F-16 Reference

Cancelled Orders

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Cancelled Orders

Argentina - Fuerza Aérea Argentina

The Argentinean Air Force had been looking for a replacement of its old Mirage III intercept and attack aircraft for some time. Considering the great financial problems the country has faced the last years, these plans have been put on hold. The Argentinean Air Force is considering to buy up to 48 fighter aircraft.

In May of 2006 the Argentinian Chief of Staff stated that the F-16 wasn't in the running - although a DSCA document exists referring to 36 single seat and 6 double seat models under a program called 'Peace Condor' - for this fighter bid since Argentinian airstrips have traditionally a lot of durt and stones on them so the lower intake would be a high risk for FOD. Probably the Argentinians will go for the Mirage 2000 just as its neighbour Brazil. A decision hasn't been taken up to now.

Austria - Österreichische LuftstreitkräFTE

Lockheed had proposed the F-16C/D to the Austrian air division, who needed an urgent replacement for its obsolete Draken interceptor aircraft. An F-16 had even been painted with Austrian roundels, just to show how handsome it would look. Austria also considered the Saab JAS-39 Gripen, Dassault Mirage 2000-5, Boeing/MDD F/A-18C/D, the Eurofighter Typhoon and an export variant of the MiG-29. The Rafale was not being considered.

After a round of talks with the different manufacturers, the Austrian government finally decided to purchase 18 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters to update their air defenses. After major flooding occurred in 2002, this decision was put on hold, but in 2003 the finla go-ahead of the project was announced.

Brazil - Força Aérea Brasileira

Brazil was looking for a first batch of 12 to 24 fighter aircraft, in order to replace the aging Mirage III fleet. The bid was put on hold in January 2003 but taken up again in October of that year.

Brazil would choose from the Lockheed-Martin F-16C/D, the Swedish JAS-39 Gripen, the Russian build Su-35, and finally the Dassault Mirage 2000BR. The latter teamed up with the domestic aircraft manufacturer Embraer to take a chance at the bid.

In February of 2005 the Brazilean government once again abandonned its plans for the Air Force upgrade. The bidding process was canceled because technological advancements would have rendered the aircraft being considered obsolete, the Air Force said in a statement.

Ultimately the Brazilean government decided to purchase 12 second-hand Mirage 2000 fighters from France.

Canada - Canadian Forces Air Command

Photo from the Canadian DOD when they were considering to purchase the F-16. Canada chose the F-18 instead. Pictured is the YF-16 #72-1567 in the CCV colors, albeit without the two canards under the intake. Also note the BVR outfit with AIM-9 and AIM-7 missiles. [GD photo from Jon Somerville collection]
In the late seventies and early eighties the Canadian government was seeking a replacement for their CF-104 and CF-5 fighters. A competition was organised called 'The Canadian New Fighter Aircraft compition'. The evaluation during this competition included the F-16. Many of the European NATO countries and the USAF were buying the aircraft already and since the Canadan Air Force was also involved in the defence of West-Germany, a buy of F-16s would mean an even bigger standardisation among the NATO countries.

The initial offer General Dynamics made was for the purchase of up to 177 F-16s. The final decision had to be made between the F-16 and the F/A-18 - odd enough the same decision that had to be made in the original USAF fighter competition between the YF-16 and the YF-17 (the F/A-18s predeseccor). Ultimately the Candian government opted to buy 138 F/A-18s, mainly because this aircraft was bigger and had two engines giving a supposedly better survival rate with engine failure (a theory that has proved inadiquate over the years).

Croatia - Hrvatsko Ratno Zrakoplovstvo

Rumor has it that Croatia is looking to replace its MiG-21bis force with a modern fighter, preferably the F-16. In the late nineties a couple of Aviano based USAF F-16C's performed a series of demonstration flights in Croatia to back a possible sale of F-16s to that country.

In July of 2017 the Croatian MoD announced it had restarted the MiG-21 replacement procurement program and issued a request for proposals for up to 12 aircraft to five countries: Greece, Israel and the United States for the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, Sweden for the Saab JAS 39 Gripen, and South Korea for the KAI T-50 Golden Eagle.

In November of 2017 Croatian media announced the offers from Sweden for the Saab JAS 39 Gripen and Israel for a mixed-fleet of A/B and C/D General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon variants had been downselect from the four received letters of intent.

On March 29th, 2018 the Croatian government unanimously adopted a decision on the procurement of 12 F-16 C/D Barak block 30 aircraft from Israel for 2.9 billion kunas (around €420 million). Besides 12 jets, Croatia will get two flight simulators, training for its pilots and maintenance staff in Israel, aircraft weapons, a package of spare parts and equipment for ground support, infrastructure construction and adaptation, and three years of support, including the presence of Israeli instructors in Croatia. The first two jets are expected to be delivered in 2020, and the rest by 2022.

