I understand and military cargo/soldier transport aircraft are not as agile and fast as fighter jets, but I was wondering whether one had a minimum speed requirement to be able to become a 'military aircraft'.

I'm wondering this because speed can enhance the speed at which operations are executed, and avoid enemy aircraft or missiles. It's simply not safe to have an aircraft moving at a speed in which they can be shot out of the sky in a matter of seconds.

Note: excluding helicopters

  • $\begingroup$ The old military gliders were technically transport aircraft, and they were really slow with an incredibly short (independent) range. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Apr 16, 2020 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ Military transport helicopters are often required to hover at zero airspeed. How slow do you want to go and why? $\endgroup$ Apr 16, 2020 at 16:39
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The premise of this question is utterly confused & mistaken. Avoiding SAMs isn't about outrunning them at all, except arguably in the case of the SR-71. Plenty of military aircraft are notably slower than commercial jets: C-12, T-6, T-44, C-130, P-3, E-2,C-2, C-160, etc. All of these are absolutely military aircraft, even though they'd all have trouble outrunning missiles much bigger than a large Estes rocket. (slight hyperbole, acknowledged) $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Apr 17, 2020 at 4:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Ville Niemi: Obviously not, or I wouldn't have bothered to add my comment :-) $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Apr 17, 2020 at 17:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf Still not seeing it but being as Ralph J seems to have also misunderstood the same way it is probably my mistake. Since I know what I am trying to say, I cannot really see how clear I am being. $\endgroup$ Apr 17, 2020 at 20:52

1 Answer 1


There is no special certification that gives out the title of a "military aircraft". Any aircraft that is owned and operated by the military is, thus, a military aircraft.

Even the fastest aircraft can be easily shot down by modern missiles. For fighters, missile evasion is more about turn rate than speed, and for large non-combat aircraft, countermeasures are used. Speed is dictated by mission requirements instead.

The Antonov An-2 is operated by at least 50 national militaries around the world - more than the F-16 - which makes it one of the most-widespread military aircraft. It's popular with militaries for its ruggedness and rough field capabilities, and thousands have been built for military use.

It also happens to hold a solid standing on lists of the slowest production airplanes, with a top speed of just 140 knots and no specified stall speed. Few factory-built fixed-wing aircraft are slower, and they're all considerably smaller.

Being manned, fixed-wing, powered, mass-produced, and employed operationally, not for training, it ticks all the boxes to count as a military transport aircraft, without any small print. That should be example enough to make the answer clear: there isn't. Military aircraft can be as fast or as slow as the mission requires.


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