In modern warfare, the key to victory is dominating the skies. For this reason, the world’s superpowers are spending trillions on the most advanced fighter jets.
Countries like the United States and China are working hard to make fighter jets fly faster and farther. Other important considerations include stealth technology and lethality.
The race for air superiority has led to enormous costs. The United States’ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive weapons program of all-time with a price tag over $1 trillion.
Read on for a list of the best fighter jets that money can buy. Explore the advanced technology behind these lethal systems and why they cost so much.
You cannot have a list of fighter jets without naming the F-35. Manufactured by defense contractor Lockheed Martin, the F-35 is a stealth jet with the most advanced tech that money can buy. In the last production order for the F-35, the jet cost $78 million per unit.
To gauge the jet’s popularity, all you need to know is how many countries want in on the program. Eight allied nations partnered with the United States on research and development. Another four countries are committed to buying the F-35 from Lockheed Martin.
In addition, there are 3 different configurations to meet America’s air mission. Lockheed Martin is delivering F-35s to the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corp. One F-35 configuration is capable of short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) aboard air capable ships.
Besides the F-35, the most advanced fighter jet in the United States Air Force’s inventory is the F-22 Raptor. This fighter jet is designed with stealth technology and hits top speeds of Mach 2.
The F-22’s mission is to project air superiority and neutralize any airborne threats to American interests. Simply put, the F-22 was designed to win a dog fight in the skies. For this reason, the F-22 carries six AIM-120 AMRAAMs and two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.
Currently, the F-22 is no longer in production. Lockheed Martin estimates that the per unit cost after restarting the production line will exceed $300 million per plane.
Make no mistake, the United States and Chinese armed forces are in an arms race. This unquestionably extends to the development and production of fighter jets.
China’s response to the cold war for air superiority is the J-20 fighter jet. The J-20 is a stealth fighter jet that is most comparable in size and capability to the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor.
However, China is producing these plans at a cheaper price tag than American alternatives. While there is some mystery around the J-20, industry experts estimate that the unit cost could be as low as $30 million per plane.
This is just a short sample of the best fighter jets. Both Russia and China are developing other impressive planes. The United States has also made impressive modifications to the F-15 and F-18 Super Hornet.
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