How Long Would It Take To Fly Around The World In A Fighter Jet?

Have you ever wondered how long it would take to circumnavigate the globe in one of the world’s fastest fighter jets? With top speeds exceeding Mach 2, today’s fighter aircraft are engineering marvels capable of covering vast distances in a surprisingly short time.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: In an ultra-fast fighter jet like the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, a pilot could fly around the world near the equator in approximately 18-20 hours.

In this article, we’ll look at the maximum range and top speeds of some of the premier fighter jets operated by the United States and its global allies. We’ll calculate the total flight time it would take to fly around the Earth along the equator based on the performance specifications of various aircraft.

We’ll also consider factors like aerial refueling and pilot fatigue that might necessitate stops along the way.

Long Range Fighter Aircraft

When it comes to long-range fighter aircraft, several models stand out for their impressive capabilities and endurance. These aircraft are designed to cover vast distances quickly, allowing them to perform various missions around the world without needing frequent refueling stops.

Let’s take a closer look at three notable long-range fighter aircraft: the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, and the Dassault Rafale.

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation stealth fighter jet known for its exceptional speed, range, and maneuverability. With a top speed of around Mach 2.25 (approximately 1,500 mph), the F-22 can cover vast distances in a relatively short amount of time.

Its long-range capabilities are further enhanced by its advanced avionics and fuel-efficient engines.

According to the official website of Lockheed Martin, the F-22 has a combat radius of over 500 nautical miles, which means it can fly over 500 miles from its base and return without needing to refuel.

This impressive range allows the F-22 to operate globally, making it a formidable long-range fighter aircraft.

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

Another remarkable long-range fighter aircraft is the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. Designed for multi-role capabilities, the F-35 combines advanced stealth technology, impressive range, and state-of-the-art avionics.

It can cover extensive distances and engage both air and ground targets effectively.

According to official specifications, the F-35 has a maximum range of approximately 1,200 nautical miles, allowing it to fly long distances without refueling. This range makes it suitable for various missions, including reconnaissance, air defense, and precision strikes.

The F-35’s long-range capabilities contribute to its overall effectiveness as a versatile fighter jet.

Dassault Rafale

The Dassault Rafale, a French-made multirole fighter jet, is also recognized for its long-range capabilities. Equipped with advanced avionics and a robust engine, the Rafale can operate effectively in various combat scenarios, including long-range missions.

Although specific details about the Rafale’s range are not readily available, it is known to have a combat radius of around 1,000 nautical miles. This means it can cover significant distances without needing to refuel, making it a reliable long-range fighter aircraft.

Flight Planning Considerations

Aerial Refueling Support

When planning a flight around the world in a fighter jet, one of the most important considerations is the availability of aerial refueling support. Fighter jets typically have limited fuel capacity, and flying long distances without refueling would be impossible.

Aerial refueling involves connecting the fighter jet to a tanker aircraft in mid-air to transfer fuel. This allows the fighter jet to extend its range and continue the journey without having to make frequent stops for refueling.

The availability of aerial refueling support can greatly impact the overall duration of the flight. If there are numerous tanker aircraft available along the flight route, the fighter jet can refuel more frequently, minimizing the time spent on the ground.

On the other hand, if aerial refueling support is limited, the flight may be more time-consuming as the fighter jet would need to wait for refueling opportunities.

It’s worth noting that aerial refueling requires precision and coordination between the tanker aircraft and the fighter jet. Pilots must have extensive training and experience in conducting mid-air refueling operations to ensure safety and efficiency.

Crew Fatigue and Duty Limits

Another crucial factor to consider when planning a flight around the world in a fighter jet is crew fatigue and duty limits. Flying for long durations without breaks can lead to exhaustion and impair the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.

Therefore, it is essential to establish duty limits and ensure that the crew gets adequate rest during the journey.

The exact duty limits for fighter jet pilots may vary depending on the country and military regulations. These limits take into account factors such as the duration of continuous flight, the number of flight hours in a day, and the required rest periods between flights.

Adhering to these duty limits is crucial to maintain the safety and well-being of the crew.

In addition to duty limits, crew rest facilities and amenities also play a role in mitigating fatigue during a long-haul flight. Having comfortable sleeping quarters, access to nutritious meals, and recreational areas can help the crew relax and rejuvenate during their breaks.

Flight Times Around the World

Raptor: New York to New York in Under 20 Hours

When it comes to flying around the world in a fighter jet, the Raptor is a force to be reckoned with. This state-of-the-art aircraft is capable of completing a journey from New York to New York in under 20 hours.

With its advanced technology and impressive speed, the Raptor can cover great distances in a relatively short amount of time. It’s a thrilling experience that few have had the opportunity to enjoy.

Lightning: DC to DC in 22 Hours

The Lightning, another remarkable fighter jet, offers an exhilarating flight experience from Washington, D.C. to Washington, D.C. in just 22 hours. This sleek and powerful aircraft can soar through the skies at incredible speeds, making it possible to traverse the globe in record time.

The Lightning’s cutting-edge design and high-performance capabilities make it a top choice for those seeking an adrenaline-fueled adventure.

Rafale: Paris to Paris in 26 Hours

For those in search of a European adventure, the Rafale is the perfect choice. This exceptional fighter jet can fly from Paris to Paris in approximately 26 hours. With its agile maneuverability and impressive range, the Rafale is well-suited for long-distance flights.

Whether you’re taking in the breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower or exploring the charming streets of Paris, the Rafale offers an unforgettable journey.

It’s important to note that these flight times are approximate and can vary depending on various factors such as weather conditions and air traffic. Additionally, these times are based on the assumption of non-stop flights, which may not always be feasible in real-world scenarios.

If you’re interested in learning more about these incredible fighter jets and their flight capabilities, check out the official websites of the manufacturers. They provide detailed information about the aircraft’s specifications, performance, and other interesting facts:

So, if you’ve ever wondered how long it would take to fly around the world in a fighter jet, the answer is: it can be done in a matter of hours with these remarkable aircraft. Buckle up and get ready for the thrill of a lifetime!


While modern fighter aircraft have the range and speed to fly around the world in less than a day, lengthy missions would require careful planning and support to account for aerial refueling and pilot fatigue limits.

Still, it’s remarkable what these engineering marvels can accomplish in terms of global reach and rapid response.

Next time you gaze skyward and spot a military jet streaking by, imagine where it could go and how quickly it could circumnavigate the planet with enough fuel and a spare pilot on board!

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