After the F-16 had won the ACF competition, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) pushed hard for the Navy to procure the F-16 as well, presumably for economies of scale along with the benefits a common aircraft would have to both maintenance and training. Congress had already, in August 1974, directed the Navy to look to the LWF/ACF program’s competitors for its new Navy Air Combat Fighter (NACF) program, which had superseded the Navy’s own VFAX program, begun several months before, in April 1974, to replace the F-4, A-4, and A-7 aircraft on carrier decks. The Navy really wanted more F-14s, or at least something big enough to carry Phoenix missiles, but was now being forced to go with a lightweight fighter choice. Both General Dynamics and Northrop put forward proposals for navalized versions of their fighters, GD teaming up with Ling Temco Vought (LTV) and Northrop with McDonnell Douglas.
We wrote yesterday about SecNav Mabus, and his desire, among other things, to give the individual service chiefs greater autonomy in buying weapons for their service.
This article highlights some of the possible compromises that face the services when trying to force one platform to serve two different roles.
Also, the picture is pretty neat.