The big question is how long the 26 Rafale will take to be delivered given the current backlog in orders.You won't get much cheaper if you want a frontline fighter. F-15EX costs 80 million USD per aircraft, Rafale is probably cca 100 million USD for aircraft itself... but aircraft need tools, weapons, equipment and so on.
So when you add everything together, 200 - 300 million USD per aircraft is a given. Even for something like F-16 or Gripen.
I did not want the F18 because we already operate so many different fighter aircraft and adding another one to the zoo would make the problem worse. However, the F18 had a big advantage since the line is winding down and there aren't anymore orders in the book. We could have gotten all 26 delivered by 2026.