Status of the Air Force's F-16 Aircraft Program

PSAD-78-36: Published: Apr 24, 1978. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 1978.

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The multinational F-16 single-engine fighter aircraft has been approved for full production; the first-production F-16 is scheduled for delivery in August 1978. The United States and four European countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway) plan to purchase 998 F-16s, and a letter of offer and acceptance has been signed for sale of 160 F-16s to Iran.

The significant advantages that this aircraft holds for NATO standardization and future cooperative ventures may far outweigh any risk caused by the accelerated pace of the program. However, a number of uncertainties about the F-16 remain: critical development and operational flight testing remains, issues of the F-16's ability to survive and remain invulnerable in battle remain unresolved, the F-100 engine problems are serious because it has only one engine, and the rate of loss due to engine malfunction is currently estimated to be three times higher than called for by Air Force specifications. The basic delivery schedule requirements have caused some degree of concurrency between full-scale development, production, and deployments, and this has created an element of risk for the production program that could complicate correction of subsystem design problems.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Matter: The Secretary of Defense should: require the Secretary of the Air Force to review the F-16 program schedule and identify management decision points and key indicators of program progress; require a complete program review before making any commitments for F-16 purchases beyond the present commitment to buy 650 aircraft; revise Selected Acquisition Report instructions to provide not only the reporting of the Office of the Secretary's approved program cost estimate, but also the services' best program cost estimate; and require that any request for congressional approval of future F-16 foreign military sales use the F-16 master plan guidelines as specific criteria for assessing the sales effect on the U.S. Air Force program.


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