The Myth of the Export Fighter

While that concept succumbed to the Budget Control Act of 2011, the idea that the United States could provide an exportable aircraft that it did not use persisted, and worked itself into the OA-X program. But this idea springs from a fundamental premise that has never been correct for foreign air forces — that if the United States offers a product it does not operate, those air forces will come running to buy it. This has never been the case and there is no evidence that this assumption would play out today. Some might counter with the F-5 example, but the only reason that the F-5 export fighter was so wildly successful is that the United States did not market it for sale so much as give it away to offset Soviet influence. The marketable export-only fighter is a unicorn: a creature that never existed and cannot be created without significant U.S. investment in time and money.

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