If you think that it would be pretty cool to own a fighter jet, you’re not alone.
But can a civilian even buy a fighter jet?
Yes, civilians can in fact buy fighter jets as long as the plane has been demilitarized.
Governments demilitarize fighter jets after retiring them from service by removing all their weapons, and sometimes radar technology.
The demilitarized planes are then usually sold to private companies or individuals, which are used for a variety of purposes, ranging from decor to training pilots.
It’s also possible to purchase a demilitarized fighter jet for personal flights.
Buying a demilitarized fighter jet costs anywhere between $50,000 and $30 million, depending on the plane’s model and condition.
Naturally, older fighter jets cost much less than newer ones.
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What Does Demilitarized Mean?
A demilitarized plane has all its weapons, including missiles, machine guns, and bombs, removed.
Some nations, like the U.S., also remove additional components, like radar technology, for some former fighter jets.
US demilitarization may even render a plane incapable of flight.
Other countries, like the UK, only remove the weapons.
Demilitarized planes are then sold to private companies or private individuals, who may then use the planes for training, decoration, or other purposes.
How Much a Demilitarized Fighter Jet Costs
Most old demilitarized fighter jets cost between $50,000 and $400,000, while newer ones can cost into the millions, depending on the plane’s model and conditions.
For example, a demilitarized F-16 can sell for $5 to $10 million.
The Cheapest Fighter Jet a Civilian Can Buy
The cheapest demilitarized fighter jet a civilian can buy is the Fouga Magister, which costs around $80,000
The Fouga Magister was a lightweight vintage jet that was mostly used for both basic and intermediate flight training.
A Civilian Can Even Fly a Fighter Jet
Civilians can fly demilitarized fighter jets provided they have the relevant credentials.
The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the United States requires candidates to pass multiple requirements to fly demilitarized fighter jets.
These requirements may include having a certification, instrument rating, and at least a US third-class medical certificate or equivalent.
In short, a civilian can fly a fighter jet as long as the plane is within the weight limits for their license, and they have a type rating for it
But Flying a Fighter Jet isn’t Easy
Flying a fighter jet can be extremely difficult – and not only because it requires extensive training.
Fighter jets also have more complicated controls than those of civilian planes, so a civilian pilot should be highly trained before attempting a flight.
Another factor is that most fighter jets fly at much higher altitudes, upwards of 60,000 feet, than commercial and private planes, which mostly fly below 45,000 feet.
Pilots must be able to withstand forces up to 9Gs, which renders most people unconscious.
Fighter jets are designed to fly at high speeds for short distances to complete combat missions and return to base.
Is Buying a Fighter Jet Worth It?
Buying a fighter jet is worth it if you’re interested in a thrill-seeking flying experience or want to own a piece of history.
Many private individuals also buy demilitarized planes to do stunts at airshows.
Otherwise, there is not much utility in owning a fighter jet.
A fighter jet would also have both a high purchase cost and high maintenance costs.
You’re also subject to multiple legal requirements, including multiple certifications before flying the plane.
If you’re unable to meet these requirements, you won’t be able to fly the plane at all.
A Civilian Can Get a Ride in a Fighter Jet
It’s possible for a civilian to get a ride in a fighter jet.
Some places in the world, including the United States and Canada, let anyone book a ride on a fighter jet, which can be quite the experience.
These rides are usually short and expensive, though, and the operator may also be required to ensure you meet certain medical criteria before letting you on board.
Provided you can afford it and are medically fit, you could book a ride in a fighter jet today.
- Civilians can only purchase demilitarized fighter jets, which happens once the jet has been retired by the government.
- Demilitarized fighter jets have their weapons removed, so civilians can only use them for decor, training, and recreational flights.
- Demilitarized fighter jets are expensive, costing anywhere from $50,000 to $10 million.
- Demilitarized planes may also have limited practical use and high maintenance costs.
- A civilian is required to obtain multiple certifications and licenses before they can legally fly a demilitarized fighter jet they purchased.
- Demilitarized fighter planes are more difficult to fly than civilian planes.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.