Military Planes

The Government Accountability Office has released a new report that shows how much it costs to operate various U.S. military planes. 

The information also includes Strategic bombers and assault helicopters. The data shows that operating planes is much more expensive than purchasing them.

The United States has the world’s largest and most powerful military, but maintaining that level of strength is extremely expensive.

Government Accountability Office (GAO)’s Analysis has broken down The costs of operating 47 distinct types of aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and Army. The cost of flying an aircraft typically increases with its age and sophistication.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent body that reports to Congress, has released a report on the cost and availability of operating U.S. military aircraft called Weapon System Sustainment.

The GAO’s data are relevant for simultaneously comparing different types of aircraft in service because they are calculated using the same criteria.

The hourly cost to fly U.S. military planes is below.

a10 Thunderbolt

A-10 Thunderbolt

First up are the fighter planes, among which the A-10 Thunderbolt ground assault is the Pentagon’s most cost-effective armed fixed-wing plane to fly at $22,531 an hour.

Most A-10s in service today were manufactured in the 1980s, making it an older jet. Compared to older planes, the A-10 is easy to maintain, and many decommissioned A-10s are stored in the “Boneyard” in Arizona, making it possible to salvage usable parts at no cost.

Cost-effectiveness is another advantage of the two primary types of multi-role fighters in the Air Force and Navy service. Costing around the same as the A-10.

F-16 Fighting Falcon

The Air Force’s F-16 Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters average $26,927 per hour. 

F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

At $30,404 an hour, the Navy’s newest fleet of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets is also reasonably affordable.

F-22 Raptor

A staggering $85,325 an hour is required to fly the F-22 Raptor, the world’s first fifth-generation fighter and widely considered the best fighter jet.

That’s the total amount owed by 14 American families with an annual income of $70,784 to the federal government in taxes, just enough to keep one F-22 airborne for 60 minutes.

The expensive maintenance of cutting-edge features, such as the plane’s anti-radar stealth and F119 high-performance engines, is what drives up the price.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

All F-35 Joint Strike Fighter versions cost $41,986 per hour to operate. The Air Force F-35A, Marine Corps F-35B, and Marine Corps and Navy F-35C are part of this family.

The F-16 costs around  $ 26,927 an hour and 25% more to operate, causing more expenditure.

This is a major issue because the F-35 was promoted as having similar operating costs to the F-16. The Air Force will either have to reduce its F-35 acquisitions or find a way to pay a higher annual cost going forward.

What About Bombers? 

B-52H Stratofortress

If you believe the GAO, it only costs $88,354 an hour to fly the B-52H Stratofortress, even though it is almost sixty years old and counting.

B-2 Spirit

For an aircraft with eight outdated engines, a crew of five, and the capacity to transport nuclear and conventional weapons—including up to Twelve Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missiles—that is a relatively affordable price. This Bomber is older and relatively difficult to maintain, costing $150,741 per hour. 

B-1B Lancer

The most expensive aircraft is the B-1B Lancer swing-wing bomber, which costs $173,014 an hour to operate and is an older model that is notoriously difficult to repair.


How much it cost to fly US military planes

AH-64 Apache

Quality varies widely among the thousands of helicopters in the military’s inventory. It only costs $5,171 an hour to run the tank-killing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.

UH-60 Blackhawk

The UH-60 Blackhawk, which can transport up to twelve soldiers into battle, costs the Air Force $3,116 per hour.

MH-60R Seahawk

The Navy version MH-60R costs $14,555 an hour. Although it is unclear why the Navy’s version costs five times as much to fly, the Seahawk can undertake more advanced missions such as submarine hunting, anti-surface (ship) warfare, and electromagnetic warfare, which may account for the higher price tag.

AH-1Z Viper

The Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter costs $20,642 per hour, nearly four times as much as the more heavily equipped Apache. Therefore the comparison breaks down. 

Helicopters that spend most of their time in the air over water have four to five times the operating costs of their land-based counterparts.

Other Aircrafts

E 3 sentry

E-3 Sentry

Aerospace vehicles with a specific military function are notoriously costly. Costing $66,126 per hour to operate, the E-3 Sentry is a mobile radar system and aerial command center for battle.


The small fleet of RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft, modeled after the Boeing 707 jetliner and intended to gather intelligence data, has an operating cost of $95,339.


Costing a whopping $372,496 every hour to fly, or $103 per second, the limited fleet of four E-4B National Airborne Operations Center planes are Boeing 747-200 airliners modified into airborne nuclear command posts.

The listed price is usually only 30% of the total cost of a fighter, Bomber, or helicopter. Some pilots have flown thousands of hours worth of flights, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. For example, an F-35 pilot with 800 hours of flight time will cost the government more than $32 million.


Via: Popular mechanics.