After months of congressional delays, U.S. president Joe Biden signed the 2023 defense budget, approved by Congress, in late December. The act approved the Pentagon to spend $816.7 billion on defense in the current fiscal year, and recently, the Department of Defense released its fiscal year 2024 budget request, asking lawmakers to approve an $842 billion budget — about $26 billion more than the current budget and $100 million more than fiscal year 2022.
Whatever the final FY2024 Pentagon budget turns out to be, by the time it reaches the president’s desk later this year one thing is certain: The United States will continue to be a big global outlier in defense spending as the nation invests heavily on maintaining its air, land, and sea military superiorities with new, upgraded – and often extremely expensive – hardware. (Here is how the world’s top military spenders compare to the U.S.)
To identify the 25 most expensive new weapons the military is buying next year, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the DOD’s recently-released Fiscal 2024 Budget Request. To find the cost of each weapons system we divided the total requested budget allocation of each weapons system by the number of units requested. These unit cost figures may not always be equivalent to the total sticker price of a given weapon for reasons including rounding; spending on research, development, testing, and evaluation; planned modifications to existing weapons; or because often part of the budget for a particular weapon is early payment on weapons that will be bought in years to come. All data is from the DOD budget proposal, Program Acquisition Cost By Weapons System document. (Also see, the 35 billion-dollar weapons in the 2024 U.S. military budget.)
While all 25 weapons on the list have a budget allocation of more than $10 million, two have total FY2024 budget allocations that top $10 billion. One of these highest-ticket allocations is an order for 83 high-tech F-35 fighter jets for $10.2 billion, a year after the DOD allocated $9.1 billion in FY2023 for 77 of these jets. The DOD has also allocated $10.6 billion for two Virginia class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines. In FY2023, the DOD allocated $17.6 billion for two of these submarines.
Eight other weapons have FY2024 budget allocations of between $1.7 billion and $5.9 billion, a list that includes two Arleigh Burke destroyers for $4.6 billion and a newcomer to the list of costliest weapons: the $5.9 billion USS Columbia (SSBN-826) next generation nuclear ballistic missile submarine. This vessel is currently under construction at the General Dynamics Electric Boat facility at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, with an expected delivery date of 2027, followed by years of testing before its first patrol, according to the U.S. Naval Institute.
Nine of the weapons systems on the list, costing between $968 million and $5.9 billion per unit, will be used by the U.S. Navy, reflecting just how costly it is to maintain U.S. naval superiority relative to other branches of the military. Five of these high-cost weapons will go to the U.S. Army, including 50 Black Hawk and 42 new or remanufactured Apache helicopters, each costing $18.3 million and $19.7 million, respectively, and 34 modified or upgraded M-1 Abrams tanks at $23.5 million apiece.
The U.S. military is investing $54.4 billion on these 25 weapons systems in the upcoming fiscal year. Here are the most expensive new weapons the U.S. military is buying next year.
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