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The 10 Most Popular Fighter Jets in the World

In the 21st century, there are fighter jets, and then there are fighter jets. Which kind you get depends on how much you want to pay.

Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor stealth fighter -- arguably the most expensive fighter jet in the world. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Got hundreds of millions of dollars to toss around? Then like the U.S. government, you can hire Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT  ) to design and build an F-22 Raptor stealth fighter -- widely believed to be the most capable air superiority combat jet in the world today. (Of course, if you cut your production run short before efficiencies of scale kick in, the planes end up costing $412 million apiece.)

Or, that same kind of money will buy you a good handful of Boeing's (NYSE: BA  ) top-of-the-line, fourth-generation fighters -- F/A-18s or F-15s that retail for about $100 million each.

Buying on a budget? In that case, you may be better off with a Soviet-era Sukhoi Su-34 "Fullback." List price: $36 million. Or for the true bargain seeker, Textron's (NYSE: TXT  ) new Scorpion may suffice -- a steal at $17 million per plane.

Depending on what a nation state needs, various buyers pick various warplanes, and pay at various price points. Which are the most popular combinations today? Take a click-tour of the world's most popular fighter jets in the slideshow below and find out.

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Read/Post Comments (14) | Recommend This Article (80)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On June 14, 2014, at 2:19 PM, TheAncient wrote:

    The F-35 is priced well north of $100M a copy, closer to $170M. For that price one gets a single engined fighter with very limited offensive weaponry( 4 internal missiles or 2 missiles and 2 small bombs), limited range and speed. It requires an environmentally controlled hanger to maintain stealth. Several nations are well on the way of developing tech that will overcome stealth. One can take the 'special' avioncs and pretty much drop it into any other airframe. It is not combat tested nor proven and until that happens it's just an overpriced toy. While the design of the F-15 and F-18 maybe old, they are combat tested, priced well south of $100M and new in the box, with the same weapons system and avionics a better deal than the F-35. 60years? The F-35 will be obsolete in another 15 -18 years. That's like using Sopwith Camels to fight the Japanese during WW II.

  • Report this Comment On June 14, 2014, at 11:57 PM, Oorfeo wrote:

    The headline says it all.

    Yet another sign of the status of "civilization" is the juxtaposition of the words "popular" and "fighter jets."

    Investors might consider peaceful endeavors instead of destructive ones. At this time it may not be as profitable, but it is the responsible thing to do.

    Of course, the argument is made that war investment profits can be turned around to fund humanitarian ventures. But the same is true of less deadly investiments. Consider China: its investments in its infrastructure has created what is about to become the economically most powerful nation. More and more the evidence is mounting that some of China's approaches to real world economic strategies may be the way to go.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2014, at 1:43 AM, paulrevere wrote:

    Don't worry about the F-35, everyone that needed to be bought off, has been bought off, many times over and this plane will go through in full production come h.e.l.l or high water. If you took what characteristic that made all of the other fighter jets in this presentation so formidable and lasting, and made a plane spec. based on those specs, it would look nothing like the F-35. Not one of those other planes had vertical or short lift off capability.

    Look at the cost of the F-16 and its profit margin for the company, 7%. Keep in mind that the lions share of that 7% went into providing the CEO's and the executives 100's of thousands of shares each along with a very substantial retirement that rival's what major fat cat oil company executives garner for retirement.

    F-35 was a rip off from the get go and if it wasn't for the relationship that the former CEO had with Prez G.W.Bush, the F-35 might have been shot down on the basis of cost alone. Each panel that makes up 1 of the three landing gear door covers cost $100K each. How many impoverished families in the USA would that support for a year ?

    Its time to stop the madness and get real with what is needed to defend the USA and its interests.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2014, at 2:06 AM, tekwyzrd wrote:

    @ TheAncient

    The price of an F-35 is in the range of $185 million to $199 million. The U.S. federal government wasted $billions developing a 'cheaper' alternative to the F-22 from the same company. The JSF competition was rigged, the Lockheed entry was deficient, over-budget, under spec, and seventeen years later they're still under development. Qhat a pathetic waste of money.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2014, at 3:08 AM, Hrntphxr wrote:

    I would argue that the F-4 Phantom and the F-14 Tomcat belong on this list. . .

