Generally speaking UAVs/Drones cost far less than manned fighter aircraft. For example the flyaway cost of a F 18 Super Hornet is USD 65 million whereas the flyaway cost of a Reaper drone is USD 14 million.

However, the unit cost of a Global Hawk is USD132 million which is almost as much as that of a F 35 https://www.f35.com/about/fast-facts/cost

So why is the unit cost of Global Hawk UAV so high?


1 Answer 1


"Why does this thing cost so much?" is generally not an on-topic question for an Aviation site, even if the thing in question is aviation-related.

What you're asking is fundamentally an economics & commerce question: The answer is somewhere in the intersection between what it cost to develop the design, what it costs to make the actual machine, and what the market will pay for it. The specific combination of factors leading to a specific price point can only be known by the manufacturer, and they would likely consider it a trade secret which makes the question unanswerable except by speculation.

  • $\begingroup$ On the other hand we have kept questions about the price of rentals and accessories. The specifics of the cost are probably not going to be answerable, but a general analysis of the three very different aircraft listed in the question should be possible. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ @fooot the difference with the rental-related questions is that we know the contributing factors there: Storage (tiedown/hangar), maintenance, fuel, and obviously some profit for the FBO/school. We can answer generally in those terms. In this particular case there's a big question mark over all of the contributing factors which is what makes the question dubious to me. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ Well "why does it cost so much" is certainly dubious, and we closed the question about the cost to build a 737 as well. But this question is comparing very different aircraft, and I think the reason for cost differences between them is more apparent than the reason for the exact cost. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 19:43

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