The Most Expensive Military Machines Ever Made
Many militaries around the world spend billions of dollars in funding for military machines and operations. Throughout history, many vehicles have been built in order to protect nations, but these usually come with a big price tag.
Anything from the world's most advanced fighter jets to highly armored tanks makes up some of the world's most expensive machines. These are some of the most expensive military machines that have been manufactured throughout time.
DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class Destroyer
The Zumwalt class destroyer is one of three classes of Navy guided-missile destroyers, designed to be used on stealth missions and focus on land attacks. Its primary role is to provide Naval gunfire support with secondary functions such as anti-aircraft and surface warfare.
These are some of the Navy's most significant class destroyers and come with a hefty price tag of $4.2 billion per unit. This advanced new destroyer is designed to keep off of enemy radar using its sloped appearance to dramatically decrease low radar cross-section. The crew for this ship is significantly decreased compared to other destroyers due to its automated firefighting and piping rupture system, giving it a more cost-efficient operation.
The F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine stealth fighter that was developed for the United States Air Force. Its main role is air superiority but can be equipped with ground attack weapons and signal intelligence technology. The Raptor was contracted primarily by Lockheed Martin who built most of the frames and weapons.
Boeing was also contracted to make the wings, avionics integration, aft fuselage, and training systems. The cost of a single F-22 fighter is $150 million per unit and $334 million if you include research and development. Maintenance on these jets is pricey as well coming in at roughly $70,000 per hour of flight.
The Seawolf-class submarine is a nuclear-powered fast attack submarine that serves within the United States Navy. These submarines were intended to fight threats of advanced Soviet ballistic missile submarines and attack submarines. They were designed by General Dynamics Electric Boat and built between 1989 and 2005.
The cost per unit is $3 billion, making it the most expensive fast-attack submarine in the United States Navy and the second most expensive submarine ever. This class of submarine carries torpedos and up to 50 UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles. The program for this class of submarine was supposed to build twelve total ships but was stopped at three due to the end of the Cold War.
The B-2 Spirit is a stealth strategic heavy bomber that is manufactured by Northrop Grumman for the United States Air Force. This stealth bomber uses technology that reduces the reflection and emissions of radar, radio frequencies, and infrared to not be noticed. The Spirit was produced from 1987 to 2000 and is still in service with the Air Force today.
The Spirit has an average cost of $2.13 billion, and there were only 21 units produced out of the 132 planned. The bomber can carry an armament of up to eighty 500-pound guided bombs, or sixteen 2400-pound B83 nuclear bombs. The B-2 is one of the only aircraft that can carry large air-to-surface weapons within a stealth configuration.
USS Gerald R. Ford
The aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford, was named after the 38th President of the United States for his service in the Navy during World War II. The Gerald R. Ford was put into commission in 2017 by President Donald Trump, replacing its predecessor the USS Enterprise. The aircraft carrier would later be deployed by the United States Navy in 2022.
This is considered the world's largest aircraft carrier and warship to ever be constructed. It is powered by two nuclear reactors and has a total of 25 decks. The estimated cost of the project is around $12.8 billion with $4.7 billion in research and development costs. This ship has many improvements over the previous classes of aircraft carriers including better radar and a smaller deck that doesn't require the traditional steam catapults to launch aircraft.
The F/A-18 Hornet is an all-weather, twin-engine multi-role combat aircraft that was designed by McDonnell Douglas and Northrop. It is designed to be as versatile as an attack aircraft and a fighter, which is why it has F/A in its name. This aircraft was formerly used by the famous Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels.
The Hornet had its first flight in 1978 and saw combat in 1986 during the United States bombing of Libya. This aircraft is highly reliable compared to its predecessors and was among the first aircraft to use multifunction displays, which allows pilots to switch between fighter and attack roles. The estimated price of a F/A-18 Hornet in 2006 was around $29 million per unit.