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2014, at 3:18 AM, Hrntphxr wrote:

    @ tekwyzrd, Do you have any facts to support your claims? Certainly you don't believe everything you read in the paper or on the internet? No one knows the true price of the F-35 as it is sold with a certain amount of support in the beginning. Each successive lot will see a reduction in price as production efficiencies increase and military maintainers come up to speed on working on the jet.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2014, at 4:56 AM, Jensen wrote:

    The F-35 is a dangerously flawed plane. It cant outturn out run or out accelerate the competition. It can be shot down with hand weapons. It is the most expensive disaster ever to suck up tax money and endanger the life of US and allied pilots. So sad and embarassing.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2014, at 6:17 AM, Tiger69 wrote:

    How do we ever escape this madness? As long as there is money to be made in arms, we'll have war. It makes me sick to think that our country throws so much money, that could be spent to fund ventures that actually improve our lives, at profiteering corporate warlords who only encourage the need for their "products" by ramping up the competition. Want to be a patriot? Cut the profits out of war. How? That is the question we should be asking and the problem that must be solved. But, for starters let's talk straight. The Department of "Defense" gets its old name back, the Department of War. If corporate America is so patriotic, let them "help out" with nonprofit armament products.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2014, at 7:02 AM, Psyphex wrote:

    I think a few people are confused as to what the F-35A/B are meant for. Comparatively The F/A-18E can't out turn, out accelerate, or out run the competition either. Neither can the the F-15E. Why is that? They aren't meant to.

    Strike Fighters, of which the F-35, and the E models of the F/A-18 and F-15 are, do a specific role and that Interdiction and Combat Air Support. Their job is to evade enemy Radar and Air Defense Assets on the ground (S.A.Ms and MANPADS [Man Portable Air Defense Systems]) in order to destroy ground targets. This role also includes the AV-8B currently being replaced by the F-35B

    It's the F-22 Raptor that is the Air Superiority fighter. Killing the other plane is it's job; It's sole intended purpose.

    That being said if we are talking about a plane being the most expensive for what it does then the B-2 Spirit has any plane beat at a Whopping $6.2 billion per plane

    As far as the F-35 being shot down from Hand weapons, every aircraft in the sky is vulnerable to that at low altitude levels, even the extremely resilient A-10 Thunderbolt II, but on the flip side the sheer amount of massed firepower in order to do makes the event almost unlikely from standard small arms like the AK47 and M4A1, and there will always be that "Golden BB".

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2014, at 11:55 AM, comosichiam wrote:

    These are remarkable planes but if we don't have the leadership to know how to deal with world crises what good are they when a fool is in the Whitehouse the scum of the earth are not afraid because they know he is a weak an incompetent leader so they go hog wild everywhere.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2014, at 12:22 PM, FriscoLou wrote:

    Pimpin' war planes is like being strung out on heroin, a first a little bit is OK but then you need more and more.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2014, at 2:18 PM, TKK1959 wrote:

    What's the cost effectiveness between the F-22 Raptor & the newer F-35? I'm all for technical advancement, but against the cost of each F-35. Plus so far, there have been plenty glitches involving the F-35 also.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2014, at 9:13 PM, gdogncbd wrote:

    also this new strike fighter is supposed to be the plane for next 50 years according to the projections. when you are building a platform with the ability to stay in service for 50 years, there has to be some projected engineering to keep this aircraft flyable and up to date. we are paying now for the cost of this aircraft servicing the military for the next 50 years.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2014, at 9:43 PM, keyslimey wrote:

    The Eurofighter Typhoon would be on that list if the US had not been undermining it for decades. Come to that we would all be flying super-sonic if the US had not undermined Concorde.

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Rich Smith

As a defense writer for The Motley Fool, I focus on defense and aerospace stocks. My job? Every day of the week, I'm monitoring the news, figuring out the winners and losers, and tracking down the promising companies for you to invest in. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook for the most important developments in defense & aerospace, and other great stories.

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