Aerospace & Defense

The 10 Most Expensive Weapons in the World

5. F/A-18E/F Super Hornets
> Type: fighter jet
> Total Cost: $57.8 billion
> R&D: $7.3 billion
> Procurement Cost: $50.5 billion
> Total Units: 556
> Price per Unit: $90.8 million

The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter aircraft is a modernized version of the heavily-utilized F/A 18 Hornet. The plane, which comes in a single-seat (E) and two-seat version (F) is primarily used by the Navy and stationed on aircraft carriers. The F/A 18 E/F carries a massive array of weaponry, including a 20 mm gun and eleven separate weapons stations, which can carry air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and laser-guided bombs. The Super Hornet is one of the few Navy fighters that will not be phased out by the F-35 joint strike fighter. Each Super Hornet costs the military upwards of $90 million, not counting development costs. The Department of Defense has 556 on its budget.

4. F-22 Raptor
> Type: stealth fighter jet
> Total Cost: $79.2 billion
> R&D: $40.5 billion
> Procurement Cost: $37.9 billion
> Total Units: 188
> Price per Unit: $211.6 million

The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is arguably the most advanced fighter jet in the world. It is also the most expensive, costing $211 million per jet. Just 10 of these aircraft combined are worth more than the GDP of Greenland. The DOD currently has 188 on its budget. The Raptor, which first came into operation in 2005, is an extremely fast stealth fighter and is designed to identify, track and take out targets before it is ever actually seen. The fighter is equipped with two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, six medium-range air-to-air missiles, a 20 mm gatling gun, two 1,000 pound bombs and eight 250 pound bombs.

3. Virginia Class Submarine
> Type: nuclear submarine
> Total Cost: $83.7 billion
> R&D: $7.2 billion
> Procurement Cost: $76.6 billion
> Total Units: 30
> Price per Unit: $2,552.6 million

The Virginia Class submarines are arguably the most advanced nuclear subs in the world. The Virginia is 377 feet long and weighs 7,800 tons, or the equivalent of 821 school buses. The massive underwater craft is produced by General Dynamics (NYSE; GD) Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding, which are the only two shipyards capable of building nuclear subs. The Virginias carry 38 different weapons, including Tomahawk Cruise Missiles, mines and torpedoes. While eight are currently in operation, the Department of Defense has 30 of these $2.5 billion subs budgeted.

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2. DDG 51 Destroyer
> Type: destroyer
> Total Cost: $101.8 billion
> R&D: $5.1
> Procurement Cost: $96.6 billion
> Total Units: 75
> Price per Unit: $1,299.3 million

The DDG 51, also known as the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, has been in service since 1991. By now, there are roughly 60 in active service, with another 15 in the Department of Defense’s budget. Each warship is more than 500 feet, stem to stern, with the second, larger generation of Arleigh Burkes displacing roughly 9,200 tons. The destroyer is produced by a large group of contractors, including Bath Iron Works, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman. The crew on each is roughly 350 servicemen. The newest generation is equipped with two vertical launching systems for tomahawk missiles, a 5″ gun, torpedoes and an advanced mine-detection system.

1. Joint Strike Fighter
> Type: multi-role fighter jet
> Total Cost: $326.5 billion
> R&D: $58.4 billion
> Procurement Cost: $267.6 billion
> Total Units: 2,457
> Price per Unit: $109.5 million

The F-35 Lightning II multirole jet fighter, which is still under development, integrates advanced stealth technologies and sensor systems with supersonic speed. The military intends the relatively low-cost flexible stealth fighters to perform several different roles, such as air-to-surface, air-to-air and reconnaissance missions. Lockheed Martin and its partners are developing three separate aircraft using one chassis. The F-35A will use standard takeoff and landing and will be used primarily by the Air Force. The F-35B will have short takeoffs and vertical landings and be used by the Marines. The F-35C will be able to take off and land on carriers. The Department of Defense has budgeted nearly 2,500 of the aircraft, with each costing just under $110 million. The total price tag is $326.5 billion.

-Douglas A. McIntyre & Micheal B. Sauter

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