A-10 Thunderbolt II
The A-10 Thunderbolt II is a single-seated, twin turbofan, subsonic attack aircraft manufactured by Fairchild Republic for the United States Air Force. The A-10 is commonly referred to as the "Warthog" and is intended to provide close air support for ground troops. It is designed to be very durable, having 1200 pounds of titanium armor to protect the cockpit and aircraft systems.
The aircraft is able to take off and land from short runways, making it useful for airstrips that are near frontlines. The simple designs of this aircraft make it easy to interchange parts when needed and even allow parts to be switched to either side of the plane including the two engines. The A-10 is equipped with an Avenger Autocannon which is one of the most powerful cannons to be flown on an aircraft. In 1970, the A-10 cost $1.4 million per unit, which is equivalent to $10.1 million today.
Black Hawk Helicopter
The Black Hawk is a twin-engine, four-blade utility military helicopter that is manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. The name derives from the Native American war leader Black Hawk and it entered into service for the United States Army in 1979. This helicopter replaced the UH-1 Iroquois as the U.S. Army's tactical transport.
The Black Hawk has many variants and modifications for use with other branches of the military as well as other nations. The many uses of the Black Hawk include transportation of troops, electronic warfare, and even aeromedical evacuation. The manufacturing cost of a Black Hawk can be up to $25 million depending on the type of variant which is built.
The MQ-4C Triton is a high-altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle developed for the United States Navy. The Triton was manufactured by Northrop Grumman and is used as a surveillance aircraft that can be operated remotely. The main operations for this aircraft are usually over oceans and along coastal regions.
This aircraft has a reinforced airframe as well as de-icing and lightning protection systems that allow it to descend through clouds to provide better views of targets. It is equipped with advanced systems that allow it to take high-definition radar pictures and identify targets based on their speed, location, and classification. The Triton was estimated to have a manufacturing value of $180 million in 2019.
Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV)
This multirole armored fighting vehicle is known as the Boxer and it is produced by the ARTEC GmbH industrial group. This vehicle provides many interchangeable features for a variety of missions and operations. The vehicle is mainly operated by European militaries and it is primarily produced in Germany.
Many armaments can be equipped on this vehicle depending on mission use. A variety of weapons ranging from light machine guns to 30 mm cannons can be equipped. The Boxer is protected by rolled all-welded steel armor that can resist many anti-armor projectiles. The estimated cost that militaries pay per unit ranges from $10 million to $25 million.
Type 10 Tank
The Type 10 is a main battle tank developed for the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The tank entered service in 2012 aiming to replace the older Type 74 and Type 90 battle tanks. The vehicle's armor was vastly improved over its counterparts, making it lighter and more resistant to weaponry.
The Type 10 is equipped with a 120 mm smoothbore gun that fires an Armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot round that is designed specifically for this tank. It also has many electronics that are equipped that can communicate within its system to give them information in real time. The Japanese Ministry of Defense paid $7.1 million per unit in 2010.
The F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine all-weather tactical fighter aircraft that was designed and developed by McDonnell Douglas for the United States Air Force. The F-15 first entered service in 1976 and it became one of the most successful modern fighters having over 100 successful victories and no losses in aerial combat.
This aircraft was developed for mostly air superiority but has secondary capabilities for ground attacks, which were rarely used. The F-15 was planned to be entirely replaced by the F-22 but supply and demand required the Air Force to operate the F-15 into the 2020s. The F-15 costs about $87 million per unit and comes with an operating cost of $27,000 per hour.
Northrop Grumman X-47B
The X-47B is an unmanned combat aerial vehicle that was designed for aircraft carrier-based operations. The aircraft was developed by Northrop Grumman for the United States Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration program.
The X-47B went under extensive flight and operational testing and performed successful land and carrier-based operations. By 2015 the test program was declared completed and the aircraft was intended to become a museum exhibit. The Navy, later on, decided to maintain and keep them in flying condition but were never used in flight operations. There were only two units produced with an estimated cost of $813 million for the entire development program.
