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United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

February 24, 2011: 

The Honorable Carl Levin:
The Honorable John McCain:
Ranking Member:
Committee on Armed Services:
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Howard P. McKeon:
The Honorable Adam Smith:
Ranking Member:
Committee on Armed Services:
House of Representatives: 

Subject: Tactical Aircraft: Air Force Fighter Reports Generally 
Addressed Congressional Mandates, but Reflected Dated Plans and 
Guidance, and Limited Analyses: 

The Air Force expects to invest over $230 billion to operate, 
maintain, modernize, and recapitalize its tactical air forces during 
fiscal years 2011 through 2015.[Footnote 1] This makes up nearly 70 
percent of the Department of Defense's (DOD) total expected tactical 
aircraft investment over that time. Despite this large investment, the 
Air Force continues to project that its inventory of fighter and 
attack aircraft will drop below required levels and that those 
shortfalls will persist through at least 2030. However, the timing and 
magnitude of projected shortfalls continue to fluctuate. In April 
2008, senior Air Force leaders testified before Congress that they 
expected the Air Force fighter shortfall to peak at about 800 aircraft 
in the mid-2020s. Since that time the Air Force has reduced its 
overall requirement and adjusted its assumptions about Joint Strike 
Fighter (JSF) procurement and the viability of legacy aircraft. As a 
result, the Air Force now expects its shortfall to peak at about 200 
aircraft. Still, this poses a challenge as the Air Force must 
effectively balance its investments between the JSF program and 
efforts to keep legacy aircraft viable for longer periods than 
originally planned.[Footnote 2] 

In 2009, Congress directed the Air Force to provide three reports 
addressing the service's fighter force structure plans in light of its 
projected fighter aircraft shortfall.[Footnote 3] One report was to 
detail the Air Force's rationale for retiring about 250 aircraft in 
light of the pending shortfall, while the other two reports were to 
address alternative investment options for mitigating the shortfall, 
including the interim procurement of new so-called "4.5 generation" 
fighter aircraft, and upgrades and service life extension programs for 
current legacy aircraft. Congress defined new 4.5 generation fighter 
aircraft as including F-15, F-16, and F-18 aircraft that have advanced 
radar, data-link, and avionics capabilities and the capability to 
deploy advanced armaments. The Air Force delivered the first report in 
January 2010 and the last two in April 2010.[Footnote 4] In general, 
the Air Force concluded that: 

* It could reduce its total fighter and attack aircraft inventory by 
about 250 aircraft and still effectively perform its missions with 
slightly increased risk; 

* Effective management of the JSF program coupled with investments in 
modernizing and upgrading legacy F-16 aircraft would mitigate the 
projected shortfall; 

* Procuring 4.5 generation aircraft to mitigate the projected 
shortfall would not support the Air Force's overall fleet 
modernization plans for an all-stealth future fighter force and 
therefore is not supported; 

* Extending the service life and upgrading current fighters would be 
10 to 15 percent of the cost of procuring new upgraded legacy aircraft 
and provide essentially the same capability; and: 

* The Air Force would still be able to perform its homeland defense 

The Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal 
Year 2011 directed GAO to evaluate the sufficiency, adequacy, and 
conclusions in the three Air Force reports.[Footnote 5] In response, 
this report assesses (1) whether the Air Force reports addressed the 
topics and issues required by Congress, (2) the currency and relevance 
of service plans and strategic level guidance that informed the Air 
Force's conclusions, and (3) the robustness of the data and analyses 
underpinning those conclusions. Therefore, we reviewed the Air Force 
reports for their sufficiency with the reporting requirements 
established in the respective congressional mandates. To assess the 
analyses, data, and assumptions underpinning the conclusions we 
conducted detailed interviews with DOD and Air Force officials that 
were responsible for performing the analyses, and the officials 
responsible for writing the reports. During those interviews we 
discussed the dates and sources of key data and assumptions 
underpinning the Air Force's analyses, and reviewed the analytical 
tools and methods used to conduct those analyses. We also examined the 
Air Force's ongoing efforts to address structural deficiencies in 
legacy F-16s through the Falcon Structural Augmentation Roadmap 
(Falcon STAR)[Footnote 6] program, and drew extensively on our July 
2010 report examining DOD's tactical aircraft requirements, force 
structure, and investment plans.[Footnote 7] 

We conducted this performance audit from August 2010 to March 2011 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit and obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe 
that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 


