The cost of a single B-2 bomber vary from $737 million to $2.2 billion, but the most often cited figure for the most expensive aircraft in the world is $1.3 billion.
Anyone who’s ever read anything about US military spending shouldn’t be surprised that the world’s most expensive aircraft was a Department of Defense project.
Created as part of a secret project in the 1980s, the expensive plane is a design executed with the Soviet Union in mind. The Northrop Grumman ATB (Advanced Technology Bomber) was designated the B-2 Spirit after it was chosen over a Lockheed/Rockwell design in 1981. The stealthy bomber was meant to be able to penetrate even the most impregnable anti-aircraft defenses.
The project didn’t turn out quite as expected, though. A redesign from high-altitude to low-altitude mission profile added two years and $1 billion to the project’s cost, bringing the total expenditure up to a reported $23 billion. Furthermore, the dissolution of the Soviet Union resulted in the production being limited to 20 planes—21 if you count an upgraded test bomber.
Reports on the cost of a single B-2 bomber vary from $737 million to $2.2 billion, but the most often cited figure for the most expensive aircraft in the world is $1.3 billion.