The amounts of money being spent on military developments particularly by the United States are incredible. One fighter plane can cost somewhere in the hundreds of millions of dollars. And militaries around the world operate thousands of them. These are the 11 priciest fighters…
In an air battle, having a better fighter plane gives a distinct advantage. If someone is going to be taking on other aircraft, speed, maneuverability, and firepower need to be top-notch, or a fiery descent could be on the horizon, which is never a good thing.
Fighter planes are used by military personnel in different ways. They predominantly perform the function of airspace control, and the only way to do that is by getting rid of enemy aircraft. The opposition isn’t going to just stand and allow itself to be destroyed, so the plane needs to be capable and versatile for offensive, defensive, and evasive purposes.
They weren’t always as outfitted as they are today, as they were initially used as scout planes during the First World War. Eventually, people got the bright idea of using them for combat and other tactical missions. That thought gave rise to what would eventually become the fighter planes of today.
Some fighter planes are night fighters, which are outfitted with special navigation and tactical equipment for investigating dangerous territory at night. There are also day fighters, which have more space and are lighter, thanks to the lack of non-essential components found in night fighters.
There is an almost consistent improvement in state-of-the-art capabilities where fighter planes are concerned. As you can imagine, this has given rise to some incredibly expensive units. Make sure you have a fat bank account if you decide to buy a fighter jet to call your own.
All these models cost millions of dollars, and they are designed to rise above the competition. Without further ado, here’s a look at the 11 most expensive fighter planes.
11. Mikoyan MiG-35 – $50 Million
The Mikoyan MIG-35 first took to the Sky in 2007. Since then, only 10 of them have been built. It houses a crew of one to two persons, and it employs an ASEA radar for navigation. The unit also boasts a better weapon and avionic spread when compared to its predecessors. These weapons include Kh-31P anti-radar missiles, Kh-31A anti-ship missiles outfitted with active radar seekers, KAB-500Kr TV-guided bombs, etc.
Its maneuverability is superb, allowing it to fly at supercritical attack angles. The plane is a testament to aerodynamic engineering, which you can also tell from its 330 m/s climbing rate. The plane’s maximum speed is 2400 km/h, and it tends to be used in normal and ferry ranges of 2,000 kilometers and 3,100 kilometers, respectively.
10. Saab JAS 39 Gripen – $60 Million
The Saab JAS Gripen multirole fighter has been around for quite some time, as its first flight took to the skies in December 1988. Its operational service role started in 1997 when it was incorporated into the Swedish Air Force.
The Gripen aircraft is designed in a few different variations. There is the JAS 39A, the JAS 39B, the JAS 39C, and the JAS 39D. The base design is consistent, with slight seating, cockpit display, and weapon variations.
The aircraft is equipped with MBDA, Raytheon AIM-120B AMRAAM, and Lockheed Martin air-to-air missiles. There are also air-to-surface missiles, which include the Saab RBS15F radar-guided anti-ship missile.
This plane design can achieve speeds of up to 2470 km/h, and it is typically used for combat and ferry ranges of 800 kilometers and 3,200 kilometers, respectively.
9. Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet – $79.8 Million
This aircraft, manufactured by Boeing, first took flight on November 29, 1995. While the Super Hornet is about 25% larger than the previous model (the F/A-18C/D), its structural part content is 25% less.
The Super Hornet has two models, which are the F/A-18E and the F/A-18F. The designs seat one and two crew members, respectively. It has 11 weapon stations, which are supplemented by a couple of wing storage stations. This contributes to many armaments, consisting of the AIM-7 Sparrow, the AIM-9 Sidewinder, the Harpoon SLAM/SLAM-ER, freefall air-to-ground bombs, the BDU-48, etc.
Each of its engines generates our 22,000-pound thrust, which yields a maximum speed of above Mach 1.8 with afterburn.
8. Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker E – $84 Million
Here is yet another multirole fighter. Its first flight took to the skies in 2008, and only six of these planes have been built. The composition takes advantage of light yet strong composite materials for non-structural items, including the door, leading-edge flaps, and the nose wheel.
The Russian fighter plane contains 12 hardpoints dedicated to external weapons and stores. Four of these are on each wing, two are under each engine, and the final two are on the fuselage’s underside.
Its air-to-air arsenal includes the Vympel R-27 and Vympel short-range R-73E. Air-to-surface missiles include the long-range Kh-58UShE anti-radiation missiles, and the Kh-31p. Finally, the anti-ship arsenal consists of the Kh-59MK and the Kh-31A. The Flanker E is also outfitted with guided bombs and a gun.
