27 Of The Baddest Military Vehicles Ever Made

In 2019, the Department of Defense was given a budget of $686.1 billion for military spending. The number, which ballooned from $612 billion just four years before, was described as “$617 billion for the base budget and another $69 billion for war funding.” With all that money being pumped into our armed forces, it’s no surprise the United States military has some of the most intimidating armed vehicles in the world. Keep reading to learn about some of the biggest and most loaded vehicles in the American arsenal!

The M1117 Guardian Can Reach Freeway Speeds

In the world of military vehicles, how fast you can go is not always the most important question to ask. The power provided by the engine is used for multiple purposes, oftentimes turning top speed into an afterthought.

m1117 military vehicle
Franz J. Marty/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Franz J. Marty/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The M1117 flips that narrative on its head and can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. In comparison, most large military vehicles only reach top speeds between 25 and 45 miles per hour.

The M2 Bradley Has Room For 10

The M2 Bradley is a combat vehicle through and through. The heavily armored tank can reach top speeds of 35 miles per hour, can hold 10 soldiers at a time, features a 600-horsepower engine, and is loaded with a 22 mm Bushmaster cannon and armor-piercing missiles.

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CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

To make sure no one is left stranded on the battlefield, the M2 also holds up to 155 gallons of fuel. It can go the distance, and then some!

The Buffalo Clearance Vehicle Helps Get Mines Out Of The Way

A massive vehicle that weighs 76,000 pounds and measures 27 feet long, the Buffalo Clearance Vehicle is one of the most important in the military’s arsenal. Known as a mine-protected route clearance vehicle (MPCV), it can reach speeds of 55 miles per hour and has a 30-foot robotic arm with an attached camera and sensory devices to help clear dangerous routes for other vehicles.

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DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images
DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images

The Buffalo was also designed with a V-shaped hull that keeps explosive impact from mines to the minimum.

The Global Hut Is A Tow Truck For Tanks

Not every tank is built with a gas tank big enough for long-distance travel. When the military needs to move a short distance assault tank a long distance, they turn to the Oshkosh Global Heavy Equipment Transporter (HET).

military het vehicle
Sean Chang/Wikimedia Commons
Sean Chang/Wikimedia Commons

The six-wheeled heavy-duty vehicle is capable of 700 horsepower and runs on a Caterpillar C18 engine. The overall payload capacity is 72 tons, making it t the perfect vehicle to transport large tanks to near their target destinations.

The MI1A2 Was A Long Time In The Making

Military tanks take a long time to build, test, and approve. The M1A1 was first deployed in 1980 and was one of the military’s top tanks until the M1A2 was brought into the fold. It took over a decade for the upgraded vehicle to be deployed, and it was worth the wait.

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Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The MIA2 Abrams Main Battle Tank has the same frame as its predecessor but is built with depleted uranium armor for better overall protection. It has more tech capabilities and a more efficiently designed commander’s weapon station, as well.

The M142 HIMARS Is Like A Rocket Launcher On Wheels

With enough room for three people, the lightweight M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is a weapon on wheels. The mobile rocket launcher is capable of launching one MGM-140 ATACMS missile or six M270 rockets up to 186 miles away.

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Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images
Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images

Even more incredible, the HIMARS can reach top speeds of more than 50 miles per hour and has an overall travel range of 300 miles. It was developed by Lockheed Martin and can be transported by the Lockheed C-130 Hercules when needed.

Is There Anything More Classic Than A Humvee?

You didn’t think we would write a list about the best military vehicles and not include the Humvee, did you? One of the longest-standing vehicles in the American brigade, the Humvee was so popular at one point that it was manufactured and sold by GMC as a consumer vehicle.

military vehicle
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

The consumer Humvee, of course, was largely different than the military vehicle, which comes with protective armor, plenty of weaponry, and a 6.5-liter diesel engine with four-wheel-drive.

The Stryker Combat Vehicle Provides The Perfect Cover

As troops are transported to locations or to new battle areas, they need cover. The Stryker Combat Vehicle was designed and is used to provide that hugely important necessity.

stryker combat vehicle
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Stryker has eight wheels and is ammunition resistant for several kinds of weapons fire. In 2016, the military even began arming the vehicle with anti-tank guided missiles as another way to further ensure the safety of soldiers.

