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Most expensive military weapons and programs

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U.S. Air Force // Wikimedia Commons

Most expensive military weapons and programs

Government budget proposals don’t exactly make for the most scintillating reading. Still, they’re one of the best ways to gain insight into the nation’s priorities—after all, the way you spend your money says a lot.

In particular, civilians can learn about military operations by reading through the weapons and programs the government plans to invest in. Using the data from this U.S. Department of Defense news release, Stacker ranked the most expensive military weapons based on President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for the 2019 fiscal year by their estimated cost. The numbers of each item that the Department of Defense expects to purchase were used to break any ties.

Click through the slideshow to see which missile defense systems, space programs, submarines, and other weapons the U.S. military plans to invest in next year. Staying informed is your civic duty, after all.

ALSO: The impact of the military on every state economy

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Official U.S. Navy Page // flickr

#30. Hellfire missiles

2019 national security budget investment: $600 million

Amount invested in: 7,045

Type of weapon: Preferred munition

Originally created to give the American military an advantage against Soviet tank formations, the Hellfire missile has evolved into one of the U.S. military’s most commonly used weapons. It can be deployed from ships, aircraft or land vehicles.

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Duch.seb // flickr

#29. Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range

2019 national security budget investment: $600 million

Amount invested in: 360

Type of weapon: Preferred munition

The Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range—also known as JASSM—is a long-range, air-to-ground, precision standoff missile. The 2,000-pound weapon is designed to destroy high-value targets.

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U.S. Air Force // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Long-Range Stand-Off Missile

2019 national security budget investment: $600 million

Amount invested in: 1

Type of weapon: Nuclear deterrence

This stealthy nuclear cruise missile is designed to fend off a nuclear war. These air-based weapons could punch through enemy defenses, including command sites, as part of nuclear deterrence.

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Official U.S. Navy Page // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Expeditionary sea base

2019 national security budget investment: $700 million

Amount invested in: 1

Type of weapon: Sea

These floating bases are used for special operations, such as expeditionary warfare missions. They also work as an intermediary, transferring cargo ships to Navy landing craft.

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U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Armored multi-purpose vehicles

2019 national security budget investment: $800 million

Amount invested in: 197

Type of weapon: Ground system

These armored vehicles make up about 30% of the Armored Brigade Combat Team’s tracked vehicle fleet. Various models can accommodate anywhere from from four to eight people, a mounted mortar, and plenty of ammunition.

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United States Air Force // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Space Based Infrared System

2019 national security budget investment: $800 million

Amount invested in: 1

Type of weapon: Space

Considered one of the top priority space programs, Space Based Infrared Surveillance (SBIRS) provides an early missile warning system. The system includes satellites and hosted payloads, as well as ground hardware and software.

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U.S. Defense Imagery // Wikimedia Commons

#24. VH-92 Presidential Helicopters

2019 national security budget investment: $900 million

Amount invested in: 6

Type of weapon: Aircraft

The fleet of VH-92 helicopters fly the president and other high-level White House personnel around the world. The United States Marine Corps handles the president’s air transportation.

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Ministerie van Defensie // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancements

2019 national security budget investment: $1.1 billion

Amount invested in: 240

Type of weapon: Missile defense

This powerful air defense missile can be deployed to protect ground forces from aircraft, cruise missiles, and other tactical ballistic missiles. The U.S. government expects to spend $1.1 billion on PAC-3 missiles in 2018.

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National Missile Defense Image // Wikimedia Commons

#22. THAAD Ballistic Missile Defense

2019 national security budget investment: $1.1 billion

Amount invested in: 82

Type of weapon: Missile defense

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system provides the capability to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight. Though the weapon is based on land, it can shoot down missiles inside and outside the atmosphere

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Tony Sisti // Wikipedia Commons

#21. Fleet replenishment oilers (T-AO)

2019 national security budget investment: $1.1 billion

Amount invested in: 2

Type of weapon: Sea

These crucial ships refuel other U.S. Navy ships, aircraft carriers, and on-board aircraft at sea. These ships also have a helicopter platform that military personnel can use to fly between ships.

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Miles Wilson // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Joint Direct Attack Munitions

2019 national security budget investment: $1.2 billion

Amount invested in: 43,594

Type of weapon: Preferred munition

This system can be used to convert unguided bombs into precision-guided munitions, making them what the military considers “smart.” It can be used from any Navy fighter attack aircraft.

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MKFI // Wikipedia Commons

#19. Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS)

2019 national security budget investment: $1.2 billion

Amount invested in: 9,733

Type of weapon: Preferred munition

This rocket system has both an upgraded tracked launcher and high-mobility wheeled launcher, allowing it to carry out precise and destructive hits on a variety of targets. Munitions fired by the GMLRS are more accurate than ballistic rockets.

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Shawn Hussong // Wikimedia Commons

#18. AH-64E Attack Helicopters

2019 national security budget investment: $1.3 billion

Amount invested in: 60

Type of weapon: Aircraft

These multi-purpose combat helicopters are used by the U.S. Army and international armies around the world. The U.S. Army’s Apache fleet has flown more than 4.2 million flight hours since they first began buying them in 1984.

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Robert A. Wood Sr. // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Littoral Combat Ship

2019 national security budget investment: $1.3 billion

Amount invested in: 1

Type of weapon: Sea

The Littoral Combat Ship is the Navy’s newest class of warship, designed to operate in the near-shore region. These small, agile ships can immobilize small boats, electric submarines, and mine threats.

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NASA // Wikipedia Commons

#16. Global positioning system

2019 national security budget investment: $1.5 billion

Amount invested in: 1

Type of weapon: Space

This collection of orbiting satellites provides crucial navigation data to both the military and civilians all over the world. GPS satellites orbit the earth every 12 hours, transmitting data to computer systems on the ground that allows the calculation of time, distance, and velocity with incredible accuracy.

