F-16 fleet attrition vs. airframe age
This graph explores the link between airframe age and attrition (aircraft written off after a mishap). It shows the number of airframes lost to attrition as a function of the airframe age. It also provides the cumulative distribution for the attrition. For example, mishaps with airframes 2 years old or younger account for 15% of the F-16 fleet losses.
Disclaimer: This report is generated in real-time from our F-16 Aircraft Database. We strive to keep our database up-to-date and complete, nevertheless for some countries data is hard to verify (e.g. accuracy for the Middle East is only 90%). Please contact us if you have any questions or feedback.
- Horizontal Axis: F-16 airframe age in number of years
- Vertical Axis: Number of aircraft lost to attrition and cumulative attrition distribution in percent
- Series: The bars show the number of F-16 aircraft lost at a certain age; the line shows the fraction of the attrition that occurs on or before a certain age
As already indicated, the attrition rate for young airframes is fairly high - 50% of F-16 aircraft losses occurs with airframes that are 6 years old or younger. This does obviously not mean that new aircraft have a 50% chance of crashing - it simply means that halve of the attrition occurs with new aircraft.
The main explanation for this is that young airframes are typically found in air forces just starting F-16 operations (one notable exception is the USAF, which had a more or less continous delivery of F-16s over 20+ years). When starting operations with a new aircraft and training personal, attrition rates are likely to be higher.
The reason why we don't see the attrition rate increasing for older aircraft is that F-16 aircraft are thoroughly monitored and air forces will retire F-16 airframes before they reach their end-of-service-life. Also, many of the older airframes have been through at least one upgrade program or Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), such as the Midl-Life Update (MLU), Operation Capabilities Upgrade (OCU) or Falcon-Up. These programs bring the airframes back to "as new" condition, further explaining the lack of "upward slope" in the bathtub curve.