The World’s 4 Biggest Military Planes Are Beyond Incredible

By: Stephen Thompson | Last updated: Nov 05, 2023

The military undoubtedly has some of the world’s finest gizmos, and with the service they render to their countries, that’s not surprising.

Their vehicles and aircraft are some of the coolest things in their possession. Military planes are exceptionally bigger than the commercial passenger planes we are used to. Let’s take a look at the biggest military aircrafts ever to grace the skies.

Antonov An-124 Ruslan

This massive Russian aircraft is named after a giant from an ancient myth. The An-124 Ruslan remains the largest aircraft in active service, with an estimated payload capacity of 150 tons.  


Source: NASA

The only aircraft that surpassed its payload capacity was the Antonov An-225, destroyed at the Antonov Airport in 2022, during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There are 40 Antonov An-124 Ruslan aircraft in active service.


Lockheed C-5 Galaxy

This incredible plane was first introduced in 1970. It is one of the largest military aircrafts known to man. It provides armed forces with a heavy intercontinental airlift that can carry very large cargo without issues.


Source: GRB’sCollectibles/Pinterest

The C-5 Galaxy is remarkably expensive to build—models range between $100.37 and $224.29 million.

Antonov An-22

In 1965, when the Antonov An-22 was first produced, it held the record of the largest cargo aircraft in the world. This is an obvious indicator that the Soviets have always held this record.


Source: Flickr

The An-22 slightly outperforms the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III in capacity. With a maximum payload of 80 tons, the An-22 was the go-to aircraft fleet whenever the Soviets wanted to transport heavy-duty military gear. Presently, there are six An-22 in active service.

Boeing C-17 Globemaster III

The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is the largest aircraft in the large fleet of the United States Air Force. Since 1991, it has been used to transport helicopters, tanks, and armored vehicles, and has a maximum payload capacity of 76.6 tons.


Source: Aldo Bidini/Jet Photos

It has an admittedly lower capacity relative to the An-22, but it boasts more sophisticated and advanced technology. Whenever the POTUS visits another country, the important vehicles required for his motorcade are often transported using this aircraft.

Xi’an Y-20

The Xian Y-20 is a testament to the sudden industrial and technological advances of China. In fact, after Russia, the US, and Ukraine, China is the only country to have built a cargo plane with a maximum takeoff weight that exceeds 200 tons.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Chinese government initiated the design and development of the Xian Y-20 in the 1990s. However, the craft did not fly until 2013, and by 2016, it had become an active aircraft in the Chinese Air Force. The Xian Y-20 can carry a maximum payload of approximately 67 tons.


Ilyushin Il-76

The Ilyushin Il-76 is a quad-engine strategic airlifter. It was developed by the Soviets in 1967 and went into active service in 1974. This fleet of some 800 aircraft played a prominent role in the Cold War.

Source: Flickr

It was a versatile machinery with the capability of delivering heavy cargo to the frontlines. It does not need special airstrips to land or take off, and can carry payloads of up to 50 tons.


HK-1 (The Spruce Goose)

This magnificent aircraft was well known as the Spruce Goose. It got the name because it was almost entirely made out of birch.

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The Goose was initially meant to be a transatlantic transport aircraft during World War II, but it wasn’t put to use because it was not finished early enough. The US military only flew the big bird once, in 1947, and that one was the only one ever built.


Convair B-36 Peacemaker

This military aircraft had the longest wingspan of any battle aircraft ever built, an astonishing 230 ft. It was operated from 1949-1959. Although not around for too long, it is still the most enormous mass-produced piston-engineered aircraft known to humankind.

Source: RonaldYoshioka/Pinterest

The fact that the B-36 could deliver any nuclear weapon in the US arsenal without any alterations was what made it unique and special.


The KM (Caspian Sea Monster)

For more than 18 years, the Caspian Sea Monster was the heaviest and largest aircraft in the world. It was built by the Soviet Union in the 1960s, and was continually in the testing shop until 1980 when it encountered a testing accident and was destroyed.

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The aircraft was undetectable to many radar systems because it was flown below the minimum altitude of detection. Although it was an aircraft, it was primarily assigned to the Soviet Navy and utilized by the Soviet Air Force.