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Gabriela Garcia // Wikimedia Commons

#15. CH-53K King Stallion

2019 national security budget investment: $1.6 billion

Amount invested in: 8

Type of weapon: Aircraft

This helicopter was designed for use by the U.S. Marine Corps and serves as a crucial logistics connector. It can lift extremely heavy loads, allowing the military to lift weapons, equipment, and other loads from ship to shore or over difficult terrain.

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U.S. Navy // flickr

#14. AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense (SM-3)

2019 national security budget investment: $1.7 billion

Amount invested in: 43

Type of weapon: Missile defense

The naval component of the missile defense system, AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense can defeat short-to-intermediate range missiles. It’s a crucial part of the nation’s defense.

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Catherine Mae O. Campbell // Wikimedia Commons

#13. CVN-78 Class aircraft carrier

2019 national security budget investment: $1.8 billion

Amount invested in: 1

Type of weapon: Sea

These aircraft carriers are part of the Navy’s Gerald R. Ford class of nuclear-powered ships. The CVN-78 design has more electrical power and can be run by several hundred fewer sailors than its predecessors.

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Sebastian Saarloos // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Joint Light Tactical Vehicles

2019 national security budget investment: $2.0 billion

Amount invested in: 5,113

Type of weapon: Ground system

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (or JLTV) is stronger, faster, and lighter than the Humvee. Still, these armored trucks weigh about 14,000 pounds each.

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Navy // Wikimedia Commons

#11. F/A-18s

2019 national security budget investment: $2 billion

Amount invested in: 24

Type of weapon: Aircraft

These all-weather aircraft are used as both fighter planes and attack aircraft. The nation’s first strike-fighter, the single-seat F/A-18 has increased the likelihood of military forces surviving their missions.

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United States Air Force // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles

2019 national security budget investment: $2 billion

Amount invested in: 5

Type of weapon: Space

The overarching mission of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) is to make space launches more affordable and reliable. The military is slowly replacing the current launch systems with EELVs to improve the space program overall.

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U.S. Missile Defense Agency // flickr

#9. Ground-based midcourse defense

2019 national security budget investment: $2.1 billion

Amount invested in: 1

Type of weapon: Missile defense

Part of the Ballistic Missile Defense System, the ground-based midcourse defense element primarily defends against intermediate to long-range missiles. Global sensors, extensive communication networks, fire control systems, and interceptors work together to detect, track, and take out ballistic threats.

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Alan Wilson // flickfr

#8. P-8A aircraft

2019 national security budget investment: $2.2 billion

Amount invested in: 10 Type of weapon: Aircraft

Also known as the P-8A Poseidon, this aircraft is a maritime, patrol and reconnaissance plane that can replace the P-3C Orion. The Navy uses P-8As in long-range maritime patrols.

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Karim Jamal // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Long Range Strike Bomber

2019 national security budget investment: $2.3 billion

Amount invested in: 1

Type of weapon: Nuclear deterrence

Dubbed the B-21 Raider in honor of World War II’s Doolittle Raiders, the Air Force Long Range Strike Bomber is currently in development. This next-generation bomber would be able to carry heavy payloads such as nuclear weapons. B-21s would eventually replace older B-1 and B-52 bombers.

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Christopher McCullough // Wikimedia Commons

#6. M-1 Abrams Tank modifications

2019 national security budget investment: $2.7 billion

Amount invested in: 135

Type of weapon: Ground system

The upgrades to the U.S. Army’s Abrams tanks come after a two-year review of the protection systems for these vehicles. The upgrades are designed to better defend the tanks against rockets and missiles

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U.S. Air Force // Wikimedia Commons

#5. KC-46 Tanker replacements

2019 national security budget investment: $3 billion

Amount invested in: 15

Type of weapon: Aircraft

The effort to replace older KC-135 tanker aircraft with KC-46 hasn’t been efficient: The program has had its fair share of technical problems, leading to long delays. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was not pleased, saying he is “unwilling” to accept any flawed aircraft.

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U.S. Naval Systems Command Image // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Columbia-class submarine

2019 national security budget investment: $3.7 billion

Amount invested in: 1

Type of weapon: Nuclear deterrence

The Navy is designing and building new Columbia-class submarines to replace older Ohio-class submarines. It hopes to introduce the first Columbia-class sub in the 2021 fiscal year.

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Patrick Reilly // Wikimedia Commons

#3. DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyers

2019 national security budget investment: $6 billion

Amount invested in: 3

Type of weapon: Sea

The “greyhounds of the sea” are warships that have both offensive and defensive capabilities in a variety of missions, and operate both in carrier groups and independently. The DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyers are capable of conducting warfare against aircraft, submarines, and surface-level threats.

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Lara Bollinger // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Virginia-class submarines

2019 national security budget investment: $7.4 billion

Amount invested in: 2

Type of weapon: Sea

One of three types of Navy submarines currently in service, the Virginia-class ships are the latest in attack submarines. Innovations like a a fly-by-wire ship control system, a reconfigurable torpedo room, and a large lock-in/lock-out chamber for divers make it a superior submarine.

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U.S. Air Force // Wikimedia Commons

#1. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters

2019 national security budget investment: $10.7 billion

Amount invested in: 77

Type of weapon: Aircraft

Also known as the F-35 Lightning II Program, the Joint Strike Fighter Program is set to receive the biggest investment in the 2019 fiscal year. The advanced airframe, propulsion systems, and stealth features of the F-35 make it more affordable and lethal than other aircraft.

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