Axed! The trillion dollar list of shame: The Ten Most Expensive Cancelled Aircraft
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!
This site exists thanks to people like you donating. Help us carry on by using the donation buttons above and below. Many thanks.
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)
If this article interests you, support Hush-Kit.net with a donation (buttons above and below). If this goes well we’ll be able to give you much more! Recommended donation £12. Many thanks for helping to keep us impartial and independent.
You may also enjoy 11 Cancelled French aircraft or the 10 worst British military aircraft, Su-35 versusTyphoon, 10 Best fighters of World War II , Su-35 versus Typhoon, top WVR and BVR fighters of today, an interview with a Super Hornet pilot and a Pacifist’s Guide to Warplanes. Flying and fighting in the Tornado. Was the Spitfire overrated? Want something more bizarre? Try Sigmund Freud’s Guide to Spyplanes. The Top Ten fictional aircraft is a fascinating read, as is The Strange Story and The Planet Satellite. The Fashion Versus Aircraft Camo is also a real cracker. Those interested in the Cold Way should read A pilot’s guide to flying and fighting in the Lightning. Those feeling less belligerent may enjoy A pilot’s farewell to the Airbus A340. Looking for something more humorous? Have a look at this F-35 satire and ‘Werner Herzog’s Guide to pusher bi-planes or the Ten most boring aircraft. In the mood for something more offensive? Try the NSFW 10 best looking American airplanes, or the same but for Canadians. 10 great aircraft stymied by the US.
Edit: Convair 880
“If you have any interest in aviation, you’ll be surprised, entertained and fascinated by Hush-Kit – the world’s best aviation blog”. Rowland White, author of the best-selling ‘Vulcan 607’
I’ve selected the richest juiciest cuts of Hush-Kit, added a huge slab of new unpublished material, and with Unbound, I want to create a beautiful coffee-table book. Pre-order your copy now right here
TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW
From the cocaine, blood and flying scarves of World War One dogfighting to the dark arts of modern air combat, here is an enthralling ode to these brutally exciting killing machines.
The Hush-Kit Book of Warplanes is a beautifully designed, highly visual, collection of the best articles from the fascinating world of military aviation –hand-picked from the highly acclaimed Hush-kit online magazine (and mixed with a heavy punch of new exclusive material). It is packed with a feast of material, ranging from interviews with fighter pilots (including the English Electric Lightning, stealthy F-35B and Mach 3 MiG-25 ‘Foxbat’), to wicked satire, expert historical analysis, top 10s and all manner of things aeronautical, from the site described as:
“the thinking-man’s Top Gear… but for planes”.
The solid well-researched information about aeroplanes is brilliantly combined with an irreverent attitude and real insight into the dangerous romantic world of combat aircraft.
- Interviews with pilots of the F-14 Tomcat, Mirage, Typhoon, MiG-25, MiG-27, English Electric Lighting, Harrier, F-15, B-52 and many more.
- Engaging Top (and bottom) 10s including: Greatest fighter aircraft of World War II, Worst British aircraft, Worst Soviet aircraft and many more insanely specific ones.
- Expert analysis of weapons, tactics and technology.
- A look into art and culture’s love affair with the aeroplane.
- Bizarre moments in aviation history.
- Fascinating insights into exceptionally obscure warplanes.
The book will be a stunning object: an essential addition to the library of anyone with even a passing interest in the high-flying world of warplanes, and featuring first-rate photography and a wealth of new world-class illustrations.
Rewards levels include these packs of specially produced trump cards.
Pre-order your copy now right here
I can only do it with your support.
The Avro Arrow didn’t make the list?
Two Nimrods in the top ten. Ouch. Are you listening BAE Systems?
The plane was fine, simply the existing Nimrod, it was the radar developer who were the complete clowns- or rather the people who gave them the development contract. ( Intriguingly the wikipedia entry makes no mention of radar developers name Marconi, who at the time had never built an airborne radar http://www.radarpages.co.uk/download/p172.pdf)
The obvious choice was the rotating radar from the E-3 hawkeye. Worked fine on the Orion later on .
Still does for US Customs ?
I was seconded to Canadian Marconi from Marconi UK as computer bloke. I found that Canadian Marconi beat out ALL the big guns in the USA for contracts for Doppler navigator units for years. The UK radar was excellent but completely bungled by Marconi insane ideas on marketing. I could have walked away with the contract for 3 ATC radar sites in Canada but the UK buearacrazy declined because they tought their equipment would be reverese engineered>
I know they weren’t cancelled as much as losing candidates, but how much did prototypes such as the YF-23 Black Widow and the Boeing X-32 cost? Must’ve been a pretty penny. At least the YF-17 Cobra ended up becoming the Hornet…
Most of these were built in response to a requirement. However, if they take too long to develop, the requirement could change as do the enemies. Also some were overtaken by better technology. Makes no sense to just build it anyway.
The only way to learn is through Experimentation ,with new technology, and new materials, which is through trial and error.