Its maximum speed is 2,390 km/h, and its ranges are 3,600 kilometers and 4,200 kilometers for normal and ferry applications, respectively.
7. Boeing EA-18G Growler – $100 Million
The Boeing EA-18G growler aircraft is a derivative of Boeing’s Super Hornet. The plane’s point is to allow for tactical jamming, which is primarily geared towards protecting Australian land, air, and sea forces.
It’s operated by the Royal Australian Air Force, which began using them in 2015. Its purpose does not mean it lacks in firepower. The aircraft has two AIM-120C AMRAAM missiles for air-to-air purposes and two AGM-88 high-speed anti-radiation missiles. Since it’s an electronic attack aircraft, it also has two Northrop Grumman ALQ-218(V)2 wingtip pods. These allow for a selective reactive jamming function, thanks to a wideband receiver.
The EA18G growler’s maximum speed is 1,960 km/h, and it can fly as high as 50,000 feet.
6. Chengdu J-20 – $110 Million
The Chengdu J-20 is a Chinese multirole stealth fighter that is one of the later developments in fighter planes. The plane, which seats a crew of one, had its maiden flight in January 2011, and it didn’t enter service until 2018. it is designed to thrive even in hostile conditions where ground attack missions are concerned.
Its armament consists of long-range PL-21 and PL-12C/D air-to-air missiles. It also features anti-radiation missiles, laser-guided bombs, and an internal cannon for close-range combat. The plane can climb at 304 m/s and has a maximum speed of 2,100 km/h.
5. Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk – $111.2 Million
Those are Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk has been retired since 2008, it still stands as one of the most expensive fighter aircraft to date. It holds the honor of being the world’s first operational stealth aircraft.
The surface and edge designs reflect hostile radar signals into beams that are projected away from enemy detectors. There is some tactical fighter ordnance present, including BLU-109B laser-guided bombs, Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles, and Raytheon AGM-88 air-to-surface missiles. It has a top speed of 1100 km/h.
4. Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II – $122 Million
Lockheed Martin developed these single-engine fighters for the US Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and the UK Royal Navy. The F-35C is one of several variations, which includes the F-35A and F-35B. Its cockpit includes stand out avionics, such as side-stick controls, 24-channel GPS with an anti-jam receiver, and digital map software.
There are two load bays with weapons, including AIM-120C AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and brimstone anti-armor missiles. The plane can achieve speeds as high as Mach 1.3 for up to 50 cumulative seconds.
3. McDonnell Douglas F-15EX Strike Eagle – $138 Million
McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) developed this dual-role fighter for tactical and long-range interdiction purposes.
The American made fighter’s weaponry is unbelievably vast, and it can carry up to 23,000 pounds of payloads. Therefore, it’s outfitted with numerous air-to-air, air-to-ground, and air to surface missiles. The F-15EX is also the first-ever aircraft to be equipped with small diameter bombs, of which it can carry 12. There is even a Gatling gun present inside the right-wing root. Its engines provide 29,000 pounds of thrust each, and it can achieve speeds up to Mach 2.5.
2. Eurofighter Typhoon – $162 Million
The first entrant into the top three is a close air fighter unit that possesses surface attack capabilities. It made its debut in 2002 and is expected to continue service until 2040. One of its standout features is its Voice Throttle and Stick system in the cockpit.
The European made fighter can carry various missiles, and the loadout is typically chosen depending on the role. There are combinations for air interdiction, maritime attack, close air support, air superiority, multi role, and suppression of enemy air defense applications. The Eurofighter typhoon can reach a top speed of 2495 km/h, and is one of the fastest fighter jets in the world.
1. Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor – $250 Million
The Lockheed Martin F22-Raptor takes the top spot as the most expensive fighter plane on the market. It made its debut in September 1997 and remains in service today. Though Lockheed Martin offered maintenance on the units for years, none have been produced since 2011. The United States Air Force’s fleet got an upgrade in May 2019, making the application development process more relevant to current technology.
As far as weapons go, the F-22 has an M61A2 Vulcan cannon, AIM-120A AMRAAM missiles, AIM-120C missiles, GBU-322 joint direct attack ammunition, etc. The unit is powered by two Pratt and Whitney F19-100 engines, which allow it to reach a top speed of 2414 km/h.