F-35 Lightning II
The F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-engine, single-seat, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin. The F-35 was developed for air superiority and strike missions, but it can also be used for electronic warfare and intelligence surveillance.
The aircraft first entered service in 2015 and is expected to be used through 2044. It has two internal weapon bays that hold bombs up to 2500 lbs and air-to-air missiles as well as air-to-surface missiles. The F-35 is equipped with an engine that allows the aircraft to hover in its place providing it with the need to take off and land in a vertical direction. The cost per unit ranges from $69 million to $90 million depending on the variant produced.
The P-8A Poseidon is an American maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft that was developed by Boeing for the United States Navy. The initial design was based on the civilian Boeing 737- 800.
The P-8A has many intended roles such as anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. This aircraft is armed with torpedos and anti-ship missiles as well as sonobuoys to monitor submarine activity. The German military paid $1.6 billion for five Poseidons, which is an average cost of $320 million per unit.
Apache Helicopter (AH-64)
The AH-64 Apache is a twin turboshaft attack helicopter with a tandem cockpit that fits a crew of two. The helicopter was manufactured by Hughes Helicopters and McDonnell Douglas before and is now manufactured by Boeing. It is equipped with a nose-mounted sensor for night vision and target acquisition systems.
Its armament features a 30 mm chain gun and space for Hellfire missiles and Hydra rocket pods. The Apache is the primary attack helicopter of many nations and has seen multiple combat situations around the world. This is considered the most expensive attack helicopter coming in at a cost of $52 million per unit.
The Soryu-class submarines are diesel-electric powered attack submarines used by the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force. This is the first Japanese submarine to be equipped with Stirling engines which allows it to stay submerged for longer periods of time.
The Ōryū is the first submarine in the Soryu-class to be mounted with lithium-ion batteries that help the diesel engine produce power. The submarine is equipped with torpedos and Harpoon missiles as well as electronic warfare technologies. The cost per unit is estimated at about $540 million in USD.
Queen Elizabeth-class Aircraft Carrier
The United Kingdoms Queen Elizabeth-class is a class of two aircraft carriers, the HMS Queen Elizabeth and the HMS Prince of Wales. These two ships are the main components of the UK Carrier Strike Group.
The Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales are the largest warships in the Royal Navy. The ships are powered by two gas turbine engines, four marine diesel engines, and four integrated electric propulsion motors, all of which produce over 200,000 horsepower. The cost of production for both ships was £7.6 billion and they are still in commission today.
The Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer
The Arleigh Burke class is a class of guided missile destroyers that is centered around the Aegis Combat System and the SPY-1D passive electronically scanned radar. This class of destroyers conducts anti-air warfare as well as tactical land strikes. The name Arleigh is dedicated to an American destroyer officer that served during World War II by the name of Admiral Arleigh Burke.
The ships are powered by four gas turbines that generate a total of 105,000 brake horsepower. The Arleigh Burke class is among the largest in the fleet and consists of four separate variants referred to as "Flights." Each ship has a cost of $1.843 billion per unit and has a total of 70 active ships in the world.
Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey
The V-22 Osprey is a multi-mission, tiltrotor military aircraft that has short takeoff and landing as well as vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. The initial design is meant to combine the functionality of a helicopter with the high speeds and ranges of a turboprop aircraft.
The Osprey replaced the Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knights starting in 2007. It was used in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Kuwait as a transport aircraft and medevac. The price of these aircraft stirred controversy when it came to funding this project with each unit costing around $60 million to produce.
The AH-1Z Viper is a twin-engine precision attack helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter for the United States Marine Corps. The Viper was designed to operate at longer ranges than most attack helicopters.
It has many long-range sensors to identify targets from far away, known as the Longbow Fire Control Radar System. It can be equipped with air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles and has enough space to fit Hydra rockets on its hard points. The Viper also has fewer moving parts compared to most four-bladed rotor systems, which makes it easier to maintain. The estimated cost of an AH-1Z Viper is around $31 million per unit.