The AAV7 Amphibious Assault Vehicle Owns The Land And Sea

Used for marine operations, the AAV7 is capable of being used on both the land and in the water. It takes a crew of three to operate and can handle an additional 25 soldiers.

aav7 land and sea vehicle
KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP via Getty Images
KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP via Getty Images

On land, the AAV7 has an impressive range of 300 miles. While in the sea it is much more limited, maxing out at 20 miles. To help defend the troops inside, the vehicle has a 25 mm Bushmaster cannon and a 40 mm grenade launcher.

Lockheed C-5 Galaxy

The C-5 Galaxy is an absolutely incredible plane that provides the U.S. Air Force with a heavy intercontinental airlift capable of carrying oversized loads with ease.

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Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It’s one of the largest military aircraft in the world and is extremely expensive to build. The cheapest model of the C-5 goes for around $100.37 million and can range up to about $224.29 million. It still remains active today but was originally introduced in 1970.

Antonov An-124

The 226-foot aircraft was built by the Antonov Design Bureau in the 1980s and has since become synonymous in both military and commercial aviation. There was more than 50 of them produced and used around the world.

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Wikimedia / Bushman787
Wikimedia / Bushman787

It was a strategic airlift quad-jet that was the heaviest cargo airplane for thirty years and the second-heaviest cargo aircraft in the world. It was surpassed by the Antonov AN-225 which you’ll be able to read about very shortly.

HK-1

The HK 1, or the “Spruce Goose” as it was more widely known because it was made almost entirely out of birch, was originally meant to be a transatlantic transport aircraft during the Second World War. The only problem was that it wasn’t finished in time to actually be put into service.

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Frederic Lewis/Getty Images
Frederic Lewis/Getty Images

The U.S. military ended up only flying it once in 1947 and only one prototype was ever built. It’s now on display at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.

Antonov AN-225 Mriya

This strategic airlift cargo aircraft is powered by six turbofan engines and is the longest and heaviest plane ever built.

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Paul Kane/Getty Images
Paul Kane/Getty Images

It was originally developed to transport the Buran spaceplane for the USSR in the 80s. It can take off with a maximum weight of 640 tons and has the longest wingspan of any aircraft at the time it was built, and out of any current operational aircraft in the world.

Ilyushin Il-76

This aircraft was built during the tensest moments of the Cold War and still remains active to this day. In fact, there are 1,000 of them in operation around the world.

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Marina LystsevaTASS via Getty Images
Marina LystsevaTASS via Getty Images

Originally developed for the USSR, the Ilyushin II-76 was a multi-purpose, four-engine turbofan airlifter that was supposed to be a commercial freighter but ended up being adopted by the Russian military. It’s capable of delivering some of the heaviest machinery and military vehicles in the world.

Convair B-36 Peacemaker

The Convair B-36 Peacemaker was operated by the United States Air Force from 1949 until 1959. It had a fairly short lifespan, but still remains the largest mass-produced piston-engined aircraft ever built.

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Universal History Archive/ UIG via Getty Images
Universal History Archive/ UIG via Getty Images

It had the longest wingspan of any combat aircraft ever built at 230 ft. The B-36 was special in that it was capable of delivering any nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenals at the time without any modifications. It ended up being replaced by the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress near the end of the 50s.

Boeing C-17 Globemaster III

The C-17 Globemaster III is one of the biggest military planes to hit the skies. The Globemaster III was first delivered in 1991 and was produced up until 2015 before it was discontinued. The per-unit cost was about $218 million and was created by McDonnell Douglas.

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Marina LystsevaTASS via Getty Images
Marina LystsevaTASS via Getty Images

It was used for strategic and tactical airlift missions that would often include airdrops of heavy machinery or people and immediate medical evacuations. This thing is an absolute beast.

Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules

Any aircraft that has the word “Hercules” in the title, nevermind “Super Hercules,” is going to be a force to be reckoned with. The C-130J first took flight in 1996 for the U.S. Air Force and has since been delivered to 15 other nations who have placed orders.

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RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images
RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images

It’s a four-engine turboprop transport plane that has been in continuous production longer than any other military aircraft in history. While this exact model is roughly two decades old, the Hercules family has been around for nearly six.

Martin JRM Mars

The Martin JRM Mars is a four-engine seaplane that was popularized during World War II. It was the largest seaplane that was used by the Americans and other Allied forces during the War.

