supremacy to maritime control. The combination of combat fighter jets, reconnaissance aircraft, and even electronic warfare planes creates an incredible adversary for any enemy. Here’s a look at all the planes in active service in the U.S. Navy.

Here is every plane in the U.S. Navy.

25. C-130 Super Hercules

  • Type: Transport
  • Active in Navy: 1 (tied)
  • First flight: April 1996
  • On order for the Navy:

24. de Havilland DHC-3 Otter

  • Type: Training aircraft
  • Active in Navy: 1 (tied)
  • First flight: December 1951
  • On order for the Navy:

23. de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver

  • Type: Training aircraft
  • Active in Navy: 2 (tied)
  • First flight: August 1947
  • On order for the Navy:

22. Gulfstream C-20

  • Type: Transport
  • Active in Navy: 2 (tied)
  • First flight: September 1985
  • On order for the Navy:

21. KC-130 Hercules

  • Type: Tanker
  • Active in Navy: 10 (tied)
  • First flight: January 1960
  • On order for the Navy:

20. Northrop T-38 Talon

  • Type: Training aircraft
  • Active in Navy: 10 (tied)
  • First flight: March 1959
  • On order for the Navy:

19. EP-3 Ares II

  • Type: Special mission
  • Active in Navy: 11
  • First flight: November 2002
  • On order for the Navy:

18. Beechcraft C-12 Huron

  • Type: Transport
  • Active in Navy: 13 (tied)
  • First flight: October 1972
  • On order for the Navy:

17. Beechcraft T-34 Mentor

  • Type: Training aircraft
  • Active in Navy: 13 (tied)
  • First flight: December 1948
  • On order for the Navy:

16. F-16 Fighting Falcon

  • Type: Training aircraft
  • Active in Navy: 14
  • First flight: January 1974
  • On order for the Navy:

15. Boeing E-6 Mercury

  • Type: Special mission
  • Active in Navy: 16
  • First flight: February 1987
  • On order for the Navy:

14. C-40 Clipper

  • Type: Transport
  • Active in Navy: 17 (tied)
  • First flight: April 2000
  • On order for the Navy:

13. C-130 Hercules

  • Type: Transport
  • Active in Navy: 17 (tied)
  • First flight: August 1954
  • On order for the Navy:

12. Martin P-3 Orion

  • Type: Special mission
  • Active in Navy: 17 (tied)
  • First flight: November 1959
  • On order for the Navy:

11. C-2 Greyhound

  • Type: Transport
  • Active in Navy: 30
  • First flight: November 1964
  • On order for the Navy:

10. F-5 Freedom Fighter

  • Type: Training aircraft
  • Active in Navy: 31
  • First flight: July 1959
  • On order for the Navy:

9. F-35 Lightning II

  • Type: Combat aircraft, training aircraft
  • Active in Navy: 35
  • First flight: December 2006
  • On order for the Navy: 216

8. F/A-18 Hornet

  • Type: Training aircraft
  • Active in Navy: 52
  • First flight: November 1978
  • On order for the Navy:

7. Beechcraft Super King Air

  • Type: Training aircraft
  • Active in Navy: 56
  • First flight: October 1972
  • On order for the Navy:

6. E-2 Hawkeye

  • Type: Special mission
  • Active in Navy: 73
  • First flight: October 1960
  • On order for the Navy: 34

5. Boeing P-8 Poseidon

  • Type: Special mission
  • Active in Navy: 116
  • First flight: April 2009
  • On order for the Navy: 12

4. EA-18G Growler

  • Type: Special mission
  • Active in Navy: 152
  • First flight: August 2006
  • On order for the Navy:

3. T-45 Goshawk

  • Type: Training aircraft
  • Active in Navy: 189
  • First flight: April 1988
  • On order for the Navy:

2. T-6 Texan

  • Type: Training aircraft
  • Active in Navy: 293
  • First flight: April 1935
  • On order for the Navy: 29

1. F/A-18 Super Hornet

  • Type: Combat aircraft, training aircraft
  • Active in Navy: 547
  • First flight: November 1995
  • On order for the Navy: 76

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