The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is estimated to be the most expensive weapons system in human history, based on its projected lifetime cost of $1.5 trillion dollars ($406 billion for the aircraft, the rest in lifetime operating costs)—and that’s before we factor in the endless cost overruns.
Historically a land power, the Soviet Union grappled with the idea of a large naval aviation arm for most of its history, eventually settling on a series of hybrid aircraft carriers. Big plans for additional ships died with the Soviet collapse, but Russia inherited one large aircraft carrier at the end of the Cold War—that remains in service today. Although many of the problems that wracked the naval aviation projects of the Soviet Union remain today, the Russian navy nevertheless sports one of the more active aircraft carriers in the world.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Air Force announced plans to retire the B-1B Lancer (also known as the “Bone”) in favor of the new B-21 Raider stealth bomber. The B-1B will remain in service for some time, but unlike its older cousin the B-52, its days are apparently numbered. The B-1B has served in a variety of capacities since the 1980s, demonstrating a remarkable degree of mission flexibility.