On December 6th, 2018, it was reported that the Trump administration halted the arms deal citing Israel's refusal to comply with the U.S. arms transfer guidelines. According to the guidelines all modifications done to the planes need to be removed before the transfer of ownership is completed (i.e., return the jets to factory conditions). On December 27th, 2018 the United States Congress gave the go ahead to complete the arms deal under the condition that the planes are returned to factory conditions. However, this was unsatisfactory for the Croatians and the deal ultimately fell through completely.

The program was revived once more in 2020 with a new procedure and 4 parties engaging in it, being: again used Israeli F-16s, used French Dassault Rafales, new F-16V and new Swedish JAS Gripen C/D. In late May of 2021 the Croation government announced the purchase of 12 used French Dassault Rafale aircraft to replace its Mig-21 fighters thus concluding the long lasting saga of this program.

Czech Republic - Vzdusné síly Armády Ceské Republiky

Ever since joining NATO in 1999, the Czech Republic had expressed its intention to update its current fighter force with more modern Western equipment. Up until recently no action was taken. However, in July the Czech government decided to purchase up to 14 second-hand aircraft to update its Air Force.

In 2001 a decision was made to purchase up to 24 JAS-39 Gripen fighters. However, the major floods that devestated parts of the country in 2002 delayed a firm decision and the order for the Gripens was cancelled.

At the end of 2003 however, the Czech government finally announced that the winner of their fighter competition was the Swedish JAS-39 Gripen. With that decision, the Czech government stressed its earlier commitment to the Gripen. This decision was made after SAAB agreed to a 140% offset agreement.

Hungary - Magyar Légierö

After being invited in July 1997 to join in a first round of alliance expansion that will bring in Poland and the Czech Republic as well, Hungary said it would launch a $1 billion tender for around 30 new planes to update its aging Soviet Mig-21s once the conditions and requirements of its NATO membership were clear.

Russian aircraft stood little chance in this competition, as Hungary was very eager to join NATO through the PfP (Partnership for Peace) program, and Western equipment can only speed things up. The Air Force was considering the Rafale, Gripen and F-16 and enjoyed demonstrations from all three aircraft. The 1997 Salon du Bourget saw fierce battles being fought between the representatives of the competing companies over the orders. Most Eastern European potential customers hoped that increased employment, technology transfers and compensation orders would pay for their new fighters. As this proved not to be the case, sales to that part of the world had to wait until after the change of millennium.

But when NATO talks began in September 1997, Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs said the country might delay the upgrade of its fighter fleet, if NATO confirmed it saw modernization of radar systems as a priority.

In November 1997, Hungary's defense minister announced his country would not be able to meet NATO's requirements for air readiness (more specific the minimum flying time for pilots set at 180-200 hours per year) unless it got new fighter planes. Hungarian pilots flew MiG-29s and MiG-21s for only 50 to 60 hours per year.

In October 1998, Hungary officially announced that it couldn't afford new fighter aircraft. Hungary also announced it didn't not have the funds to buy new aircraft. It was considering extending the service life of its MiG-29s, leasing aircraft, or purchasing light aircraft such as the L-159.

On September 10th, 2001, the Hungarian Government eventually decided to lease 14 JAS-39A/B Gripens from the Swedish AF. A lease agreement for 10 years was signed on December 20th, 2001. After the Parliamentary elections in April, 2002, the new Government aimed at an upgraded version of the Gripen fighter. On February 3rd, 2003, a modified agreement was signed for a 10 years lease of 12 single-seat JAS-39C and 2 twin-seat JAS-39D Gripens added with a commitment to buy the aircraft after the leasing period.

Iran - Imperial Iranian Air Force

Artist impression of how the Iranian F-16s would have looked, if they would have been delivered. You can clearly see the shape of the early YF-16 design. (GD impression)
The first foreign customer, beyond the four European NATO originators, of the F-16 program was Iran. As a part of the Shah's plan to modernize the Imperial Iranian Air Force, Iran signed a letter of intent on October 27th, 1976 for 160 F-16 aircraft, with the possibility of a follow-on order for 140 more. However, the Iranian revolution of 1979 which resulted in the overthrow of the Shah and the rise of the Islamic fundamentalist regime which currently rules the country, caused the order to be cancelled.

Unfortunately, one immediate effect of the cancellation of the Iranian order was that the individual unit cost of the F-16 was sharply driven upward. However, many of the F-16s intended for Iran were eventually sold to Israel.