Northrop Grumman E-2 Advanced Hawkeye
The E-2 Hawkeye is an all-weather carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning aircraft that was manufactured by Northrop Grumman. This aircraft replaced the obsolete E-1 Tracer with new advancements that came with the times. The E-2 Hawkeye has the longest continuous production of any carrier-based aircraft spanning from the 1960s till now.
The Hawkeye is equipped with an APY-9 radar that can detect fighter-sized stealth aircraft. The wings can fold into the sides for use aboard aircraft carriers and is the only carrier-borne aircraft that possesses a large radar dome on its roof. The advanced aircraft can produce a unit cost of around $80 million.
C-17 Globemaster III
The C-17 Globemaster III is a very large military transport aircraft manufactured by Boeing for the United States Air force. This aircraft performs strategic and tactical airlift missions as well as transporting troops and cargo. It has been used in many other roles like medical evacuations and airdrops.
The C-17 is powered by four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines and can carry a payload of up to 170,900 pounds with a maximum takeoff weight of 585,000 pounds. It is also designed to drop paratroopers and their equipment. This multifunctional aircraft draws a hefty price of up to $340 million per unit.
The Schwerer Gustav was an 80-centimeter railway gun developed by Krupp for Germany in the late 1930s. The gun was meant for destroying forts within the French Maginot Line but the gun was not finished in time for the Battle of France. The Gustav was later deployed in the Battle of Sevastopol within the Soviet Union and brought a great force of destruction to the battle.
The gun was the largest caliber rifled weapon to ever be used in combat as well as the heaviest mobile artillery piece to ever be built. The first model that was built required no payment from Germany keeping in model with the Krupp Company tradition. The second and last model developed cost Germany 7 million Reichsmark which accumulates to around $24 million in USD today. The Gustav was destroyed by the Germans in order to prevent its capture by the United States.
Boeing B-29 Superfortress
The B-29 Superfortress is a four-engined propeller-driven heavy bomber that was designed and manufactured by Boeing in the 1940s. This aircraft was designed for high-altitude strategic bombing, but also did low-altitude night bombings. The B-29 was one of the largest aircraft in World War II and had the newest technology of its time.
The Superfortress featured a pressurized cabin and an analog computer-controlled fire system. This allowed the fire control officer to aim and fire four remote machine gun turrets. The B-29 was also the aircraft that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan and it was the only aircraft to ever drop nuclear weapons in battle. The B-29 program was one of the most expensive during World War II coming in at $3 billion at the time, which is equivalent to $45 million today.
The Norden Bombsight
The Norden Bombsight was developed during World War II and was used by the United States Air Force and Navy. The bombsight was a vast improvement over its counterparts, being able to measure aircraft speed and direction as well as use an analog computer to calculate the bomb's impact points.
The sight made it easier for pilots to hit their targets, having only a 75-foot circular error probability which was very accurate at that time. The project that developed the bombsight was very secretive during its test phases and it came with a big price of $1.1 billion. The estimated cost of each sight was around $25,000, a very high price but it was necessary for the war effort.
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)
The THAAD is an American anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to shoot down ballistic missiles. The defense system doesn't carry a warhead, it instead relies on the kinetic energy on impact to destroy missiles.
The THAAD has been deployed in many places such as the UAE, Israel, and South Korea. The defense system went under extensive testing programs to achieve its success. It is said that it has a 100% intercept success rate in flight tests. The estimated cost of research and development for the THAAD program is about $1.135 billion.
The B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber that was designed and built by Boeing. The aircraft has been in service with the United States Air Force since the 1950s and continues to be today. It is able to carry up to 70,000 pounds of weapons and can travel up to 8,800 miles without refueling.
The initial prototype was meant to carry nuclear weapons during the Cold War but has since changed to using only conventional munitions. The B-52 was very costly, ranging from $60 million to $94 million in today's currency.
