Top 10 Spy Planes in the World (ISR & AEW Spy Aircraft)

Top 10 Spy Planes in the World (Spy Aircraft)

Here is the list of Top 10 Spy Planes in the World (Spy Aircraft), and we will give you the information about the ISR aircraft, military aircraft have been used to turn the tides of war and while guns bombs and missiles certainly serve their purpose in armed conflicts reconnaissance missions serve perhaps an equally important role the first aerial reconnaissance mission took place all the way back in 1794 when a french observation balloon was used to survey the Austrian army’s movements and the rest, as they say, is history here are the top 10 most amazing spy planes.

ISR: Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR)

AEW: Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C)

List of Top 10 Spy Planes in the World

15. Arado Ar-234 Blitz (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

often referred to as the luftwaffe’s wonder weapon the erado ar-234 blitz made its first appearance during the end of world war ii and while it was actually the world’s first operational jet aircraft and the first to ever be used as a bomber it found much more success as a high-speed spy plane when the bombs were swapped out for cameras the ar-234 blitz flew so fast that it was just about impossible to intercept the aircraft when the reich air ministry offered a tender for a jet-powered high-speed recon vehicle the errado company was the only one to heed the call and 210 of them were built between 1944 and the end of the war in 1945 but they were fast and maneuverable nonetheless capable of performing some serious aerial acrobatics if the needs arose now you can find a restored and mostly operational model in the smithsonian museum in washington dc if the eroto ar234 blitz had been seen in action at the beginning of the war for germany could it have helped to end the war a little differently well no one can say for sure but what we can say is that the manufacturing of this spy plane was too little too late

14. Beechcraft RC-12 guardrail (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

here’s another aircraft that was originally designed for civilian transport before servingĀ as a spy plane at the onset of world war ii everyone played a role in the global conflict and lots of companies repurposed their products to help fight the good fight the Beechcraft RC-12 guard rail is no different when it flew in civilian airspace it was known as the king air but when duty called it was outfitted with a ridiculous amount of antennas while it may not have been the prettiest spy plane to look at those antennas were able to intercept any and all electronic transmissions coming from the axis countries the Beechcraft RC-12 guardrail was so efficient and so well received that the model is expected to remain in service until 2025 and the antennas protruding from the wings and body of the aircraft make it look a little bit silly but if you ever see the best craft RC-12 guardrail flying overhead you can kiss all of your well-kept secrets goodbye because now they belong to the united states army

13. Lockheed martin u2 (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

keeping things vintage for a minute we have the u2 spy plane or perhaps a more antiquated entry to our list this incredible plane was pivotal in the evolution of military aircraft while the prototype took flight in 1955 it gained prominence in the united states air force after world war ii nicknamed dragon lady the u2 was used to gather intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance in numerous conflicts and points of tension for the united states around the globe specifically in the 1960s this is a one-seat high-altitude and long endurance plane that was the perfect model for spying on overseas enemies the final plane in the u2 series was built in 1989 and in more recent years it’s been modified to operate in the earth’s atmosphere to collect data on planet and celestial phenomena the Lockheed martin u2 is an amazing story of how something designed for war can be reused and repurposed to help humans gain a better understanding of the world around them and use that information to improve humanity rather than destroy it

12. Lockheed martin sr-71 blackbird (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

probably the most recognizable spy plane on our list the Lockheed martin sr-71 blackbird is one of the most brilliant reconnaissance aircraft to grace the skies created by the same folks who introduced the u2 the sr-71 blackbird was designed to make up for the faults of its predecessor mostly its speed and boy did it ever it screamed and soared at well over three times the speed of sound and broke plenty of records it also holds twice as much fuel so it’s about twice as useful it took its first flight for the united states air force in 1964 and made its way into enemy territory quickly and quietly until it was retired in 1990 but what also made this spy plane so amazing was that because of its sound breaking speed it was easily able to outrun missiles if things got a little hot and heavy the design of the Lockheed martin sr-71 blackbird is also sleek cool and just plain badass when you see it the team at Lockheed is always building upon their previous designs so who knows what they’ll bring to the table and the skies

