How much would it realistically cost to build an Imperial AT-AT Walker? Originally appeared on Quora. 

Answer by Kynan Eng

An Imperial AT-AT Walker will cost approximately $196M to build.

The good news is that the AT-AT is one of the few Star Wars vehicles that can be built using today’s technologies, creating jobs for working families today. It would also be completely useless from a military viewpoint, but that doesn’t matter because it is way cool and impressive.

First we need to collect some reference information:

  • According to Wookieepedia, the AT-AT is 22.5 m high. By looking at some scale drawings, you can then deduce that it is about 28.7 m long (including front cannon) and 7.7 m wide.
  • A good reference for land-based military hardware is the United States M1 Abrams main battle tank (9.77 m long, 2.44 m high, 3.66 m wide, 60 t weight). It has a 1.12 MW gas turbine engine, which can propel it at up to ~70 km/h. The rotating turret of the tank is a rough approximation of the size (but not quite type) of technology that could be used in the leg joints of the AT-AT. The tank cost USD 8.58M to buy in 2012.
  • For those of us (like me) who are not accustomed to tanks, the New Routemaster bus used in London is another useful size reference (11.23 m long, 4.38 m high, 2.52 m wide, 12.4 t weight). It has a 138 kW engine. They cost GBP 355k each (USD 513k as of May 2016).

Below you can see each of these vehicles to scale.

For the rest of the calculation, we will assume that the AT-AT should be at least as survivable as the M1 Abrams tank (ignoring obvious weaknesses in the legs and neck of the AT-AT), and should therefore have a similar weight of armor.

By inspection, you can see that the main hull of the AT-AT is about 2 Abrams long, 3 Abrams high and 2 Abrams wide, i.e. 12 Abrams. The head is approximately one more Abrams. The legs are quite thin, although the feet are large – let’s assume 1 more Abrams per leg. This means that our AT-AT is about 17 Abrams in size, which works out to 1020 t of weight and 19.1 MW of power – more than enough, considering that the AT-AT moves much slower than the Abrams. So the AT-AT vehicle itself will cost around $146M to build.

On top of the vehicle cost comes the main weapons. The AT-AT has two lasers sticking out of its head. I estimated the cost of these in a previous post (How much would it realistically cost to build an Imperial I-Class Star Destroyer?) to be $25M each. So that’s another $50M for the two lasers. At full power, we will need 1 MW of power to run them, which should be covered by the power of the gas turbines.

Total cost: $196M. That’s not so much more than the cost of a F-22 Raptor ($150M).

If you want a version that looks good and walks, but doesn’t have military strength or functionality, it should cost around 9 New Routemaster buses (1 head + 6 body + 2 legs), or $4.6M. Its lower power of 1.2 MW is offset by its much lower weight (112 t), but you might want to upgrade the engine just to make sure. You can also save some weight by removing the 62 seats on each bus (keep two for the head section).

Edit 2016–05–23: It seems that many of you have read this article about the cost of purchasing an AT-AT. I find your faith… disturbing.

How much would it realistically cost to build an Imperial AT-AT Walker?