M113 Armored Personnel Carrier
The M113 is an armored personnel carrier that was produced by the FMC Corporation. It was used by the United States Army Europe in the 1960s during the Vietnam War. These were widely used in many wars and by over 50 different countries. The carrier can hold 11 to 15 passengers and requires a crew of two to operate.
The M113 is highly versatile and provides a wide variety of adaptations depending on the situation. This vehicle was replaced by the M2 and M3 Bradleys but is still used today in a wide variety of different roles. The estimated cost of an M113 is around $300,000 per unit with 80,000 being produced.
Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV)
The ACV is a program that was initiated to obtain an amphibious assault vehicle for the United States Marine Corps. The result of this program was an eight-wheel drive armored fighting vehicle that has amphibious capabilities.
The vehicle can be deployed from an amphibious assault ship and can travel up to eight knots in the ocean with waves up to three feet. The ACV can be equipped with a 50 caliber machine gun and a remote weapon station to mount a Mark 19 grenade launcher. The first phase of vehicles costs around $4 million to produce and the second phase of ACVs costs around $13 million as they are more advanced.
The L-ATV is a light combat utility vehicle that aims to partially replace the Humvee fleet. The vehicle is part of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program which is a program that aims to develop a vehicle that is lighter, stronger, and more defensive.
The L-ATV is designed to withstand an IED explosion comparable to that of the MRAP. This vehicle is lighter than the MRAP and has much more off-road capabilities. It can be outfitted with a variety of light and medium caliber weapons as well as anti-tank missiles and grenade launchers. The average cost of an L-ATV is around $344,000 per unit as of 2017 and an order of around 19,000 units was placed in 2022.
USS Constellation (FFG-62)
The USS Constellation is the lead ship in the Constellation-class of multi-mission guided missile frigates. The ship was named after the first USS Constellation, which is one of the original frigates of the United States Navy from 1794. The construction of this ship began in 2022 and is expected to enter service by 2026.
The frigate is designed to escort aircraft carrier fleets while also being able to defend itself on independent operations. It is equipped with a minimum of 32 Mark 41 Vertical Launch Systems that are mainly for anti-air warfare. There are 20 total ships planned to enter the fleet with only one being built as of today. The estimated cost of these frigates is $850 million to $950 million each.
The SR-71 is a high-altitude, long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft that was manufactured by the Lockheed Corporation. The Blackbird first entered service in 1966 performing aerial reconnaissance missions for the United States Air Force. The aircraft operated at high altitudes and performed high speeds to avoid enemy threats.
The shape of the Blackbird was intentional for stealth capabilities allowing its flat surface to reduce its radar signature. It was equipped with electronic countermeasures to confuse enemy missiles and avoid getting hit. The SR-71 was retired by the Air Force in 1989 and NASA continued using it until 1999 as a research platform. A total of 32 Blackbirds were produced with an average cost of around $34 million per unit.
The KC-10 Extender is an aerial refueling tanker aircraft manufactured by McDonnell Douglas for the United States Air Force. It is a civilian DC-10 Airliner converted into a military-spec refueling tanker. The DC-10 performs a key role in the mobilization of military assets overseas.
The Extender can refuel planes while in flight and also possesses the capability of airlift operations. The fuel is stored within the baggage compartments and can hold up to 356,000 pounds of fuel, a vast improvement over the previous KC-135. There are a total of 60 Extenders produced with a cost of $86.3 million per unit.
Mil Mi-28 (Havoc)
The Mi-28 is an all-weather, two-seat anti-armor attack helicopter developed by Mil for the Russian Air Force. The Havoc is a solely based attack helicopter that is equipped with a 30 mm cannon on its nose and room for supersonic missiles on its pylons.
The cockpit has room for two pilots and is designed for air-to-air and air-to-ground warfare. The aircraft is well-armored and can withstand hits from 12.7 mm armor-piercing rounds. There are a total of 126 units built with an average cost of around $18 million per unit.
