So, how much does an Air Strike cost?

I just read that the US have “hit 3222 IS targets” with air strikes.

I realize the cost of an air strike will vary and that there will be a range, depending on what was used by whom.

I also realize that it will depend on how much overhead you figure in to each strike, such as the cost of running a bomber plane or drone, R&D etc.

I am just looking for ballpark figures using whatever calculations you want, as long as they are based in reality. At the least, please list the cost of the missiles/bombs, as that is what I am most interested in. Thanks!

Through early October, the ISIL operations cost about $1.1 billion. So as of today, at a rough cost of operations of $8 million a day, roughly $1.8 billion has been spent. That works out to about $500 grand per strike, including the cost of weapons, fuel, aerial refueling, etc. It does not include the cost of buying the aircraft or R&D.

You’ll have to be more specific about what weapon you want the cost of. A Tomahawk missile costs about a million each, a Hellfire costs about $90,000, and a dumb 500 pound bomb costs about $2,000.

Here’s a cite on the war costs:

Technically, the missiles and bombs don’t cost anything to use in a strike.

We produce a certain number of missiles and bombs every year, and those have a limited shelf life and possibly a limited useful life if they get replaced by newer and fancier weapons. If they aren’t used in a strike, they just sit around and are eventually scrapped. But they are still produced. Whether you choose to engage in a strike therefore has no effect at all on your bomb and missile budget, until you drop so many of them that you need to replenish your stores of them.

Most of the cost of the strike is going to be the logistics costs for getting everything over there within range so that it can make a strike, so it’s fuel costs for not only the planes doing the bombing, but for all of the support vehicles, etc. as well as things like the fuel cost for moving an entire carrier group into position. Also you have food costs for the support personnel and all kinds of stuff. Basically, we’re spending about $10 Million per day just to have the ability to strike. The actual extra cost of fuel for the plane doing the bombing and other things used during the strike is almost trivial by comparison.

The cost for the plane delivering the bombs is somewhere between $10,000 per hour and $20,000 per hour depending on the type of plane used.

The cost of a typical JDAM type bomb is about $40,000. So if your flight time is long enough, you’ll spend a lot more in fuel than you will in bomb cost. And again, just because you drop a JDAM type bomb on the enemy doesn’t mean that a new one gets produced to replace it.

I don’t know if a Tomahawk missile counts as an air strike or not. If it does, those puppies cost somewhere between $500,000 and $800,000 each, depending on whose numbers you use.

You are right that the cost of a munition isn’t actually tallied when the weapon is used. The cost is indeed carried by the government when the weapon is ordered and delivered.

However, in the vast, vast majority of cases, a weapon expended in combat is indeed replaced, thereby accruing hat most would say is a legitimate incremental cost to the government. In fact, a relatively healthy slice of war budgets (known as Overseas Contingency Operations) is for replacement ammunition and munitions to maintain the stockpiles that are required by the military services.

Especially because some munitions have significant long lead times between when they are ordered and when they deliver (as a rule of thumb, about six months for basic ammunition, between one to maybe three years for advanced missiles) it is pretty standard for the military to seek funding for replacement munitions more or less as the munitions get depleted.

I should add that it isn’t very common at all for a munition to be replaced by a newer variant. Even minor changes to weapons require pretty extensive testing, so it is usually many years between the “A” and “B” models of a particular advanced weapon.

Of course “cost” means different things according to your own agenda. You can add up all of the wages, fuel, depreciation, capital costs etc etc and arrive at some horrendous figure, or you can take away from that all of the costs that would have occurred anyway, and arrive at the much smaller marginal cost.

I remember a scene in the film The Boys in Company C (set in Vietnam) where one soldier asks another if he’d like to see how it feels to spend a million dollars. They promptly order up a not necessarily required air strike!

Hourly Cost Of Operating US Military Aircraft

The chart shows the cost of the aircraft and the hourly cost of operation. Remember that airplane costs are not calculated like car costs. In a car, most people (who bother) only use the cost of fuel. Aircraft costs include the fuel, lubricants and other fluids, scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, parking/hangar, inspections, and insurance. Most of those apply to military aircraft. Of course cars have those expenses as well; but most people don’t consider them.