While the three Air Force fighter reports generally covered the topics 
and issues identified by Congress, the conclusions reflected 
previously established service plans and strategic level guidance that 
was dated by the time the reports were issued. In addition, the 
robustness of the analyses done to support the conclusions in the 
reports was limited by JSF program instability and the absence of F-16 
durability and fleet viability data. The reports presented limited new 
analyses and primarily summarized the Air Force's long-standing plan 
to transition to an all-stealth 5th generation fighter force and the 
desire therefore to avoid large investments in legacy, non-stealth 
fighters that could divert funds from this plan. Analyses underpinning 
shortfall projections and future force requirements were based on 
strategic level guidance, threat scenarios, and force planning 
constructs that had changed by the time the three reports were issued. 
The Air Force's conclusions were also dependent on assumptions about 
JSF program performance and the feasibility of extending the life of 
legacy F-16s beyond 8,000 hours, but key data were either in flux or 
were not available when the reports were prepared. Since then, JSF 
costs significantly increased and its schedule slipped; important data 
regarding the feasibility and cost of extending the F-16's service 
life are still not available. Air Force officials acknowledge that 
many things have changed since their analyses were completed, but note 
that they used the best data available to them at the time and, based 
on more recent analyses, they are confident that 5th generation 
aircraft will continue to be essential to the Air Force's future 
success. As a result, they do not expect there to be any major changes 
to Air Force fighter recapitalization plans and thus believe that the 
basic conclusions in the three force structure reports remain valid. 
However, better information on the JSF restructured program and on the 
F-16 fleet is expected to become available in 2011; this could enable 
a more informed analysis, comparing and contrasting the various 
alternatives for mitigating the projected aircraft shortfalls. 

Air Force Reports Generally Addressed the Topics and Issues Required 
by Congress: 

Our comparison of the contents of the three reports with the related 
direction provided in the relevant statute and House reports found 
that the three Air Force reports generally addressed the established 
congressional reporting requirements, including the specific issues 
and topics identified by Congress. For example, in the report 
specifically examining the potential procurement of new upgraded 
legacy fighters--namely Procurement of 4.5 Generation Fighter 
Aircraft--the Air Force discussed its analysis of both multiyear and 
single-year procurement costs for various quantities of new upgraded 
aircraft, as directed by Congress in the 2010 National Defense 
Authorization Act. The Air Force's report on the projected fighter 
force structure shortfall discusses various strengths and weaknesses 
related to specific options that Congress had identified for 
addressing the shortfall, including procurement of new upgraded legacy 
aircraft and service life extension of current legacy aircraft. 
Likewise, the report on the Air Force's combat air force restructuring 
proposal included information about the various topics Congress had 
identified, including an explanation of the current threat environment 
and current capabilities as well as the criteria used for selecting 
the affected bases and the particular fighters that were chosen for 
retirement. The report also explained that the Air Force's proposal to 
accelerate the retirement of about 250 aircraft was primarily in 
response to guidance from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) 
that directed the services to eliminate excess force structure 
capability and increase risk, if necessary, to free up funding for 
other priorities. 

Air Force Reports Reflected Previously Established Service Plans and 
Dated Strategic Level Guidance: 

For many years, defense threat assessments and capability analyses 
have led the Air Force to believe that 5th generation capabilities, 
including stealth characteristics, fused sensor data, and advanced 
radars, will be essential to counter the increasingly sophisticated 
air defense systems of potential future adversaries. Therefore, the 
Air Force's recapitalization plans have focused almost all funding and 
priority on replacing legacy fighter aircraft with 5th generation F- 
22As and JSFs. In December 2005, OSD added $1 billion to the F-22A 
program to extend production for 2 years to ensure a 5th generation 
fighter aircraft production line would remain in operation in case the 
JSF experienced delays or problems. However, OSD later chose to end 
procurement of the F-22A in 2010, leaving the Air Force to rely 
exclusively on the JSF to complete its recapitalization plans. 

The Air Force's overarching force management approach requires that 
all of the aircraft in the service's inventory, including Air National 
Guard and Air Force Reserve aircraft, be capable of integrating with 
each other. Air Force officials note that this force management 
concept does not support having "niche" legacy forces that are 
dedicated to specific missions that do not require stealth capability, 
such as homeland defense, and are incapable of participating in more 
difficult anti-access scenarios. Therefore, the Air Force believes 
that all future fighter and attack aircraft have to be capable of 
operating in both anti-access and uncontested airspace. 