The V-2 was the world's first long-range, guided ballistic missile produced by Mittelwerk for Nazi Germany in 1942. It is powered by a liquid propellant rocket engine and was used to bomb allied cities in retaliation to the Allies bombing German cities. The V-2 was also considered the first object to travel into space by crossing the Kármán line before coming down and hitting its targets.
There were more than 3,000 V-2s launched by the Wehrmacht, making it one of the most destructive weapons during World War II. It is estimated that over 9,000 civilians and military personnel were killed by the V-2s. These rockets were very dangerous because there was no effective defense, meaning that if one was fired it was sure to cause destruction and death. The V-2 was estimated to cost 100,000 Reichsmarks which equals to about $250,000 in USD today.
Tiger II Tank
The Tiger II is a heavy German tank that served during World War II and is the successor to the Tiger I tank. The armor of the Tiger was 100 to 185 mm thick and used a sloped pattern to deflect incoming fire. There were supposed to be 1,500 tanks made but only 492 were produced due to Allied bombing raids.
The Tiger was equipped with an 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71 anti-tank cannon that decimated Allied tanks. The first tanks out of production were unreliable because of short testing phases due to the urgency of war. These tanks were developed late in the war and took 300,000 man-hours to produce; an average cost of $4.6 million in USD today.
"Little Boy" And "Fatman" Atomic Bombs
One of the most expensive programs that changed history forever was the Manhattan Project, which was the construction of nuclear weaponry. The "Little Boy" and "Fatman" were two atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These bombs were the first and only nuclear weapons to ever be used in war and detonated within a city.
It was suspected that the two bombings killed anywhere from 129,000 to 226,000 people. This sad moment in history would go on to end World War II with the Japanese surrendering. Many man-hours were put into the research and development of the two bombs. The total cost of the project cost nearly $2 billion, which equals about $24 billion today.
M1 Abrams Tank
The M1 Abrams is an American main battle tank that was manufactured by Lima Army Tank Plant for the United States Army and Marine Corps. The M1 was designed to replace the older M60 tank and has three versions, the M1, M1A1, and M1A2. The M1 first entered service in 1980 and continues to serve under the Army and formerly the USMC.
The Abrams tank has several advanced technologies that make it one of the most advanced battle tanks today. It is equipped with a Rheinmetall 120 mm L/44 smoothbore tank gun and a Softkill Active protection system that redirects missiles to protect the tank. There are about 10,400 M1 Abrams that have been built with each one costing around $10 million per unit.
The Spitfire is a British fighter craft that was used by the Royal Air Force during and after World War II. It was designed to be a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft and served as the main fighter in the Royal Air Force.
The design of the fighter made it have the thinnest possible cross sections making it achieve a top speed greater than most fighters during its time. The Spitfire had many variations and improvements throughout the war, achieving greater speeds and more firepower. This was one of the most expensive fighters to produce, costing an average of £12,604 which equals just under £800,000 today.
The AC-130 is a heavily armed, long-endurance, ground attack gunship that is a variant of the C-130 Hercules transport. It carries a variety of ground attack weapons and relies on visual targeting, unlike most modern military fixed-wing aircraft.
The gunship has a low operating altitude of around 7,000 feet which makes it an easy target. The AC-130 is usually flown on night missions to provide close air support so that it is less noticeable. The cabin is unpressurized and has weaponry mounted on the port side of the fuselage. When the gunship is ready to attack, it performs a pylon turn, circling its targets which provides more time to fire the weapons at the target. The AC-130 can cost $132 million to $190 million depending on the model being made.
Bradley Fighting Vehicle
The Bradley Fighting Vehicle is an armored fighting vehicle platform that was manufactured by BAE Systems Land and Armaments for the United States Army. The Bradley is meant to transport infantry with armored protection and meant to provide covering fire.
