The amount that has been spent on aircraft projects that have been cancelled is colossal. In assembling this list I’ve been surprised a few times: the Bristol Brabazon didn’t make it, yet a few in the top five I hadn’t even considered. I’ve tried to be sensible, not including projects that spawned actual aircraft- like the B-1A, but including radical variants like the two cursed Nimrods.
I’ve avoided aircraft where no figures where available (so no Sukhoi T-4 or XFV-12). With so many variables to get wrong (unreliable figures, time and currency conversion rates among many) I accept that this is at best a rough guide. I do however hope you enjoy it and that, in a small way, it serves to highlight the wasteful nature of the weapon procurement process.
Note that only one of the aircraft on this list was built for commercial use!
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10. Saunders-Roe Princess £10 million in 1950 prices
9. Hughes H-4 Hercules $23 million in 1946 dollars (circa $275 million in 2013 figures)
8. British Aerospace Nimrod AEW3 £1 billion 1986 pounds
7. British Aircraft Corporation TSR. 2 £450 million in 1965 pounds. More on TSR.2 here
6.Martin P6M SeaMaster $400 million in 1953 dollars (circa 3.4 billion in 2013 dollars)
5. McDonnell Douglas A-12 Avenger II circa $2 billion in 1991 dollars (3.44 billion in 2013) + ongoing legal fees. Check out the ten worst carrier aircraft.
4. BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4 £3.8 billion in 2010 pounds
3.Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche circa $7 billion in 2004 dollars (8.67 in 2013 figures). This reminds me, here’s what helicopters do in Hollywood
2. Northrop XB-35 $522 million in 1946 (6+ billion)
1. North American XB-70 Valkyrie $1.5 billion in 1966 dollars (10.81 in today dollars)
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Edit: Convair 880