This is how much the plane cost just to develop and procure. This does not include how much it cost to operate the plane. It is an outrage when you think about it. I use the CPI, Gold and Silver as indicators of inflation. In the early 60's, gold was pegged to the dollar at 35 dollars per ounce. Silver up until 1964 was what all American money could be redeemed for at any bank or store. Silver is what our coinage consisted of and each paper dollar could be exchanged for a silver coin that contained .77 of a troy ounce silver. The CPI does not include silver or gold in its estimate of inflation. I average the three of them to come up with a more reasonable estimate of inflation.
$36,126,914,692.30. This does not include the M-21 and YF-12A programs.
The Blackbird, in CPI adjusted dollars, was a Billion Dollar Plane! The F-22 Raptor's 339 million dollar price tag seems almost reasonable in comparison to
In CPI inflation adjusted dollars the Blackbird was over ten times the price of the Raptor. The Blackbird's successor the Aurora must have had a staggering price tag as well.
Update 17 January 2016
I believe that the cancellation of the Project PLUTO program, on the day of Kennedy's death, had something to do with the assassination of JFK. He was set to go after the contractors that worked on the ANP. They were looking at prison time. The Blackbird, if it had been used as planned as a bomber, would have changed the game in Vietnam as well. It is unlikely there would have been a Hanoi Hilton full of American pilots, if A-12's were doing the bulk of the bombing. The price of the Blackbird program was on par with that of the Apollo program, which was also a cover for a military program. A single Blackbird cost more than the yearly defense budget for the whole of the 1960's. The Space race was in reality a race to maintain preemptive strike superiority. Throughout the 1950's the U.S. maintained a program of "overflight" of the Soviet , utilizing Canberra bombers and U-2's. Ostensibly this program was "reconnaissance" in reality it was a psychological warfare campaign to show the Soviets that America could bomb them with impunity.
Dewar, James A. To the End of the Solar System: The Story of the Nuclear Rocket. Lexington, Ky.: U of Kentucky, 2004. Print.
Pluto 700 Million and $5 Billion [1961 dollars] for 240 ramjets Dewar 65.
14 September 2018 Addition
|Project PLUTO was the cover for the development of the Blackbird.|
13 February 2019
Extrapolating from these numbers and applying them to the 6 initial planes procured by the Air Force gives us a more startling result. The first initial planes cost $670,000,000 per plane. The first mover cost of the first six planes was truly staggering. It is no wonder Kennedy wanted to kill the plane. The per unit cost of the six initial planes cost 50% more than the first Nimitz class nuclear carrier.
After work was completed on the U-2 in 1955, work began on it's successor. This plane would become the SR-71. The budget for the ANP more than doubles in this time. It jumps from $44,791,00 to $91,180,000 in the period 1955 to 1956. 83% of the money $867,607,000 spent during the fifteen years of the NEPA/ANP was spent in the last six years of the program, right in step with the development of the SR-71.