Status of the F-16 Aircraft Program

PSAD-77-41: Published: Apr 1, 1977. Publicly Released: Apr 1, 1977.

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Under a multinational commitment, the United States, Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands, and Norway plan to purchase at least 998 F-16 fighter aircraft--650 for the United States and 348 for the European countries. Ultimately the U.S. Air Force plans call for procuring 1,388 aircraft. The European countries will participate in co-producing the first 650 U.S. Air Force F-16's, the 348 European aircraft, and a share of sales to other countries. The participation of the four NATO countries has great influence on the program. Program decisions could be affected by European industrial production capability, mission requirements, ability of Europeans to meet funding requirements, and the need to obtain European approval of modifications to the aircraft.

In its evaluation of the F-16 development and procurement program, GAO found that the Air Force is concerned with several potential F-16 problems: F100 engine stalls, demonstration of an improved aerial restart capability, and excessive taxi speed. Tactical Air Command Officials believe that the F-16 needs additional equipment; and that it doesn't have sufficient available space for all desired new capabilities. There is some controversy concerning the combat vulnerability of the aircraft; the inclusion of more air-to-surface operations in the F-16 mission does make it more vulnerable. The program has shown a $7.7 billion cost increase in 1976 due to the 738 aircraft quantity increase and the new capabilities and program estimate revisions. The Air Force contends that the increase in aircraft procurement quantities as a result of European participation will lower the cost of domestic production enough to offset the increased cost of co-production. Schedule delays could threaten the test schedule.

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