Parts and maintenance equipment has arrived in Iran as early as 1978 and ground personnel have been given training (Ground support equipment was later sold to Pakistan).

New Zealand - Royal New Zealand Air Force

A RNZAF delegation went to the Bone yard at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, to inspect the 28 airframes. (RNZAF photo)
The New Zealand Government announced on December 1st, 1998, that it would lease-buy the 28 Pakistani F-16s which have been kept in storage at the AMARC (Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Center) at Davis-Monthan AFB, also known as the (desert) Bone yard. The Vipers had to replace New Zealand's 19 aging, subsonic A-4K Skyhawk strike planes. The aircraft were thoroughly inspected to ensure that they were still in mint condition.

One airframe (#95627) was selected for closer inspection (RNZAF photo)
The aircraft were stored at AMARC in 1990 as a direct result of the embargo against Pakistan. The aircraft were put in Flyable Hold for 5 years, during which time 85% of each aircraft's fuel system was preserved with JP-9, and each aircraft had its engine run once every 45 days. This resulted in the curious situation that most of those aircraft now have more engine run time than airtime, the latter being only 6 hours. This low air-time figure, plus the fact that these aircraft are the most modern F-16A/Bs ever built, is the main reason why New Zealand decided to buy these second-hand F-16s.

New Zealand's minority government claimed it would make a huge savings by leasing the planes. The 10-year lease for the F-16A/B block 15OCU fighters costs about NZ$200 million ($105 million). The lease should save NZ$431 million over the cost of buying new planes next century. The government opted to acquire the F-16s under a lease-buy deal, with payments spread over 10 years and delivery starting in 30 months.

Pakistan originally paid Lockheed-Martin for the supersonic fighters in 1990, but Congress blocked delivery over concerns about that country's developing nuclear capacity.

In 2002 the newly elected government decided to abandon the plans to replace the A-4K with the Pakistani F-16s. The reason for the cancellation was because the government decided that an air combat force was not in line with its policies. Therefore the combat force was disbanded entirely.

If the aircraft would have been delivered, they would have been operated by 75 Squadron at Ohakea and No. 2 Squadron, which is a detachment based at Nowra, NSW in Australia providing air attack training for the Australian Navy (the RNZAF got paid by Australia to undertake this task).

South Africa - Suid-Afrikaanse Lugmag

Rumor has it that a benignly cheap price is being asked for second-hand F-16s, which would help beef up the African Crisis Response Force, should it ever come to anything.

In early 1999 however, South Africa seemed to express a definite preference for 28 JAS-39 Gripen aircraft, with an option of 20 more. The South African government has signed an agreement for the purchase of the Gripen, which will be delivered by late 2003.

Spain - Ejército del Aire

Back in 1979 the Spanish government tested the F-16 at Torrejon AB to evaluated a successor for its older fighter aircraft. A Dutch F-16B (#J-260) was sent to Spain for this purpose. The Spanish governmet eventually opted for the F/A-18 aircraft instead.

In 1995 the USAF offered the Ejercito del Aire forty ex-USAF F-16A's to help fill in the gap until the arrival of the Eurofighter Typhoon, which is not now expected to enter service in Spain until 2005 at the earliest.

The United States government offered about 50 F-16 aircraft to re-equip the 21st wing (the Moron Roosters), which had retired its F-5s in 1992 and was using C-101 advanced trainers as an interim solution.

The Spanish government, however, did not accept this offer and decided to buy about 24 second-hand (US Navy-surplus) F-18s. The Spanish Air Force was already operating F-18s and starting to operate a new fighter would have been much more expensive and complicated.

Special thanks

  • Hartmuth Schroettner;
  • Allan Hansen;
  • Mario Serelle;
  • Dutch;
  • Tomislav;
  • Todd Stephenson;
  • Jarmo Lindberg;
  • Dan.

Errors and Omissions

Apr 12, 2016 - 05:40 PM
F-16 vs F-18 in SPAIN

The Spanish Air Force preferred the F-16. The US Navy covertly pressured the Spanish Government to purchase the F-18 because this was one of the last countries in Europe left considering purchasing F-18s and the Navy wanted a European ally to be using F-18s so they could aid in staging, maintenance and deployment in potential wartime operations.

My father worked for General Dynamics and was a key person in the sales team for Spain. It was a great experience but ultimately very frustrating and disappointing. The Navy's alleged (I can offer no incontrovertible proof) actions in this matter were strictly illegal, but everyone looked the other way because, ultimately it was in the US's best interests to have an ally operating F-18s in Europe. They got a less capable (for their needs), more expensive (to purchase and to maintain), and more complex fighter system. I do know that the Spanish Test Pilot Team and Lead Officers were very disappointed with the decision.

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