Danish attrition is near the fleet average, which is quite an achievement since they operate the F-16 since 1980.
The cumulative worldwide F-16 fleet attrition rate is (at the time of writing) 11.59% - meaning more than 1 in 10 of all F-16 aircraft produced have been lost to attrition. It is important to stress that this is the cumulative attrition, i.e. the total attrition over all the years an air force has operated the F-16. Subsequent graphs will illustrate the yearly attrition rate, allowing us to compare the relative safety. In this graph, one would expect long-time F-16 operators to be above the fleet average (since they have been accumulating aircraft losses for a longer time), and younger F-16 operators to be below the fleet average.
In the group with above-average fleet attrition, we indeed find the long-term F-16 operators like the US Air Force
and the four original European Participating Air Forces: Belgian Air Force, Royal Netherlands
Air Force, Royal Danish Air Force, and Royal Norwegian Air Force. These all have between 25 and 35 years of operations with the F-16 (note that for the USAF, "operations" are used in the broadest sense of the word - including the early flight tests with the YF-16
and FSD aircraft). Three of the 4 EPAF
nations occupy the top-3: Norway
lost 23% of its F-16 fleet to attrition, Belgium
20.5%, and the Netherlands
17%. For all three air forces, the F-16 represented a quantum leap in technology as it replaced the F-104 Starfighter fleets. This is often cited as a contributing factor to the higher attrition rates for these air forces, although we have no data to quantify this.
Of particular interst in the high group is the Italian Air Force (AMI
), which lost nearly 15% of its F-16s to attrition, despite being one of the younger F-16 operators (Italy
first started flying its leased F-16 ADF
aircraft in 2000).
The group with below-average attrition contains the younger F-16 operators, as can be expected. The only notable exception is Israel
, but since our attrition data for Israel is incomplete we expect the actual attrition rate for Israel to be significantly higher.
This graph doesn't allow for easy comparison of attrition rates between air forces, since long-time operators have a higher overall attrition than short-time operators. In the next graph we'll remove this impact by using the average annual attrition as a key metric.