The F-16 Program:

Progress, Concerns, and Uncertainties

C-MASAD-81-10: Published: Feb 28, 1981. Publicly Released: Feb 28, 1981.

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The F-16 was conceived as the low element in a high/low concept of mixing high performance, costly aircraft with greater numbers of simpler, less expensive aircraft. It eventually evolved into a multimission aircraft to replace the F-4 aircraft. It is being developed as a cooperative undertaking with four North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries. Other countries have bought or are considering buying the F-16. The program cost estimate is about $18.7 billion.

The F-16 program is generally progressing on schedule and meeting performance requirements. Its mission capability rates have met or exceeded Air Force expectations. However, technical, operational, and program concerns and uncertainties still exist. Provisions are being built into the program to allow for future improvements which would transform it into a more expensive and sophisticated weapons system. Risk and uncertainty exist regarding the improvement efforts which are being considered. The F-16 achieved its initial operational capability on schedule, but future site activation dates have been stretched out because production rates were reduced. The F-16 program cost estimate has increased primarily due to a twofold increase in the quantity of aircraft to be acquired, higher than anticipated inflation, and a planned reduction in future production rates. Incorporation of planned improvements would further increase program costs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should review the above mission element need statements and either (1) formally identify the improvements as the accepted approaches to satisfy the mission deficiencies or (2) direct that other possible solutions be solicited and given adequate consideration in accordance with OMB Circular A-109.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct that mission element need statements be drafted, based on mission analyses at broad mission levels (including the Air Force and the Army contributions), to establish a Defense-wide position on the mission deficiencies being addressed by the planned improvements for the F-16 and other aircraft.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should inform the Congress as to the current and expected effect on the U.S. F-16 program of the foreign military sales to Israel and Egypt.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should provide justification to the Congress for the total number of F-16s and the number of differently configured F-16s that would be required if the improvements are incorporated as now planned.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should provide to Congress in the Air Force's budget hearings an assessment of the cost, risk, and impact on F-16 logistics support that the F-16 improvements will have if incorporated.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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