There are different variants of the Bradley that serve different purposes with one of them being a scout armored vehicle. The Bradley is designed to keep up with M1 Abrams tanks in order to keep formation and is usually equipped with a 25 mm chain gun and TOW missiles. There are almost 7,000 units produced with a cost of around $4.35 million per unit.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter that is used by multiple nations within Europe. The aircraft was developed by a multinational collaboration to be used as an air superiority fighter.
The Typhoon is very agile and an effective dogfighter in combat, but can also be outfitted for air-to-surface strikes. It is equipped with two Eurojet EJ200 engines that have low fuel consumption and maintenance costs. Many Typhoons were ordered by NATO countries with an average cost of €90 million per aircraft.
Sukhoi Su-35 (Flanker E)
The SU-35 is a twin-engine supermaneuverable aircraft that was manufactured by Sukhoi for the Russian Airforce. The first model was designated the SU-27 and was developed for the Soviet Union in the 1980s. After the Soviet Union fell, the SU-27 was redesignated into the SU-35 to attract export orders.
The SU-35 was later developed and upgraded to have more modern capabilities such as a glass cockpit and improved weapons control systems. It is equipped with an internal 30 mm cannon and 12 hardpoint mounting locations to fit a capacity of 17,630 lbs of ordnance. This aircraft was aimed toward an export market and had an average cost of $40 million to $65 million per unit.
The Chengdu J-20 is a twinjet all-weather stealth fighter aircraft that was manufactured by Chengdu Aerospace Corporation for the People's Liberation Army Air Force. The J-20 is an air superiority fighter with stealth capabilities as well as precision strike capabilities.
The airframe uses a stealth-shaping technique to reduce its radar cross-section. It uses a similar design to the F-22s stealth yielding signature performance. The J-20 is equipped with long-range air-to-air missiles and short-range AAM. This is one of the most expensive fighter jets coming in at $110 million per unit.
MC-130E Combat Talon
The MC-130E is a special operations military transport aircraft used to infiltrate, exfiltrate, and resupply special operations forces. It was designed to support secretive missions during the Vietnam War.
The plane could also be used as an air refueling platform for special operations helicopters. The MC-130 was known for its Fulton surface-to-air recovery system that was used to extract personnel and material while in flight. A helium balloon would be deployed attached to its cargo and the Combat Talon would swoop in and snag the ballon. These special operations planes cost an average of $114 million per unit.
The B-1 Lancer is a supersonic variable-sweep wing, heavy bomber manufactured by Rockwell International for the United States Air Force. This bomber was developed to deliver a large payload with speed and long-range capabilities.
The B-1 program was initially canceled in 1977 due to the high cost and early work on the B-2 stealth bomber. It was later restarted in 1981 due to delays on the B-2 stealth bomber and was introduced as a nuclear bomber in service of the Strategic Air Command. After the Cold War, the bomber was converted into a conventional bomber and served in many operations in the Middle East. The B-1 had an average cost of $317 million per unit.
E-3 Sentry (AWACS)
The E-3 Sentry is an airborne early warning and control aircraft that was developed for the United States and NATO nations. This plane was derived from a civilian Boeing 707 airliner and it provides communications, all-weather surveillance, command, and communications.
The E-3 was built to replace the older Lockheed EC-121 which had been in service for more than a decade. The radars that are equipped on the E-3 use pulse-Doppler technology, which is a radar system that determines the range of targets. The estimated cost for an E-3 is about $330 million per unit.
P-61 Black Widow
The P-61 is a twin-engine fighter aircraft that was used by the United States Air Force in World War II. The manufacturer was Northrop and it was designed to be the first night fighter. The fighter wasn't produced in large numbers but was an effective aircraft for its design.
The P-61 has a twin-boom design with four 20 mm autocannons and four 50-inch machine guns in its turret. This aircraft saw many theaters of war in World War II, ranging from the Pacific Theater all the way to the Mediterranean Theater. There were only 706 P-61s built and they cost around $170,000 in 1942, which equals to about $3 million if you adjust for monetary inflation.