Top 10 Most Expensive Helicopters Ever Made


Top-10-Most-Expensive-Helicopters

Way back in the 1500s, Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci sketched an image of the first helicopter in his book of inventions. Still, man wouldn’t fly in a propeller-operated device until Etienne Oehmichen’s brief flight in 1924. In the twenty-first century, we now have autonomous, solar-powered helicopters on Mars—man has clearly come a long way in his quest for flight.

Today, the most expensive helicopter in the world costs $400 million.

With the rise of innovation came the rise of capitalism in America, and the first industrial revolution yielded the world’s first millionaires. Today, the richest man on Earth has a net worth of $268 billion and is working to design a climate-neutral helicopter of his own.

Helicopters have applications beyond ferrying rich folks around. They are at the forefront of military technology and space exploration. As the world grows and expands, so will the capabilities of these incredible machines.

Here are the Top 10 Most Expensive Helicopters in the World:

  1. Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel
  2. NASA’S Ingenuity
  3. AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin
  4. Airbus H225 Super Puma
  5. AgustaWestland AW609 Tiltrotor
  6. Sikorsky S-70i Firehawk
  7. Airbus H215 Super Puma
  8. Lockheed Martin Sikorsky S-92
  9. Bell 412EPX
  10. Bell 525 Relentless

10. Bell 525 Relentless – $15 Million

Bell-525-Relentless
photo source: Jubilant Enpro

The tenth most expensive helicopter in the world is the Bell 525 Relentless helicopter, a $15 million, American-made rotorcraft. It is a best-in-class corporate helicopter that exceeds all industry standards in terms of its flight capabilities.

Why It’s Expensive

The Bell 525 Relentless is a VIP civilian helicopter with an impressive 580 NM range. While the helicopter is certainly an investment, even for the wealthy, this model has a very low maintenance cost per flight. This means it’s capable of holding value over time.

The Relentless is the world’s first triple-redundant fly-by-wire aircraft, so the pilot has to do very little. It has an impressive Garmin G5000H cockpit featuring touchscreen controls and four glass HD display monitors. This is the first cockpit of this design to appear in a helicopter.

9. Bell 412EPX Helicopter – $16 Million

bell-412epx
photo source: Bell Flight

The ninth most expensive helicopter in the world is the Bell 412EPX helicopter, a twin-engine firefighting rotorcraft designed to fight wildfires. This Bell helicopter is a public safety and energy helicopter designed for extreme environments.

Why It’s Expensive

The Bell 412EPX can carry 14 passengers at a speed of 122 KTS, with a range of 357 nautical miles. It has an intense searchlight that makes it capable of firefighting or search and rescue tasks in a variety of extreme conditions. The copter includes a built-in weather radar system as an added safety benefit.

The 412EPX has four touch-controlled displays with high-resolution terrain mapping. It operates smoothly at high altitudes because it features Pratt & Whitney twin engines.

The helicopter is instrumental in fighting climate-induced wildfires on the American west coast and beyond.

8. Lockheed Martin Sikorsky S-92 – $17.7 Million

Sikorsky-S-92
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The eighth most expensive helicopter in the world is the Sikorsky S-92, a military and civil aircraft featuring two GE CT7-8A turboshaft engines. It is one of the safest helicopters in the world.

Why It’s Expensive

The Sikorsky S-92 has safety features including engine burst containment, flaw tolerance, and bird strike capability. It fully adheres to FAA FAR part 29, a set of strict airworthiness standards. The S-92’s military variant, the H-92 Superhawk, is in use by fourteen world governments.

The rotorcraft can carry 19 passengers and two crew members and has a maximum takeoff weight of 27,700 pounds.

7. Airbus H215 Super Puma – $18 Million

Airbus-H215
photo source: Airbus

The seventh most expensive helicopter in the world is the Airbus H215 Super Puma, a civilian helicopter that is nevertheless in use by the Zimbabwean air force. The $18 million helicopters utilize technology found in far more advanced rotorcraft, including the fourth most expensive helicopter, the Airbus H225. The H215 is a twin-engine CAT A-certified helicopter.

