The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project was completed in August 1998 and resulted in the book Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940 edited by Stephen I. Schwartz. These project pages should be considered historical.
– All figures in constant 1996 dollars –
The following figures include research, development, testing and evaluation (RDT&E), and procurement costs and exclude operations, support, training, post-deployment upgrades or conversions, construction, and personnel costs. Warhead and bomb costs are rough averages only based on total research, development, testing and production costs during the Cold War; actual costs are classified.
B-52H Stratofortress bomber — $42.9 million each
- up to 20 Air-Launched Cruise Missiles(incl. W80-1 warheads) ~$8.4 million each
- or up to 20 Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missiles ~$3.8 million each or up to 20 Advanced Cruise Missiles (incl. W80-1 warheads) ~$16.3 million each
- or up to 20 nuclear gravity bombs (B61-7, B61-11, B83) ~$4.9 million each
Total — ~$119-$369 million each
B-2A Spirit bomber — $2.6 billion each
Total — ~$2.7 billion each
Minuteman III missile — $33.5 million each
Total — ~$48.5 million each
MX/Peacekeeper missile — $189.4 million each
- 10 W87300 kiloton warheads
- Subtotal armament — ~$49 million
Total — ~$238 million each
Ohio-class Trident submarine — ~$1.9 billion each
Total — ~$3.4-4.1 billion each
1 Until quite recently, it was assumed that Trident I and Trident II missiles carried 8 warheads each. In January 1998, however, officials with the United States Strategic Command acknowledged that the missiles on submarines on hard alert at sea (within range of their targets) are armed with just 5 warheads apiece. See Elaine M. Grossman, “Briefing Shows Navy Now Loads Trident Missiles With 5 Warheads, Not 8,” Inside the Pentagon, vol. 14, no. 5, February 5, 1998, pp. 5-6.
- Subtotal armament — ~$1.5-2.2 billion
- Subtotal armament — ~$15 million
- Subtotal armament (nuclear only) — ~$78 million
- Subtotal armament — ~$76-$326 million
Copyright © 1998 The Brookings Institution