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Education Images/UIG via Getty Images
Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

There were only seven of them built despite how impressive and effective they were. Four of the remaining flying boats transitioned into civilian use after the war was over. They turned into firefighting water bombers which made them even more useful. Those models have since been retired.

Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker

There’s no easy way to refuel strategic bombers, but that’s exactly what the KC-135 Stratotanker’s task is. It was used a lot during the Vietnam War for the Americans and would become a huge strategic benefit in Operation Desert Storm.

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aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images
aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images

It’s interesting to note that the KC-135 and the Boeing 707 were both developed from the same aircraft (the Boeing 367-80). The 136 ft aircraft became revolutionary in that it was the United States Air Force’s first ever jet-powered refueling tanker.

NASA Super Guppy

This was the very first aircraft to be made by Aero Spacelines. The plane was designed for cargo, which should be pretty obvious just by having a quick glance. It was the successor to the Pregnant Guppy, and all Super Guppys currently remain in service.

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Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

There have been five planes built in two different variants of the Guppy aircraft which have been referred to as “Super Guppy.” It’s pretty obvious how it got its name, so we won’t even go there.

Xian H-6 Bomber

The H-6 Bomber was first delivered to the Chinese military in 1958 and has enjoyed quite an impressive and successful career. While the Chinese didn’t end up getting too much use out of it, the Iraqi and Egyptian Air Forces certainly did. In fact, the Iraqi Air Force retired the plane in 1991, while the Egyptian Air Force would retire the plane in 2000.

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Marina LystsevaTASS via Getty Images
Marina LystsevaTASS via Getty Images

It’s a variation of the Tupolev Tu-16 twin-engine bomber that was originally built for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

Boeing E-3 Sentry

The Boeing E-3 Sentry is an American airborne early warning and control aircraft. It’s used by the U.S. Air Force to provide all-weather surveillance, command, control, communications and constant updates.

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Diane S. Robinson/U.S. Air Force/Getty Images
Diane S. Robinson/U.S. Air Force/Getty Images

The E-3 is distinguished by distinctive rotating radar domes above the fuselage. There was 68 of these built before they stopped production in 1992. The radars used pulse-Doppler technology which played a crucial role in directing coalition aircraft against the enemy in Operation Desert Storm.

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is an American, long-range, jet-powered, strategic bomber. It has been in use by the United States Air Force since the 1950s and has the capability to carry up to 70,000 pounds of weapons. Without the need to refuel, the bomber can travel up to 8,800 miles.

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aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images
aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images

Originally built to carry nuclear warheads during the Cold War, it replaced the Convair B-36. The plane has remained active in service since 1955 and as of 2015, 58 were still in active service with 18 in reserve.

Airbus Beluga

The Airbus A300-600ST or “Beluga,” is a wide-body airliner that has been modified to carry aircraft parts and oversized cargo that most other planes wouldn’t have been able to fit. While it was officially named the Super Transporter, its nickname the “Beluga” stuck, as is resembles a beluga whale.

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aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images
aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images

It entered service in 1995 and largely replaced the Super Guppy, serving numerous different countries in Europe. It has a payload bay that is 124-feet long that allows it to carry almost 52 tons.

Antonov An-22

The Antonov An-22 was a plane that was produced for only a ten-year period between 1966 and 1976. However, the model that was introduced at the 1965 Paris Air Show was different from the rest that were produced which ended up having a nose-mounted radar.

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Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Designed in the USSR by the Antonov Design Bureau, it has four turboprop engines which power contra-rotating propellers. It was also the first wide-body transport aircraft in the world.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress

Manufactured between the years 1943 and 1946, the B-29 Superfortress were designed for battle in World War II and were the single most expensive weapons project undertaken by the United States during World War II. The planes had a four-engine prop and were so effective in World War II, that they were even used in the Korean War as well.

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aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images
aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images

When first being produced, it was one of the most highly technological planes in the sky with the design process being more expensive than the Manhattan Project.

Tupolev Tu-160

The Tupolev Tu-160 is currently the largest and heaviest combat aircraft in use. It belongs to the Russian Air Force and first began being used in 1987, making it one of the last strategic bombers designed for the Soviet Union before its dissolution.

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TASS via Getty Images
TASS via Getty Images

It is a supersonic plane that is mostly used as a strategic bomber. Currently, it is the heaviest and largest military-type aircraft that has the ability to surpass the speed of Mach 2.