Defense-Aerospace’s Study of Western Fighter Costs
“This report is intended to provide an objective basis for estimating the true costs of combat aircraft for their domestic buyers, at a time when manufacturers, locked in increasingly bitter competition on the export market, routinely inflate the cost of competitors’ aircraft while making demonstrably misleading claims about their own.”
An interesting goal – and a difficult one. Even in the high-transparency environment of Western democracies, estimating the true unit costs of military items is no simple task… and since transparency varies, it is demonstrably harder in some countries than in others. Defense-Aerospace attempts to perform this task for the current set of “modern” western fighter competitors, omitting only the F-16 Block 60 from their survey. Aircraft covered include other upgraded 3rd generation aircraft like Boeing’s upgraded F-15 Strike Eagle variants and the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, 4th generation planes like Dassault’s Rafale, EADS’ Eurofighter, and Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen, and 5th generation entries like Lockheed’s F-35 Lightning II and Boeing’s F-22A Raptor.
The study itself notes that its methodology is necessarily imperfect, but it does provide food for thought and an excellent collection of public-source data. Read “Sticker Shock: Estimating the Real Cost of Modern Fighter Aircraft” [or PDF]