Forum members are quick to point out that the MiG-25 and possibly the MiG-31 have the highest top speed of any operational fighter. Speeds close to Mach 3 are often claimed for these aircraft.
It is noteworthy that they are powered not by turbofans, but by Tumansky water-injected turbojets. To my knowledge, no recent Wesern fighters have tubojets or for that matter, water injection.
A couple of questions:
1. Is the powerplant technology on these aircraft the reason for their unmatched speed in an operational fighter? If so, why is it better than the more common turbofan? Did Tumansky develop a means to reduce or eliminate contrail generation, a feature likely to increase the aircraft's survivability?
2. The USA did not field the B-70 bomber in operational service. It was this aircraft that reportedly led to the development of the MiG-25. Why did Russia continue with operational deployment of an aircraft that possesses great top speed, but likely is lacking in the ability to engage in maneuvering air combat?
3. Regarding external weapons carriage by these aircraft. At very high speed, thermal limitations on the airframe must be respected, and the effects on weaponry must also be calculated. The performance of IR weapons in particular is likely to suffer in an elevated temperature invironment. Also, the increased drag on a missile at Mach 2.5+ would lessen the launch speed differential from the carrying platform unless a tremendously large booster were used. I pose these problems to question the ability of the MiG-25 to engage targets at its designed Mach limit. Any answers?