11. Yakolev Yak-28R Brewer-D (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

this next amazing spy plane was a multi-role supersonic aircraft capable of acting as a bomber and interceptor when it wasn’t running reconnaissance missions the Yakolev Yak-28R Brewer-D made its first flight in 1958 and since then 183 units of the reconnaissance variant were built the yak-28r was designed and employed by the soviet union and used advanced radar and imaging equipment to capture and report on any enemy movements but after the decline and eventual fall of the soviet union the recon variant of the aircraft was replaced by the superior and more technologically advanced Sukhoi Su-24 it did fly at subsonic speeds but was able to reach incredibly high altitudes making the likelihood of ever being spotted while flying a yak-28r slim to none and while the design itself may look a little clunky to the untrained eye every aspect of the aircraft plays a vital role in its functions

10. General Dynamics RB-57S Canberra (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

although it embarked on its first flight in 1963 the united states air force ordered over 400 Canberra from general dynamics in 1951. the spy plane was also a pretty reliable jet bomber and was the top performing spycraft at the time of its introduction the wingspan was bigger the engines upgraded and there was plenty of spy equipment on board to keep the US ahead of the game during the cold war it can carry out both weather and strategic reconnaissance and carried out some important missions during its heyday more importantly though this high-altitude aircraft was capable of radiation detection which during the nuclear arms race was crucial it collected plenty of information on the soviet union’s weapons and munition capabilities until it was retired after the onset of the superior u2 spy plane but much like its successor the three remaining rb57s Canberra models are used today by NASA for high altitude atmospheric research

9. Supermarine Splitfire PR (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

the royal air force’s most prized fighter the supermarine spitfire was beloved by her majesty’s pilots during world war ii and feared by the opposing german and japanese armies and while it certainly served its role as the superior dogfighter of the skies it was also used as a spy plane it flew higher and faster making it one of the most perfect aircrafts of the time to carry out important photo reconnaissance and interceptor missions in fact the pr of its name stands for photo reconnaissance the mounted cameras were able to survey heavily contested german territories from above this version of the spitfire flew through the skies typically unarmed allowing for extra fuel tanks at low medium and high altitudes making it incredibly versatile it could fly fast and close into access controlled territory and provide the royal air force with an almost continual flow of crucial information as the war raged on and don’t be fooled by its unorthodox color while the pink paint job may look a bit silly to some it actually served a very simple yet effective purpose the pink hue made the spitfire as close to invisible as humanly possible when it flew under the cloud cover

8. De Havilland Mosquito PR (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

have you heard the buzz about this one the de Havilland Mosquito was another aviary favorite of the royal air force and in 1941 it was one of the fastest military aircraft around originally conceived as a fast bomber the de Havilland mosquito grew into newer roles as world war ii raged on and more and more roles needed to be filled it became a pathfinder day and night fighter maritime striker intruder and eventually a photo reconnaissance plane the model was able to hold an impressive amount of payload making it a perfect fit to carry large camera equipment mounted right onto its belly its speed also meant that it could get in and out of enemy territory before anyone knew what was going on and was able to outfly the axis aircraft this spy plane which surprisingly was almost made entirely out of wood took part in plenty of recon missions and let the brits know just how many enemies were coming to play and what kind of toys they were bringing the photos that it brought back every time were no doubt able to save hundreds and hundreds of allied lives

7. Northrop f-15 reporter (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

taking its first flight in 1945 the Northrop f-15 reporter was built for the united states air force again during world war ii and was completely dedicated to photo reconnaissance missions the f-15 reporter was an unarmed aircraft that was actually a modified version of the p-61 black widow heavy fighter the original model’s rear gunner turret was removed to make space for more fuel tanks and photographic equipment the nose was also modified to add aerial cameras as well the f-15 reporter was a long-distance high-speed flyer and carried a total of six mounted cameras while very few models were ever produced it still served a mighty purpose and was an integral aircraft during the early onset of the Korean war providing photographic evidence that the north had invaded the south in 1950 despite the f-15 reporter being put to good use only 36 were ever made and the model was retired in 1968 as more efficient jets were being produced during the Vietnam war

6. Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

the united states air force made great use of their strong and reliable bomber the b-24 liberator it was fast deadly and a mainstay for the united states and allied forces during world war ii it was so popular in fact that the united states navy wanted to get in on a piece of the action as well the b-24 was adapted for maritime use and became the consolidated pb4y2 privateer this long-range patrol bomber and spy plane took its first flight in 1943 and had increased stability at lower altitudes something many planes at the time were not built for the ball turret and supercharged engines were removed to lighten the load of the aircraft and allow it to fly faster for longer periods of time electronic countermeasures and radar antennas were placed all over the aircraft the privateer didn’t fall into obscurity though at the end of world war ii it made plenty of flights at the beginning of the korean war flying electronic signal tracking missions near the coast of the ussr in china and although this spy plane was incredibly useful it was retired from service by the united states after just 15 years as technology improved

