Thursday, March 8, 2007

The TFX story page 1

THE TFX STORY- the F111a and f111b

The Request for Proposals begin

In the last few months of the Eisenhower administration the Air Force began to argue that it needed a successor for its F-105 tactical fighter. This became known as the TFX/F-111 project. However Robert McNamara (then Secretary of Defense) changed the TFX from an Air Force program to a joint Air force/Navy under-taking.

On October 21, 1961 the two services sent the aircraft industry the request for proposals for the TFX with instructions to submit the bids by 1st December 1961.

Six bids were received from Lockheed, North American, Boeing, Republic/Vought.\, General Dynamics/Grumman, and McDonnell/Douglas.

Thus began the larges most expensive airplane program in our history. Before the final award was made to General Dynamics/Grumman in November 1962 there were 3 additional rounds of proposal submittals.

This story is told from the point of view of the US Navy and Grumman. General Dynamics realizing it had no real experience with Navy fighter aircraft decided to team with Grumman for this bi-service effort. I was on the team sent by Grumman to Fort Worth to work with the General Dynamics team. Our main interest was to insure the final product would meet all of the Navy requirements without compromise imposed by the dominant Air Force mission.

Of the six original proposals Boeings design was clearly the best, although the General Dynamics /Grumman proposal was considered acceptable. The others were rejected for various reasons.

Without trying to describe the complex politics involved the decision was made by the evaluators to have Boeing and General Dynamics/Grumman both submit revised proposals addressing some unresolved question. That and two more proposals were submitted until the last proposal was received in September 1962.

The Basic Requirements-What made the TFX so difficult to develop

When McNamara combined the Air Force and Navy requirements in to one common vehicle it almost guaranteed a bad outcome. Boeing met these requirements by proposing two not really common designs, where as GD/Grumman maximized the commonality as much as possible.

First, let me explain the critical requirements for both .What designed the AF airplane was a mission for the aircraft to fly a long distance at altitude then descend to sea level and dash 200 miles to the target at a speed of mach1.2.

For the Navy the airplane was designed for carrier task force defense.

This meant it would have to cruise a several hundred mile distance from the fleet and then loiter at altitude to establish a defensive position to destroy any enemy aircraft before it could threaten the fleet.