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7 Of The Most Awesome Swing-Wing Aircraft Ever Built

In the 1960s and 70s, the swing-wing was the design of choice for strategic bombing and attack aircraft. These are 7 of the most awesome designs that emerged from that time.

7) General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark

The Aardvark was the first variable-sweep aircraft to enter production, and the wings could sweep from 16 degrees to 72.5 degrees. But a swing wing wasn't the only pioneering technology on this jet. It also paved the way for terrain-following radar, making it capable of high-speed, low-level flight.

6) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23

In addition to wing sweep, the MiG-23 was the Soviet Union's first jet equipped with look-down/shoot-down radar, as well as the first to have side-mounted air intakes. The jet was a success, and over 5,000 of them were built.

5) Panavia Tornado

Still in service today, the Tornado is one of the most recognizable swing-wing aircraft. The Tornado has another rare feature of fighter aircraft: thrust reversers. The reversers were put on to increase STOL capability.


4) Sukhoi Su-24

The Su-24 was designed to cruise above Mach 1 at low altitudes for extended periods of time. It also was the first Soviet aircraft with a digital navigation/attack system.

3) Rockwell B-1B Lancer

It's the only active swing-wing aircraft in the US Air Force, and it packs a punch. This Mach 1.25 bomber can carry 125,000 pounds of payload. And with over 120,000 pounds of thrust, it can get places quickly.


2) Tupolev Tu-160

The Soviet Union's equivalent of the B-1 was the Tu-160 Blackjack. It's a massive aircraft, setting records for the largest combat aircraft, the largest supersonic aircraft, and largest swing-wing aircraft designed.

Rob Schieiffert

1) Grumman F-14 Tomcat

One of the most impressive Navy aircraft to ever fly, the F-14 could reach speeds of Mach 2.34, had over 54,000 pounds of thrust, and starred in the best aviation movie ever made.


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Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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