Special Report

What the US Military Spends the Most Money On

The U.S. government spent $6.8 trillion in 2021, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The largest shares of this money went to income security, social security, and health. The fourth-largest component of the budget was national defense, accounting for $754.8 billion in spending, or around 11% of total outlays. While much of this funding goes to compensating active duty personnel, $250 billion funded the development and procurement of weapons systems.

The U.S. has by far the largest military budget in the world, spending billions each year on new planes, submarines, missile systems, and more. Some of these implements are so large, advanced, and complex that it costs hundreds of millions – if not billions – of dollars to make just one. (For example, it costs $9 billion to make the world’s largest warship.)

To determine America’s most expensive weapons, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the U.S. Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request. Only items that were procured in fiscal year 2021 were considered. Costs were determined to be the total amount spent per single vehicle, weapon, or system procured.

Nearly all of the items on this list are vehicles – planes, nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, armored vehicles, and more. Many of these vehicles are designed to have both transportational and combat capabilities, all while being armored to protect the troops inside. 

Some of the most expensive items in the military’s budget are not on this list simply because they are still in development and do not yet have a final price tag. For instance, the military spent over $2.7 billion in 2021 developing the B-21 Raider, a long-range strike bomber plane. The Department of Defense has requested over $5 billion to continue development and procurement of the planes, though they are not expected to be delivered to bases until “the mid-2020’s” per the budget request.

In the military’s budget request, the costs of any single entry is broken down into two categories: 1. research, development, test, and evaluation; 2. procurement. Scientists are tasked with creating new methods of warfare to give American troops an advantage in any situation. Some of these innovations have uses beyond the battlefield and have since become parts of everyday household items. These are the popular commercial products you never knew were invented by the military.

Click here to see what the US military spends the most money on

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