Pierre Sprey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Pierre Sprey
Born Pierre Sprey
1938 (age 75–76)[1]
Nice, France[1]
Nationality French/American
Occupation aircraft designer, defense analyst, record producer

Pierre Sprey is an aircraft designer, defense analyst, and record producer. Working with John Boyd and Thomas P. Christie, analyst Tom Christie and test pilot Col. Everest Riccioni as well as aeronautical engineer Harry Hillaker, they formed the core of the self-dubbed "Fighter Mafia", advocating the use of Energy-Maneuverability (E-M) theory in fighter design.

His approach was to build an "honest plane"—one focused on the end product. "The whole essence of this is to judge everything by outcomes." [1]

This group worked behind the scenes in the late 1960s to pursue a lightweight fighter as an alternative to the F-15. The group strongly believed that an ideal fighter should not include any of the sophisticated radar and missile systems or rudimentary ground-attack capability that found their way into the F-15. Their goal, based on E-M theory, was a small, low-drag, low-weight, pure fighter with no bomb racks. This led to the highly successful F-16 that Sprey greatly influenced. He also wrote the initial requirements for the A-X program that became the A-10 and optimized its safety features. The "Warthog" appears ungainly, but is "enormously difficult to shoot down", and "devastating against tanks and other armored vehicles."[1]

He is a critic of the F-35. He asserts that despite its 200 million dollar price tag per plane, it is less agile than the F-16, and flies at altitudes and speeds too high and fast to replace the A-10. Compared to the F-16 or A-10 (in both of whose operational roles it operates) he characterized the F-35 as overweight and dangerous, stating “It’s as if Detroit suddenly put out a car with lighter fluid in the radiator and gasoline in the hydraulic brake lines: That’s how unsafe this plane is…" and "full of bugs".[2] He asserts the plane is too heavy (nearly 30,000 pounds heavier than a fully loaded F-16). Most of all, the plane's wings are too small to give the fighter maneuverability in combat.

He now records music on his own label "Mapleshade" and sells high-end stereo equipment. His recording with the ARC Choir singing "Walk With Me" appears in Kanye West's hit "Jesus Walks." Sprey said he earned enough royalties from the West song "to support 30 of my money-losing jazz albums." [1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ricks, Thomas E (May 16, 2006), Whatever happened to… Pierre Sprey?, The Washington Post (article) .
  2. ^ Cockburn, Andrew (June 6, 2013), Flight of the Discords: The military–industrial–congressional complex bullies the F-35 Lightning II into Burlington, Heart of empire (World Wide Web log) (Harper’s) .