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10 Sizzling Hot Cold War Airplanes

 The Cold War was an era marked by exorbitant military spending, nuclear paranoia and rapid technological development. However, if you love your airplanes just as I do, it was an era marked by some really cool military jets. Here are 10 of the coolest Cold War military airplanes: 
 
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1. Lockheed F-104 Starfighter 
Origin: USA 
The Starfighter is on this list more for its beauty than anything else. This supersonic interceptor aircraft was dogged by various problems during its early days, and it was notoriously difficult to fly. It was in service with the US Air Force between 1958 and 1969, however the last country to retire it was Italy. Some 2,578 units of the plane were built.
2. Tupolev TU-22M
Origin: Soviet Union 
The TU-22M was feared in Western defense circles, because it can fly at supersonic speeds for a very long range. It found its niche hunting aircraft carriers in large packs. Production of the TU-22M lasted for 30 years, and the plane is still in service with the Russian Air Force today, currently being used in the ongoing Syrian conflict.
3. Convair (General Dynamics) F-106 Delta Dart
Origin: USA 
This jet served as the primary all-weather interceptor aircraft in the US Air Force for over 20 years. This speedy little plane was capable of flying at Mach 2.3 (1,525mph), and was one of the first to employ a delta wing design, which was inspired by Nazi designs from World War II. Many F-106s were converted into unmanned drones following their retirement from operational service in 1988.
4. MiG-31 Foxhound
Origin: Soviet Union 
Nicknamed the Foxhound, this is another interceptor aircraft similar to the aforementioned F-106. This plane is still in service today, with the Russian Air Force still operating about 200 of them. The MiG-31 is used to project Russian power into the Arctic, as well as defend the country’s borders. Its defining characteristic lies in its ability to conduct hit-and-run sorties before escaping back into Russian airspace.
 
5. Convair B-58 Hustler
Origin: USA 
The world record-holding B-58 Hustler was only in service for 10 years, but it was still a landmark plane. It was the first supersonic jet bomber (carrying nuclear weapons) that was capable of reaching Mach 2 ever to be operated. The introduction of a new generation of Soviet surface-to-air missiles in the 1960s led to the plane’s demise due to limitations these placed on its capability.
6. Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird 
Origin: USA
Undoubtedly this list would be incomplete without mentioning the Blackbird. This spy plane is the fastest plane ever to fly, capable of Mach 3.4. It was used to fly quickly over enemy territory, spy on it, and get out again as quickly as possible. The plane was so fast that it could outrun missiles being fired at it. The last two airworthy Blackbirds were retired in 1999.
7. Tupolev TU-95
Origin: Soviet Union 
This bomber was first developed in the 1950s, and 58 of them remain in service with the Russian Air Force to this day. While they would be vulnerable to any of the modern Western interceptor aircraft, its primary use would be to fire cruise missiles at enemy targets from the safety of Russian airspace. The plane is also used as a nuclear deterrent.
8. North American F-100 Super Sabre 
Origin: USA 
The Super Sabre was introduced all the way back in 1954, remaining in service with the US Air Force until 1979, and with the Republic of China Air Force until 1988. During its operational life, the plane was used in a variety of roles, such as ground attack and as a fighter-bomber. It was the first US Air Force plane capable of attaining supersonic speed in level flight.
9. Sukhoi SU-25
Origin: Soviet Union 
Designed to support friendly ground forces in combat, the SU-25 has been in production for almost 40 years, and is operated by many air forces around the world. The subsonic aircraft saw action most recently during the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, as well as to combat the insurgency currently being waged by the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in the Middle East.
10. McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagle

Origin: USA 
The F-15 is synonymous with the US Air Force, and was initially designed as an air superiority fighter in the 1970s. The most notable combat action that the plane had seen was during the Gulf War of the early 1990s. In addition to the US Air Force, the plane is operated by the Israeli, Japanese and Saudi Arabian air forces.


H/T: Houston Press, Gizmodo 

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