The Century Series Fighters

A Study in Research and Development

by Leland Johnson


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An examination of the development histories of seven aircraft (F-100, F-101, F-102, F-104, F-105, F-106, F-107) as part of a study seeking methods by which the Air Force might increase the effectiveness of its research and development programs. Two striking features of aircraft development emerge from these Century Series histories. First, there are great uncertainties inherent in developments that advance the state of the art. Second, the Century Series analysis shows that developed aircraft components, such as engines, armament, and fire-control systems, can often be used successfully in aircraft for which are are not originally planned. These features indicate a need to modify Air Force development policies by adopting parallel development strategies in the early stages of a program to combat uncertainty and by encouraging the development of subsystems not tied to specific weapon systems.

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