Pierre Sprey consulted for Grumman Aircraft's research department from 1958 to 1965, then joined Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's "Whiz Kids" in the Pentagon. There, in 1967, he met the Air Force's brilliant and original tactician, Col. John Boyd and quickly became a disciple and collaborator of Boyd's. Together with another innovative fighter pilot, Col. Everest Riccioni (U.S. Air Force), they started and carried out the concept design of the F-16 air-to-air fighter, then brought the program to fruition through five years of continuous bureaucratic guerilla warfare. More or less simultaneously, Sprey also headed up the technical side of the Air Force's concept design team for the A-10 close support fighter. Then, against even steeper opposition than the F-16 faced, he helped implement the A-10's innovative live-fire, prototype fly-off competition and subsequent production. Sprey left the Pentagon in 1971 but continued to consult actively on the F-16, the A-10, tanks and anti-tank weapons, and realistic operational/live-fire testing of major weapons. At the same time, he became a principal in two consulting firms; the first doing environmental research and analysis, the second consulting on international defense planning and weapons analysis. During this period, Sprey continued the seminal work of Col. Richard Hallock (U.S. Army/Airborne) in founding the field of combat history/combat data-based cost effectiveness analysis for air and ground weapons. During the late 1970s, Colonel Boyd and Sprey, together with a small, dedicated group of Pentagon and congressional insiders, started the military reform movement. Attracting considerable attention from young officers, journalists and congressmen, the movement led to establishment of the Congressional Military Reform Caucus and to passage of several military reform bills in the early ’80s. Sprey continues to work with reform-minded foundations and journalists. Numerous articles, books and theses have described the work of Colonel Boyd and Sprey on the F-16, A-10 and military reform. These include Robert Coram's “Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War” (Little, Brown & Co., 2002) and James Fallows' “National Defense” (Random House, 1981).
The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship program provides a step-by-step case study in acquisition failures and the costs and risks of unacceptable levels of concurrency. Moreover, it shows how Congress repeatedly failed to intervene despite warnings from independent analysists and watchdogs that this program was grossly off track.
POGO's Danielle Brian and Winslow Wheeler joined Pierre Sprey, the co-designer of the F-16 and A-10, in writing a letter to the editor of the New York Times concerning a recent editorial about the troubles with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.