5. Lockheed l-12a Elektra Junior (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

Lockheed makes some of the best and most iconic military aircraft to take to the skies and their pre-world war ii spy plane is no different the Lockheed l-12a Elektra jr was a small and understated aircraft but it also served a very important role in the time leading up to world war ii this eight-seat six-passenger spy plane served his purpose in the late 1930s with production ending in 1941 and was often flown over german and Italian territory to collect some pretty valuable information that would guide initial operations it was originally developed for more commercial and business purposes but proved its worth when the time came when the war finally broke out many of the commercial models were repurposed for photo reconnaissance purposes for the united states the British and Canadian air forces and part of what made this aircraft so unique was that when it was seen flying in the sky everyone thought it was just another commercial jet flight it was able to hide in plain sight and a fun bit of trivia the Lockheed l-12a electric junior was featured in the Hollywood classic Casablanca

4. Ilyushin Il-20 Coot (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

the soviet union’s illusion il-20 coot is a militarized version of a quad turbo prop passenger airliner that made its first flight in 1968. the original model was outfitted as a spy plane with camera mounts on the body and it played an important role in the cold war with the united states for the next 20 years these aircraft were equipped with special mission systems for intelligence gathering missions that mostly served ground commanders the il-12 coots accompanying aircraft and satellites all in real time the il-20 coot was a superior aircraft when it came to capturing photographs and signals of enemy bases and encampments so the following forces could analyze and neutralize the enemy while taking as few casualties as humanly possible this soviet spy plane came with a side looking long radar array mounted on its belly and used telemetry communication platforms that were also used for the soviet space program not a bad deal when your aircraft uses the same technology they use to communicate with the stars the soviet union was able to keep much of the Aleutian il-20 coot’s details under wraps but it has been reported that it was on par with many of the united states spy planes of the time including the Boeing RC-135

3. Boeing RC-135v Rivet Joint (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

speak of the devil another spy plane built by a prominent united states commercial airliner company the Boeing RC-135v is a massive aircraft based on Boeing’s vintage 707 airliners it was upgraded with modern engines and a massive suite of the latest electronic surveillance equipment that lets it monitor just about any transmission it may pick up for some quality cold war recon this model of spy plane can give the pilots and their commanders on the ground near real-time on-scene collection analysis and dissemination capabilities and over the years has been given plenty of upgrades from the likes of general dynamics and Lockheed because of all the rivet joints bells and whistles it houses a pretty substantial crew consisting of the cockpit crew to fly the plane the electronic warfare officers intelligence operators and airborne systems maintenance personnel it’s a pretty serious operation on board but then again the aircraft undertakes some pretty serious missions in the new age of warfare

2. Lockheed p3 Orion (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

lockheed has proven time and time again that they’re the team or company to beat when it comes to superior military aviation it may be hard for many people to believe but there was a time when the submarine was just a figment of the imagination but as time went on and war evolved that maritime fiction became a reality and with the onset of submarines also came the submarine countermeasures so in the 1960s the united states navy developed and introduced the lockheed p3 orion which was based on the l-188 electra commercial airliner but this p3 orion comes with a tail stinger or mad boom that it uses for the magnetic detection of submarines since then the p3 orion has served 17 different nations over the course of 50 years and is still in use today eventually the p3 orion got some upgrades too on top of being one of the most reliable detectors of enemy submarines it’s also used for anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare and while the p3 orion will eventually be replaced in the united states navy’s fleet it’s still flying alongside some very heavy hitters like the boeing b-52 strata fortress and the lockheed u2 spy plane

1. Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (Spy Plane)

Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World
Top-10-Spy-Planes-in-the-World

the Lockheed martin f-35 lightning ii is the newest product from the f-35 line while its predecessors were plagued by all kinds of issues plenty of flight tests training flights and one and a half trillion dollars later the united states air force was able to design one of the most capable fighter jets of today it’s a single-seat all-weather stealth craft with reconnaissance electronic warfare and surveillance capabilities the f-35 lightning 2 can carry up to 9 tons of weapons ordinance including air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles both unguided and laser-guided bombs and cluster munitions despite it being a stealth plane it packs quite a punch it also carries onboard systems that can act as laser missile jammers and protect it against infrared homing missiles this also makes it the perfect aircraft for ground support as it also has a 20-millimeter cannon on board.

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