Why It’s Expensive

The H215 is a civilian helicopter with all of the capabilities of a public service aircraft, ideal for firefighting and aerial work. It is lightweight due to its state-of-the-art materials, with a uniquely short airframe. It features advanced autopilot assistance using systems frequently found in higher-end aircraft.

The helicopter seats up to 22 passengers and has an external load of 4,500 kilograms. Given all of its advanced features, the company considers $18 million a competitive rate.

6. Sikorsky S-70i Firehawk Helicopter – $24 Million

Sikorsky-S-70i-Firehawk
photo source: Lockheed Martin

The sixth most expensive helicopter in the world is the Sikorsky S-70i Firehawk Helicopter, which is for fighting fires. The $24 million rotorcraft can carry up to 1,000 gallons of water, which is essential when fighting widespread wildfires along the American west coast. The craft only needs one minute of refill time before resuming its important work.

Why It’s Expensive

Our changing world has evolved, and technology has evolved right along with it. As the effects of climate change wreak havoc on communities across the country, fire departments are seeking new ways to save homes and local wildlife. The S-70i Firehawk is an innovative device with an extremely practical and timely function that is necessary for life in the modern age.

The onboard firefighting system is entirely computerized, helping firefighters on board choose tactics based on the source of the blaze. It includes a state-of-the-art searchlight that makes it possible to fight fires at any time of day or night, and under difficult visibility conditions. It is also capable of conducting complex search and rescue operations.

5. AgustaWestland AW609 Tiltrotor – $25 Million

AgustaWestland-AW609-Tiltrotor
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The fifth most expensive helicopter in the world is the AgustaWestland AW609 Tiltrotor, a hybrid helicopter plane. This new aircraft is capable of flying airplane-like distances but can take off and land vertically. The AW609 is in the process of becoming fully certified, which means AgustaWestland cannot yet sell it to commercial owners.

Why It’s Expensive

Innovation is expensive, and a hybrid helicopter has been in the works for over thirty years. The project finally became a reality in 2016, with the first flight tests occurring in 2022. This innovative rotorcraft is the fruit of decades of dreaming, scheming, and collaboration.

When the AW609 is ready for consumers, AgustaWestland anticipates asking between $20 and $30 million—and there’s already a waitlist. The demand for private helicopters is one factor driving up the price. Among its admirers is former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a private aviation aficionado and current helicopter owner.

4. Airbus H225 Super Puma – $29.5 Million

Airbus-H225-Super-Puma
photo source: Airbus

The fourth most expensive helicopter in the world is the Airbus H225 Super Puma, a search-and-rescue aircraft with some of the most advanced autopilot technology on the planet. Despite its $29.5 million price tag, the Airbus H225 is one of the most cost-effective copters due to its range and unusually high payload.

Why It’s Expensive

The Airbus H225 is in use in 20 countries worldwide for its capabilities as a high-class Search and Rescue aircraft. It can carry up to 28 passengers and has a range of 600 nautical miles.

The helicopter can withstand some of the harshest weather conditions, including severe icing. It is the only helicopter to be de-icing certified. This makes it one of the only true all-weather helicopters in existence.

The H225 has a maximum takeoff weight of 11,200 kilograms, which is more than 25,000 pounds. Though it can carry a lot of crew members, the design specifically limits the need for their attention. It has a world-class avionics system that allows for advanced levels of automation.

3. AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin Helicopter – $57 Million

AgustaWestland-AW101
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The third most expensive helicopter in the world is the AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin Helicopter, known as the EH101 before 2007. This $57 million military-grade helicopter is the primary government aircraft in several nations, including Italy and the United Kingdom. The world’s most expensive helicopter, the VH-71 Kestrel, served as the model for this helicopter.

