Influence of Prototype Concept and Cost Ceilings on Airframe Design and Manufacture of the YF-16 Lightweight Fighter 730888

The YF-16 lightweight fighter prototype program contracted by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) in April 1972 established a dollar ceiling on the design, manufacture, and test of two prototype aircraft, and also established a flyaway cost goal for production aircraft should the USAF elect to procure the aircraft for its force structure. With cost as a factor coequal with performance, innovative design features were incorporated in the basic configuration during preliminary design to minimize the size, weight, and cost of the aircraft, yet meet the desired performance goals. Simplicity and elimination of unessential features were also given primary consideration.
The execution of the detail design, tooling, and manufacturing program was oriented toward low cost concepts and rigorous adherence to established budgets. Multiple use of parts and assemblies, use of low cost materials, and standardization of hardware items contributed to low tooling and manufacturing cost. Reduction in the cost of development and qualification tests was achieved by designing with additional margins of safety to avoid extensive testing and to permit flight demonstration up to design limits. A simplified direct program management approach was taken which incorporated unique features for program and cost control in consonance with the limited two-aircraft prototype program.


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