Modern military fighter aircraft are extremely expensive to procure with the unit cost for a single F-35A coming to $98 million, according to Lockheed Martin LMT -3.65%. That program has already gone down as the most expensive weapons system in history and it’s set to cost $1.509 trillion through to 2070. The amount of money needed to keep America’s cutting-edge military aircraft airborne once they enter service is also considerable.
According to Department of Defense data, the Air Force's two newest fighters are extremely expensive to operate. The F-22A and the F-35A have an hourly operating cost of $33,538 and $28,455 respectively. That’s considerably more than the aircraft they’re set to replace, such as the A-10 which costs just under $6,000 every hour. Air Force attempts to retire the twin-engined attack aircraft have been met with fierce criticism after its success supporting soldiers and Marines on the ground in Afghanistan. The F-16, the workhorse of the Air Force, has hourly operating costs of around $8,000.
Across the Navy and Marine Corps, the cost of keeping aircraft operational is also relatively low in relation to the new 5th generation fighters coming into service. The hourly bill for keeping an AV-8B Harrier in the air comes to around $13,700 while a two-seat FA-18F costs somewhere in the region of $10,500. F-22As have been active bombing ISIS targets in Syria but with such massive hourly operating costs, shouldn’t other platforms be doing the same job at a fraction of the cost?
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