Why It’s Expensive

The AW101 is a modern naval utility helicopter designed for military and governmental use. It is capable of tasks ranging from search-and-rescue and anti-submarine warfare to VIP transportation. Governments have deployed the AW101 for active combat in the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.

Designers have incorporated many of the most advanced technologies when creating the complex aircraft. They utilize military-grade composite materials chosen because they are lightweight and damage-resistant. The helicopters include state-of-the-art avionics systems and active vibration control systems.

The fully-armed aircraft can carry up to 38 passengers or up to five tons of payload. There are four torpedoes on board at all times. Thirteen world governments trust the AW101 to keep their leaders and troops safe.

2. NASA’S Ingenuity Helicopter – $85 Million

NASA-Ingenuity-Helicopter
photo source: NASA

The second most expensive helicopter in the world is NASA’s $85 million Ingenuity helicopter, a small robotic helicopter currently operating on Mars. It is the first aircraft in history to take flight on another planet. Although it weighs less than two kilograms, it’s one of the most advanced helicopters ever conceived by man.

Why It’s Expensive

All vehicles designed by NASA come from the best and brightest minds on Earth, and that expertise, creativity, and knowledge does not come cheap. These engineers designed a solar-powered helicopter that could fly in conditions in a world where humans have never stepped foot. The helicopter can communicate with humans on Earth from a distance of 145.47 million miles.

Ingenuity primarily communicates using data and pictures, and the high-tech camera is one component of its cost. The little helicopter is capable of autonomous flight. It can fly a maximum of once per day, for up to ninety seconds at a time.

Everything that scientists learn from Ingenuity has broader applications. Their hope is to one day send a manned mission to Mars. This little helicopter is paving the way, teaching scientists all they need to know to help human beings survive a walk on the red planet.

1. Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel – $400 Million

VH-71-Kestrel
photo source: Wikipedia

The most expensive helicopter in the world is the Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel, a $400 million Marine helicopter. The state-of-the-art VH-71 was the replacement helicopter for the American presidential Marine One helicopter (VH-3D Sea King or VH-60N White Hawk). The helicopter was a response to terrorist threats in the early 2000s and has features specifically designed for resiliency.

However, the VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program was canceled in June 2009 because of cost overruns and engineering issues related to VH-71. Instead, the U.S. Navy awarded Sikorsky Aircraft a contract to build six VH-92 presidential helicopters, which each cost 217 million and are still under development.

Why It’s Expensive

In the event of a terrorist attack, missile strike, or other act of war, the president of the United States needs to be able to run the country from anywhere. Thus, the VH-71 is more than a helicopter—it’s a full command station with everything a Commander in Chief might need to govern the nation from above the clouds. The biggest consideration is the aircraft’s ability to keep its occupants safe under the harshest and most dangerous flight conditions.

Many of the VH-71’s features are confidential, but we do know a few things about them. Each helicopter is sixty-four feet long and can carry up to fourteen passengers.

The helicopters in the 28-aircraft fleet have antimissile defenses, hardened hulls, and the latest and greatest communications equipment. That includes built-in wi-fi and the ability to video conference in mid-air. All communication onboard benefits from high-level encryption.

The original plan was to retrofit existing helicopters to add improvements. Over time, however, it became clear that Lockheed Martin was designing a brand-new aircraft with never-before-seen capabilities. Though we may not know all of the details, we can be certain that there is no other helicopter like them on Earth.

The World’s Most Expensive Helicopter

The average citizen will never own a helicopter, let alone take a ride in the most expensive helicopter in the world. Smaller helicopters, like drones, are becoming more commonplace and affordable for the average person. Even if you never get to relax in a personal luxury helicopter, you can pilot a smaller one while you continue to dream!

There’s a lot more to learn about the world’s most expensive objects. If you’re interested in traveling in style, check out this post about the most expensive cruise ships in the world.

Eric Lyons

Eric is a subject-matter expert on the world's most expensive luxuries and collectibles. He has explored thousands of luxuries and collectibles over the past few years and now brings them to readers around the world.

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