The Quest for Commonality: A Comparison of the TFX and JSF Programs
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIRPOWER STUDIES
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This study is a comparative analysis of the effect that joint development has had on the TFX and JSF aircraft development programs. The two programs have been compared to determine the degree of interservice commonality present, the methods used to achieve the common designs, and the effects the demand for commonality have had on the design and performance of the aircraft. In 1961, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara initiated the Tactical Fighter Experimental TFX program for the US Navy and Air Force. The program was designed to save 1 billion in development costs by using a common airframe to fulfill the Navys fleet air-defense fighter requirement and the Air Forces long range nuclear and conventional tactical fighter requirement. In 1968, the Navy TFX program was canceled due to the test aircrafts poor performance and incompatibility with carrier operations. After 1968, the Air Force was left with a TFX design that was compromised by McNamara aircrafts original commonality requirement. Ultimately, the Air Force fielded the TFX as different variants of the F-111 at five times the planned unit cost per airframe. The aircraft never developed the performance capabilities proposed in the original program. The failure of the TFX can be directly attributed to the restrictions and requirements imposed by the common development program. The Joint Strike FighterJSF program is also based on the concept of saving development costs by building a common family of aircraft to fulfill the strike fighter requirements for the US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps and the UK Royal Navy. While the JSF program was designed to avoid some of the problems that plagued the TFX, other problems of the earlier program have emerged in the JSF program as well.
- Attack and Fighter Aircraft
- Military Forces and Organizations