Designed to be a multi-service tactical strike fighter, the F-111 developed into one of the most controversial aircraft ever constructed. Its problems started with the McNamara decree that the plane be designed for use by both the Air Force and Navy. Due to weight limitations that the F-111 could never acheive, the Navy version of the F-111, after seven years of expensive development was scrapped, but the technology became part of the rapidly developed Grumman F-14 tomcat!
Once divorced from its dual service role, the Aardvark or TFX as it was called during its developmental days, became a truly fine and useful piece of hardware, but its teething problems were long and severe. More hours were spent on wind- tunnel testing, 20,000, than any other modern aircraft, but when finally accepted for operational duty, it was quickly learned that the aircraft had met or exceeded every requirement originally set forth by the Air Force.
The F-111A first saw action in Viet Nam in 1968 when its terrain-following radar was put to use. Again, teething problems and cracks in the wing box led to grounding of the aircraft, but within a year, the fixes had been made and the 250 F-111`s were again put on active duty. Armed with conventional or nuclear weapons, the F-111A became known as a pilot`s airplane, fiercely defended by its crews as one of the best planes flying.