1.Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit – $2.1bn
The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit is a US Air Force (USAF) heavy-penetration stealth bomber launched in 1989. The aircraft can infiltrate complex and dense air-defence shields, while it is capable of all-altitude attack operations up to 50,000ft.
B-2’s original unit cost was $737m, making it the most expensive aircraft ever built. However, due to retrofitting and adjustments in 1997, its overall cost now stands at $2.1bn. It costs $135,000/hr to operate.
F-22 Raptor – $350m
The F-22 Raptor is considered to be one of the most highly advanced fighter jets. It is built by Lockheed Martin and Boeing for around $350m per aircraft ($143m unit cost). The total programme cost is around $66bn.
P-8A Poseidon – $290m
The P-8A Poseidon is a militarised version of the Boeing 737-800ERX. It has been produced by Boeing for the US Navy and has an overall procurement cost of around $290m per aircraft. India, Australia, the UK, and Norway are current users of the P-8A, while South Korea purchased six of the aircraft in September 2018.
Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye – $232m
The E-2 Hawkeye was first developed by the Grumman Aircraft Company (now Northrop Grumman) for the US Navy in the late 1950s. It took its first flight in October 1960 and is also currently used by Taiwan, Mexico, Japan, France, and Egypt.
F-35 Lightning II – $115.5m
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II fighter jets are built as part of the 1996 Joint Strike Fighter programme and were introduced in December 2006 (F-35A). The aircraft are produced by Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Pratt and Whitney, and BAE Systems.
Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey – $118m
The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is a multirole combat aircraft featuring a tiltrotor system. It carried out its first flight in March 1989, but crashes during flight testing and unstable funding resulted in several delays until 2007 when the aircraft entered service in the US Marine Corps. The USAF fielded its version of the aircraft (CV-22B) in 2009 and the US Navy plans to use the CMV-22B variant in 2021.
Chengdu J-20 Black Eagle – $110m
The Chengdu J-20 ‘Mighty Dragon’ is a fifth-generation, single-seat, stealth fighter aircraft made by China’s Chengdu Aerospace Corporation. Following its earlier maiden flight in January 2011, it has been deployed in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force since March 2017 and is China’s first stealth aircraft.
J-20s costs around $110m each, while overall programme expenses are estimated to be around $4.4bn.