Exploring AFLCMC’s F-16 Program Office (PODCAST)

  • Published
  • By Joe Danielewicz, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Public Affairs
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFLCMC) - Is the F-16 a Falcon or a Viper? Did the plane’s “first” flight take place during a taxi run in January 1974 or at an intentional test the next month? While these lighthearted debates continue with F-16 fans and flyers, there’s little disagreement about the fighter’s fearsome abilities. And this year, there’s also unity around celebrating the F-16’s 50th anniversary.
In this “Leadership Log” podcast, we speak with Col. Amanda Okeson about the versatile plane and her work as Senior Material Leader with the F-16 program office, part of AFLCMC’s Fighters and Advanced Aircraft Directorate. Okeson also discusses how the F-16 has garnered an international following and offers perspective on the acquisition career field.
“Day in and day out”
Okeson says of the nearly thousand people who work in the program office, most are focused on “developing new technologies, fielding those technologies, and then supporting our warfighters once the aircraft are out in the field.”
While some of the work happens out of sight, it directly translates to warfighters’ effectiveness downrange. “They just know that [when] the weapon system arrives, that it's capable, it's ready to go. It has the parts and pieces it needs. Everyone here is working all those things behind the scenes to make sure it happens. Day in and day out.”
“They're in every theater, every geographic combatant command”
“All over the world, there's an F-16 in the air pretty much 24/7/365,” Okeson states, highlighting the plane’s prominence in the Air Force, along with over two dozen nations that rely on the fighter.
A well-established supply chain and institutional know-how means the F-16 can be modified to meet a multitude of missions, often tailored to each international partner’s needs.
“You know, you don't get one configuration. In fact, I joke that we have just under 3,000 aircraft and we have 6,000 configurations of F-16s. Everybody's got their own version,” Okeson explains in the discussion.
“What we do is cool”
While acquisition professionals may face challenges, Okeson believes it is important to remain aware that the work is ultimately about something bigger: “It is advancing technology, it's driving capability out to the field, and it's defending freedom and democracy,” she explains. “Remember what you do is cool, because if you forget that, then you get frustrated in the day-to-day activities.”

To hear the full conversation, watch above or on YouTube. You can also listen by searching “Leadership Log” on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Overcast, Radio Public or Breaker.