The F-16 Program

Progress, Concerns, and Uncertainties Gao ID: C-MASAD-81-10 February 28, 1981

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.


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