Is there an aircraft that can go supersonic at sea level without using afterburner? Quick look through the "supercruise" capable aircraft might be helpful in narrowing down the possibilities, though I haven't seen anything specifying the top speed without afterburner and at sea level simultaneously. If I remember correctly, the F-15 is not capable of doing that; this gives you an idea, however, it's not the fastest jet in the world, so I'm still looking for the answer.

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    $\begingroup$ Simple answer...no, aircraft can only go supersonic when flying and if it’s at sea level it isn’t flying! $\endgroup$ Sep 5, 2018 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ Aircraft yes, missiles. $\endgroup$ Sep 5, 2018 at 15:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Notts90: There are places below sea level where flying is possible. The Dead Sea, for example. $\endgroup$ Sep 5, 2018 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Notts90. “sea level” is a barometric (pressure) altitude, not an altitude referenced to a physical surface. It the altitude at which the ambient (static) pressure is 14.696 psia, which is the ISA altitude at 0 feet. Altitude above ground level, AGL, is an altitude referenced to the local ground. On a day of low pressure, “sea level” will be physically higher than a day of high pressure. A flight level, FL360, is also a barometric altitude. Surely, you actually know that? $\endgroup$
    – Penguin
    Sep 6, 2018 at 10:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Notts90. No worries, but it did seem a bit like others “took the bait”! $\endgroup$
    – Penguin
    Sep 7, 2018 at 10:44

2 Answers 2


According to Wikipedia, the BAC TSR-2 was capable of supercruise (no reheat) at Mach 1.1 at 200 feet (~60 m) altitude. The TSR-2 first flew in 1964. The English Electric Lightning had demonstrated supercruise several months earlier, but only at higher altitudes (above 20,000 feet, appr. 6 km).

  • $\begingroup$ Not sure if more than 1 ever flew, but versions of its Olympus engines were later seen in the Concorde. $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2021 at 10:58

The F-111 Aardvark could go Mach 1.2 at standard sea level conditions (14.7 psi and 59 deg F). I worked on the F-111 as a design engineer at General Dynamics / Fort Worth TX Division (where the F-111 was being built) in the late 1960s. At the time, the F-111 was the only aircraft in the world that could go supersonic "on the deck". Of course, it required full military power and full afterburner, so it emptied the gas tank pretty quickly.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Aviation Stack! This is an informative answer, though do notice the question specifically mentions "without using afterburner". $\endgroup$
    – user12873
    Jun 22, 2021 at 5:39
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    $\begingroup$ "Full military power" and "full afterburner" are mutually exclusive. $\endgroup$
    – TypeIA
    Jun 22, 2021 at 5:53
  • $\begingroup$ I would very much like to welcome you on this site, and won”t vote for deleting this answer. $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    Jun 23, 2021 at 2:15
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, indeed. The F-111 had a thrust to weight ratio of greater than 0.6, as compared to 0.4 of the F-86. This answer gives a good idea of how much "push" it took at sea level. $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2021 at 6:21

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