Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

Most expensive military weapons and programs

  • Most expensive military weapons and programs
    1/ 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

  • #30. Hellfire missiles
    2/ 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.

  • #29. Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range
    3/ 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.

  • #28. Long-Range Stand-Off Missile
    4/ 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.

  • #27. Expeditionary sea base
    5/ 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.

  • #26. Armored multi-purpose vehicles
    6/ 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.

  • #25. Space Based Infrared System
    7/ 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.

  • #24. VH-92 Presidential Helicopters
    8/ 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.

  • #23. Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancements
    9/ 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.

  • #22. THAAD Ballistic Missile Defense
    10/ 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

  • #21. Fleet replenishment oilers (T-AO)
    11/ 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.

  • #20. Joint Direct Attack Munitions
    12/ 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.

  • #19. Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS)
    13/ 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.

  • #18. AH-64E Attack Helicopters
    14/ 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.

  • #17. Littoral Combat Ship
    15/ 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.

  • #16. Global positioning system
    16/ 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.

  • #15. CH-53K King Stallion
    17/ 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.

  • #14. AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense (SM-3)
    18/ 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.

  • #13. CVN-78 Class aircraft carrier
    19/ 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.

  • #12. Joint Light Tactical Vehicles
    20/ 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.

  • #11. F/A-18s
    21/ 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.

  • #10. Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles
    22/ 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.

  • #9. Ground-based midcourse defense
    23/ 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.

  • #8. P-8A aircraft
    24/ 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.

  • #7. Long Range Strike Bomber
    25/ 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.

  • #6. M-1 Abrams Tank modifications
    26/ 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

  • #5. KC-46 Tanker replacements
    27/ 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.

  • #4. Columbia-class submarine
    28/ 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.

  • #3. DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyers
    29/ 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.

  • #2. Virginia-class submarines
    30/ 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.

  • #1. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters
    31/ 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.

2018 All rights reserved.