Blog

Blog

Remember 1977, When the F-16 Was America’s Problem Child?

Featured in:

The iconic fighter and today’s F-35 shared many of the same problems.

New York Times newspaper article describes a beleaguered American fighter program enduring delays, escalating costs, and technical problems. Another article about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter no doubt, right? Nope. It’s an article from 1977 about the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The F-16 was the original multinational fighter. Developed by the United States with Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway as partners, the fighter was designed to be an agile, lightweight, daytime fighter to replace aging fighters such as the F-5 Freedom Fighter and the F-104 Starfighter. At $6,091,000 per unit—$27.1 million when adjusted for inflation—it was also supposed to be inexpensive.

Many of the F-16’s past problems are mirror images of the issues we see in the F-35. According to the article, the Air Force expected the F-16’s research and development costs rose by some $7 billion to reach $13.8 billion by 1986. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $54.7 billion in today’s dollars. F-35 R&D costs, on the other hand, are estimated at $107 billion dollars to date.

Like the F-35, the F-16’s problems arose from technological issues and design challenges. The fly-by-wire mechanism of the F-16, in which an aerodynamically unstable but highly maneuverable aircraft was tamed by computers to keep it flying, was an expensive problem that was eventually solved. Like the F-35, the F-16 had problems with its engine and also had to be modified to placate U.S. allies who wanted a fighter capable of air-to-ground missions, a real multi-role fighter.

Still, as similar as the problems between these two planes are, the F-35’s problems are much more intense. The F-35 was originally slated to cost $50 million apiece—nearly twice the original cost of the F-16 at today’s prices—but the three versions of the plane currently run anywhere from $112 to $120 million each. The F-16 encountered months of delays, but the F-35 A/B/C models will, on average, be delayed half a decade.

Yes, America and her allies have been down this road before, but this time it is a lot rockier.

This model is available in multiple sizes from Amazon – CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO GET YOURS.

Latest articles

Related articles

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ICONIC SR-71 BLACKBIRD: HOW THE...

The aircraft was painted black, and soon earned its name: “Blackbird.” At Lockheed’s advanced development group, the legendary...

The Royal Air Force’s Plan to Make this Bomber...

Here's What You Need to Remember: The Vulcan “fighter” wasn’t the only air-to-air version of a heavy bomber....

The Stuka Dive Bomber: Hitler’s Ultimate Terror Weapon

Perhaps no weapon was as closely associated with the Nazi German in early in World War II...

During World War II, the ‘Wooden Wonder’ Freed Prisoners...

Special operations forces are famously known today for a special task—hostage and prisoner rescue. These missions usually...

Time for a Stealth A-10 Warthog?

Time for a stealth A-10 Warthog: Last year, this reporter happened to be outside on a warm and...

PHANTOM SURVIVORS: GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

Operational F-4s have dwindled over the past decade, with some notable retirements and events. The advent of modern...