Defense: Problem Bird

Though it was conceived as the world's most sophisticated combat aircraft, the F-lll has flunked many of its courses—mostly in political science. Last week Congress gave the swing-wing fighter-bomber its worst report card yet. A House-Senate Conference Committee recommended that the Navy model, the F-111B, not go into production until the plane shows beyond doubt that it can operate efficiently from aircraft carriers.

The committee's action on the F-lll —originally code-named the TFX—refleeted five years of congressional controversy. Almost from its inception the supersonic bi-service jet has been opposed by Arkansas' Democratic Senator John L. McClellan, who calls it...

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