Top 10 Expensive Fighter Jets In The World

Ken Hyde

By Ken Hyde

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Fighter aircraft, which combine technical innovation, speed, and firepower, represent the pinnacle of military strength. There is a fierce rivalry and an unrelenting quest for dominance in the field of fighter planes. Still, how much does a fighter jet cost? 

Since gaining air superiority is expensive, some of the top sophisticated aircraft on the planet are also the priciest. Some might even cost millions of dollars! Let’s look at the price of the most expensive plane in the world. We guarantee you will be surprised!

Top 10 Most Expensive Fighter Jets

For those who are curious, the three most expensive jets at the moment are the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit at $2.1 billion, the Air Force One at $660 million, and the F-22 Raptor at $350 million. These are just production expenses, and the operational costs will add up to their total fee.

10. Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II- $89.2 – 115.5 Million

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

The Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft comes in three different versions: the F-35A ($89.2 million), F-35B ($115.5 million), and F-35C ($107.7 million). All things considered, the F-35A, B, and C versions are distinct aircraft.

Operating expenditures for each aircraft average around $35,000 per hour, and throughout the course of the program’s 50-year lifespan, prices are estimated to rise to $1.5 trillion. This makes the series one of the priciest military procurement programs.

Furthermore, the most recent fifth-generation fighter jets have some of the highest operational expenses in the world, which makes purchasing and maintaining the aircraft very costly. The F-35’s unit cost has climbed since 2022 because of inflation, decreased production, and enhanced capabilities.

9. Boeing F-15EX – $117 Million

Boeing F-15EX

The F-15EX proves that it was never intended to be inexpensive with a production cost of $177 million and hourly operating cost of $29,000. It is more reasonably priced than the most sophisticated 5th generation planes and is created to replace the previous C and D versions. The main cause behind this affordability is operating expenses.

For those who don’t know, the cost of operating this jet is only equivalent to one-third of the F-35’s. Shocking, right? This means the Air Force would have to purchase three F-35As rather than one in order to fly the same hours as an F-15EX. Or, to put in another way, they can get 20,000 hours of operational life for each F-15EX, as opposed to 8,000 hours for the F-35.

8. Eurofighter Typhoon – $124 Million

Eurofighter Typhoon

The Eurofighter Typhoon, which made its debut in 1994, is one of the world’s priciest and most sophisticated fighter jets out there. Airbus, Leonardo, and BAE Systems came together and designed this aircraft with the goal of creating an air-superiority fighter.

EU members who contributed to the construction of this outstanding Eurofighter Typhoon jet can purchase it for as little as $50 million. Still, the export price for other nations is significantly higher. Airbus offered India these fighter jets in 2018 for €138 million apiece.

7. Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye – $232 Million

Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

The $232 million E-2D Advanced Hawkeye made its first flight in August 2007. This outstanding aircraft was equipped with a number of advanced technologies, such as the capacity to coordinate and communicate with any vessel, whether it be coastal, overland, or open sea.

Its top speed is 402 mph, and its maximum takeoff weight is 57,500 lbs. With five crew members, the Northrop Grumman E-2D Hawkeye can travel 2,708 kilometers at a time, reach a maximum operating altitude of 34,700 feet, and rise at a speed of 2,515 feet per minute.

Moreover, its mechanical and electrical active scan radars were upgraded (APY-9). Offering first responders and combined forces vital, actionable data, the Advanced Hawkeye has a two-generation increase in radar sensor performance and a strong network-enabled capability. Warfighters may now engage in active conflict more quickly because of these advancements, which provide them with the situational information they need.

6. VH-71 Kestrel – $241 Million

VH-71 Kestrel

AgustaWestland, Bell Helicopter, and LMSI (Lockheed Martin Systems Integration) collaborated to design the Kestrel. Following many delays, cost overruns, and technical difficulties—including significant changes mandated by the US government—the aircraft made its inaugural flight in July 2007.

The US Navy terminated the contract in 2009 due to the increase in price to $13 billion for 28 jets. Canada paid $164 million for these aircraft, which it utilized as a source of replacement parts for the AgustaWestland CH-149 helicopters.

It had three very powerful 1,879kW General Electric CT7-8E turboshaft engines, capable of supporting four people. Regarding power, the VH-71 could go 1,400 kilometers at its fastest speed of 193 mph.

5. P-8A Poseidon – $290 Million

P-8A Poseidon

A modified Boeing 737-800ERX, known as the P-8A Poseidon, is intended for military use. It costs around $290 million for each aircraft to purchase new. Furthermore, this flying machine can drop and track. The P-8A is widely used in powerful air forces, such as the Indian Navy, the Air Forces of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the US Navy.

