Trying to determine the unit price of pretty much any military equipment is extremely difficult, remember those cheap Blackhawk helicopters?
Whether the price includes training and logistics, spares, is in a multi-year contract, different variants or engines or development costs will determine the price, this makes making comparisons with what one nation pays with another, almost impossible.
What the US Army might pay for a Blackhawk is not the same as Columbia or the UK.
The same goes for Hercules, the Hercules is often touted as a cheap aircraft, usually when comparing it to the A400M Atlas.
With great timing, a couple announcements on the cost of the C130 (models various)
The US Air Force…
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Marietta, Georgia, has been awarded a $968,745,411 undefinitized contract action modification (P00005) to previously awarded contract FA8625-14-C-6450 for C-130J multi-year production aircraft. Contractor will provide 17 C-130J aircraft in the following configurations: six C-130J-30, one HC-130J, nine MC-130J, and one KC-130J aircraft.
If one wanted, it would be easy to do some back of a fag packet maths and come up with a unit price average of $57 million, or cheap as the proverbial chips.
At the same time, France has agreed on terms for the purchase of two C-130J and two KC-130J.
How much, a whopping $650 million, using the same basic maths, $162 million each.
From two internet sources, a price from £57 million to £162 million for the same aircraft type.
But look carefully at the DCSA link, the Major Defence Equipment (aircraft and four spare engines) comes in at $355 million, or $88 million each. The rest is additional equipment, training and other support items.
It also provides an example rule of thumb that unit price is usually doubled, and this is even for a nation with an existing fleet of C130’s, albeit older versions.
This is the reason why anything that quotes a unit price should always be treated with caution, the devil is always in the details.