There are around 1,000 private owned warbird jets in the United States and even more throughout the rest of the world. There are more and more people looking into buying a fighter jet of their very own.
While most of us will never have enough money to make this a reality, it is possible. As new models of fighter jets come out, the older ones get decommissioned, and sometimes purchased by the public.
Before making such a big purchase, there are a few things you should know about owning a fighter jet.
1. It’s Easy if You Have Money
Like most things in life, you can buy a fighter jet as long as you can pay for it. There are a lot of MIG-21’s that are up for sale in the U.S. you can also import them. How you will support it, fly it, and eventually re-sell it are other potential issues. Did you know that you can even buy an old Sikorsky UH-1 and have your very own Blackhawk? As you discover, most military aircraft have a civilian equivalent, and sometimes those are easier to support post-de-militarization.
A MIG-21 that is in good enough condition to still fy can be found for around $70,000, while a MIG-29 in the flying condition is often sold for about $5 million. It’s crucial that when you are making a purchase this big that you get your aircraft appraised. VREF specializes in warbirds, military aircraft, and we do appraisals on them all the time!
2. You Might Not Be Able to Fly It
Luckily, most people who are looking into buying a fighter jet are looking to collect it. It would make an impressive conversation piece. We see them parked in strange places, like back yards, or on top of buildings. So if you have no intention of flying it, well it might be much easier to buy it.
The odds of actually being about to fly your fighter jet after buying are not that great. The MIG-21 is one of the few that are easier to maintain and to operate. The F-16, on the other hand, is what most people think of when they hear fighter jet, and it’s next to impossible for you to fly after purchase.
Is all of this legal? Yes. There are numerous examples of civilian-owned fighters in the U.S. One of the most famous cases was actor Michael Dorn, Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation, who at one point owned his own F-86 Sabre fighter. After 9/11, the U.S. military suspended direct sales of military vehicles—particularly tanks and fighter jets—to civilians, so this jet was imported from a NATO or other friendly nation.
3. They Come Stripped
Sorry to disappoint you, but when you buy a fighter jet, most of the fighter will have already been stripped out of it. Even though they are decommissioned and better technology is being used in the new aircraft, the military isn’t going to give civilians access to military weapons.
4. It’s Hard to Buy American Made
If you want an American made fighter jet like the F-16, it’s going to be a little difficult for you to get in the U.S.
The U.S. Airforce used to sell jets to the public when they no longer needed them. Now with the fear of terrorism and arms embargos, they have stopped doing that.
If your heart is set on an American Made military aircraft, then you can try and import one back to the U.S. if you find one overseas. But don’t get any crazy ideas without asking permission from the United States Government, as you will need written permission from the State Department.
Look into Buying a Fighter Jet
Buying a fighter jet isn’t all that hard once you know some of the facts. It does take a lot of money, and you might have to import your aircraft depending on what model you want. But it can be an excellent addition to any collection that you have.
Aircraft like the L-39, Beechcraft T-34’s, even McDonnell Douglas F4’s are all standard aircraft that you find listed for sale.
Buying a fighter jet is not a small purchase by any means. If you want to learn more about the pricing and how much the plane you want is worth, contact us.