has one of the highest attrition rates, despite being one of the younger operators of the F-16.
The average anual attrition for the worldwide F-16 fleet is 0.33% - meaning that every year - on average - 15 F-16s are written off due to attrition (0.33% of around 4,500 F-16s built equals 15 aircraft). Obviously, the biggest drawback of calculating an anual average is that you ignore the fact that F-16s are not built and delivered in one single batch - rather the fleets are built up over the years. Still, the average annual attrition rate allows us to compare attrition rates for different air forces with longer and shorter F-16 histories.
Before we start analyzing the data, it's important to note that our attrition data for countries like Egypt
are partially incomplete - actual numbers are likely to be higher. Since these countries are below average on this graph and have sizeable inventories, the worldwide fleet average is probably underestimated on this graph. In fact, you would expect USAF to represent the worldwide fleet average, simply because it represents more than 50% of the worldwide fleet.
That being said, one interesting observation is that most of the longer-term F-16 operators have above-average anual attrition, while many of the younger F-16 operators have below-average annual attrition rates. Airframe age is unlikely to be a factor, since F-16s have strict lifetime limitations and are retired or receive a service life extension when they near their end-of-service-life. Two explanations remain:
- Early adopters like the US, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway, were defining and refining operating procedures as they went along. Air and ground crews had to figure out how to fly and maintain an advanced aircraft like the F-16. This could account for higher attrition rates in the early days.
- Early versions like the block1/5/10 have higher attrition rates than later models (like the block 40/50 series). Of course, this could be linked to the early adopter syndrome described above, but obviously LMTAS' engineers have continued to improve the F-16 design over the years. See our F-16 versions attrition report for more information.
The notable exception, as already mentioned in previous reports, is the Italian Air Force (AMI
), with an annual attrition rate of 2.45% - nearly eight times the worldwide average. One mitigating factor is that the AMI
is only operating a small number of leased F-16 ADF
aircraft - so even a few mishaps would already translate into a high attrition rate.