The aircraft was initially flown in April 2009 and presented to the US Navy in November 2013. In addition to its ability to conduct electronic support operations such as early-warning self-defense, shipping interdiction, and anti-submarine warfare, the P-8A can detect and attack hostile submarines. It also has combat-ready air-launched missiles guided by radar.

The aircraft can travel 60 meters above the water at 333 km/hr and cruise at about 926 km/h. It is equipped with two high-bypass turbofan engines that have a thrust of 27,000 pounds apiece.

4. C-17 Globemaster III – $328 Million

C-17 Globemaster III

The C-17, jointly produced by Boeing Defense and McDonnell Douglas, came into service in January 1995. Although its expected overall cost throughout the aircraft program is $328 million to $368 million, its flyaway cost is $218 million.

In terms of its design and equipment, this expensive aircraft is propelled by four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines, each  with 40,440lb of thrust. In addition to transporting and dropping 102 paratroopers, the C-17’s spacious door and aft ramp system facilitate substantial loading of Air Force equipment.

The manufacturer offers C-17 clients worldwide maintenance and support in eight partner nations, emphasizing great performance at a reasonable cost. With the greatest level of readiness globally, the C-17 fleet performs at a mission-competent rate and has a combined dollar per hour that is best in class.

3. F-22 Raptor – $350 Million

F-22 Raptor

The F-22 Raptor is among the most sophisticated combat planes in existence. Boeing and Lockheed Martin built each powerful aircraft for about $350 million ($143 million per unit). This doesn’t include the significant research and development expense, bringing the total program bill of the F-22 fighter jet to around $66 billion.

The USAF acquired complete operational capabilities for the aircraft in 2005, despite its 1997 unveiling. With its 5th-gen technology, it is a single-weapons platform that combines enhanced stealth technology, handling, and sensor fusion. It measures 62 feet long, 16.7 feet tall, and 44.5 feet wide. At 62,000 km/min, the F-22 can achieve 2,960-km range.

The final F-22 was delivered in May 2012. This advanced fighter jet is no longer produced because of its high manufacturing costs and maintenance challenges. Nonetheless, the USAF said in 2017 that it intended to continue operating the F-22 Raptor until 2060.

2. Air Force One – $660 Million

Air Force one

Here’s a fun fact: Air Force One is the name of the two Boeing VC-25s transporting the US president. The advanced fighter aircraft are heavily modified Boeing 747-200 military models with added air defense and sophisticated communications systems.

These Boeing VC-25s cost $325 million for each unit and started to serve in 1990. The total cost of production for both aircraft is around $660 million. The hourly fee for operating both planes might reach $206,000.

Performance-wise, the Air Force One can cruise at a maximum speed of 500 knots. It has a 7,800-mile in-flight capability and can reach altitudes of up to 45,100 feet. The in-flight refueling capabilities of the aircraft significantly increase the maximum distance.

1. Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit – $2.1 Billion

Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit

Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit was first introduced in 1989, and up to now, it is still widely known as the best heavy penetration stealth bomber of USAF (US Air Force). It can conduct all-altitude strike operations of 50,000 feet and penetrate intricate and dense air defense defenses.

The B-2 is the most high-priced aircraft ever manufactured, with an upfront cost of $737 million per unit. But as of 1997, with retrofitting and modifications, the total cost is now $2.1 billion. Operating expenses per hour are $135,000.

McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle assisting on the flight Nor

Two primary defenses of the B-2 against radar detection are its continuous curvature design and its expensive “alternate high-frequency material” stealth coating. Ever since its release, each aircraft has received general modifications every seven years, which cost a total of $60 million.

The Bottom Line

So there you have the list of the 10 most expensive military aircraft! As you can tell since a jet’s “ticket price” is negotiable, it may likewise change. Fighter planes are very costly military equipment and technical wonders.

These planes are incredibly expensive to build, produce, and maintain—some versions may cost billions of dollars. However, their cutting-edge features and sophisticated capabilities frequently compensate for their exorbitant price.

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Ken W Hyde

Ken W Hyde

Ken W Hyde is the founder of The Wright Experience™. He is passionate about antique airplanes and has restored many of the Wright brothers' planes, including the 1918 Curtiss Jenny and the 1903 Wright Flyer. He is also a pilot and mechanic who has worked for Capital Airlines, Bendix Corporation, and American Airlines.

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