Defense-Aerospace Estimates US Aircraft Costs
In “Sticker Shock: Estimating the Real Cost of Modern Fighter Aircraft,” defense-aerospace attempted to establish baseline prices for various Western fighter aircraft. In “Updated US Military Aircraft Prices (Dec. 2006),” they attempt to get a baseline for US military aircraft and helicopters.
Note that their approach to “Program Cost per Unit” (PCU) used in their chart is to divide the total cost of each program, as stated in the Pentagon’s latest Selected Acquisition Reports, by the number of units to be produced. This means that each PCU includes research and development costs, and even some support costs. Actual acquisition prices tend to be lower, and PCU can be moved significantly up or down if the number of aircraft bought rises or falls. Small-numbers programs are particularly vulnerable to this effect, and will also show up as especially expensive because very few aircraft absorb the entire R&D cost.
Some examples of PCU and numbers for aircraft DID has covered include:
- $ 5.6M UH-145 Light Utility Helicopter (322)
- $ 10.5M ARH-70 Advanced Reconnaissance Helicopter (512)
- $ 26.6M CH-47F Chinook heavy lift helicopter – low R&D (512)
- $ 29.6M MH-60S Naval helicopter (267)
- $ 46.1M MH-60R Multi-mission naval helicopter (254)
- $119.2M MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor (458)
- $121.1M CH-53K Naval heavy lift helicopter (156)
- $219.5M VH-71 “Marine One” Presidential helicopters (28)
- $ 93.9M F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet (494)
- $ 98.4M C-130J Hercules transport (82)
- $102.1M C-5M RERP refurbish/re-engining (111)
- $104.6M EA-18G Growler (80)
- $111.1M RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV (54)
- $122.0M F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (2,458)
- $233.2M E-2D Advanced Hawkeye naval AWACS (75)
- $286.6M P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (114)
- $328.8M C-17A Globemaster III (190)
- $354.9M F-22 Raptor (184)
Note that all production numbers represent US purchases only.