Looking at the chart, $125/hour to rent a Cessna doesn’t seem so bad. :stuck_out_tongue:

Part of a airstrike is on the job training as well. Sort of what they have to do for what they do. That cost partly goes in theory to better pilots and support personnel, so a investment of sorts also.

And the overhead for militaries is ginormous. Those sailors out on deployment doing another uneventful round around the South Pacific are getting fed out of government funds just as much as the sailors on board the ships that are actually launching Tomahawks.

Consider an employer who hires an employee for a salary of $200 a day. He is salaried - paid to do a job, not to do X Y and Z and then goodbye. On Monday, there’s nothing especially important for him to do so the company lets him more or less loaf around and drink coffee. On Tuesday, the boss urgently needs ten TPS reports filled out immediately!!!11!1one and gets our employee to do it. It takes that employee the entire workday to fill them out and attach the correct cover sheets. Then, for the rest of the week, things get really quiet and again, there’s not much to do but drink coffee and wait for an alarm to go off (that ends up not going off).

Now, how much did those TPS reports cost the company? Some would say $200, because the employee worked one day on them and that employee is paid $200 a day. Others would say that the TPS reports actually cost $1000, because that employee was paid $1000 for that week to do whatever was necessary, and since the TPS reports were the only “thing”, they have to absorb 100% of the cost. If the employee actually worked on Friday to batten down the hatches, then maybe you can say that the TPS reports cost the company $500 and the hatch battening cost the company another $500. “Costing” is a huge topic in Accounting - go learn about it. It “costs” you maybe $10 per year to store grandma’s old 1940’s-era high school dresses in your closet. Are you writing checks every month or even year? No. Does your bank balance take an obvious “hit”? No. Can you throw them away and end up with an additional $10 a year to spend on booze? No, not unless you can somehow rent the space out - you are paying for it regardless. So go ahead and stick a gun in there - then you can say it “costs” you $10 a year to store your gun. If you can squeeze the clothes and fit a gun in the space you “saved”, you can then say that maybe the clothes cost $5 a year to store and the gun $5 a year.

It’s the same thing when people ask why medevacs cost upwards of $10,000. Does it really cost that much to rent a helicopter for 2 hours and pay three paramedics and a pilot for 3 or 4 hours of work? Generally, no. But the helicopter, the paramedics, the pilot, and a mechanic are stitting around most of the day getting paid and consuming helicopter parts and fuel even though there are no current customers. Someone’s got to pay for that, and it ends up being you.

But it’s $225 when you count the hamburger.

Right. The cost of insurance, oil changes, and whatnot are typically grouped together as the cost of having a car. If you’re thinking about driving 300 miles and back to grandma’s, the “cost” of the trip is how much the gas costs. The other costs get lost in the noise.

Right, but by the time people are getting deployed, training costs are sort of “sunk” (as in sunk costs). You already spent the money. Now, are you going to use the benefit or let it go to waste? The government doesn’t train people and then pay for the training if and only if the training gets used. The check got written months, if not years, ago. Now the question is whether or not those training costs will be “expensed” or “costed” to a specific airstrike or just allocated to “general military overhead”. That’s an Accounting question. There isn’t a procurement officer nervously tapping a pen over whether to sign the check for training or not 10 minutes before the strike.

I’m not the only person who’s ever seen that movie!!! I almost have the urge to check my pack now…

Here’s an article which says it costs a half million dollars to destroy a $30,000 pickup:

Yeah, and I saw it 30+ years ago on HBO and haven’t seen it since! It was a very good movie, and it came before the whole dirge of Vietnam films (Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Born on the Fourth of July etc.) During the scene where the new recruits first encounter their drill sergeant I remember asking my father, who served in WWII, if it really was that intense. He said back then they didn’t drop F-bombs like that, but otherwise, yeah it was!

About the armament logistics, the U.S. has large weapons depots prepositioned and maintained by host nations all over Europe and the Middle East.