The Air Force acknowledges that various alternatives, such as 
purchasing new upgraded legacy aircraft or modernizing existing 
aircraft, could mitigate some of the projected force structure 
shortfall. However, the reports emphasize that none of the 
alternatives, apart from those related to the JSF, would provide the 
5th generation capabilities that the Air Force believes are needed. 
Officials noted that the Air Force views alternatives that would 
reduce JSF funding or quantities as unacceptable, particularly in 
light of the expectation that future defense budgets will be limited. 
Service officials note that the Air Force had already determined that 
it did not need any new legacy aircraft before the congressional 
mandates were issued. They emphasized that buying new upgraded legacy 
aircraft was determined to be undesirable because the Air Force 
believed that the upfront acquisition cost would negatively impact JSF 
procurement funding, current legacy aircraft could be upgraded to 
provide essentially the same capabilities at lower estimated cost, and 
new upgraded legacy aircraft would not be supportable or effective 
over the long term. 

The analyses supporting the Air Force's conclusions reflected 
strategic level threat scenarios and force planning constructs that 
were dated by the time the reports were issued. According to Air Force 
officials, the service recognized that it was facing a force structure 
shortfall and began to assess options for addressing it well before 
the congressional reporting mandates were issued in 2009. The Air 
Force viewed the reports as a historical look at the analyses that had 
already been completed to develop its aircraft recapitalization plans 
and support its fiscal year 2010 budget request. Most of the 
underlying analyses were conducted in 2007 and 2008 and thus reflected 
the assumptions and force planning construct in place at that time. 
That construct largely focused on fighting and winning two nearly 
simultaneous major combat operations against adversaries possessing 
high-end, anti-access air defense capabilities. Figure 1 provides a 
time line comparing the dates of strategic level force planning 
documents, including the National Security Strategy and the 
Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), with the timing of the Air Force's 
2010 budget analysis and the issuance of the three fighter force 
structure reports. As indicated by the gray bar in the figure, the 
majority of the Air Force's analysis was conducted before the 2010 
National Security Strategy and the 2010 QDR were finalized. 

Figure 1: Time Line of Force Planning Guidance and Air Force Analysis: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustrated time line] 

February 2006: 
Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). 

March 2006: 
National Security Strategy. 

Approximate Period of Air Force Analysis: 
Late 2007 through mid-2009. 

April 2008: 
Guidance for Development of the Force (GDF). 

June 2008: 
National Security Strategy. 

July 2009: 
GDF Update. 

Air Force reports issued: 
Early 2010. 

February 2010: 

May 2010: 
National Security Strategy. 

Source: DOD data; GAO analysis and presentation. 

[End of figure] 

The Air Force made its force structure and budget decisions using 
computer models to identify the "best force"--one that would meet 
operational requirements within expected budget constraints.[Footnote 
8] The primary model is intended to optimize investments across the 
Air Force portfolio while addressing OSD's strategic guidance and war 
fighting scenarios. At the time the Air Force analyses were performed, 
the guidance and scenarios called for the military services to fight 
and win two nearly simultaneous major combat operations against 
adversaries possessing advanced, high-end capabilities. Air Force 
officials note that they intentionally excluded certain types of 
systems when they ran their computer models to formulate their 2010 
budget. They emphasized that in some cases this had to be done because 
those systems had been identified as high-priority items, but they 
would not be recognized by the computer models as having adequate 
capabilities to address the high-end threat scenarios. Unmanned 
aircraft were among those systems. In the end, the Air Force 
reaffirmed its plans to acquire all 5th generation fighter aircraft. 

Since the Air Force's analyses were completed, DOD's view of future 
national security challenges has changed, which could impact tactical 
fighter requirements and the mix of capabilities needed. Although 
affirming the force planning constructs for the near term, the 2010 
QDR signaled a change in force planning by noting that "U.S. forces 
today and in the years to come can be plausibly challenged by a range 
of threats that extend far beyond the familiar 'major regional 
conflicts' that have dominated U.S. planning since the end of the Cold 
War." The QDR conveys DOD's assessment of the force structure and 
capabilities needed to meet many types of demands by presenting three 
scenario combinations that reflect both current and projected security 
environments. According to DOD officials, this provides a more 
realistic picture of the future, but makes quantifying long-term 
requirements difficult. In addition to evolving security requirements, 
DOD's emerging plans for acquiring long range strike capabilities 
could also impact future fighter requirements. 

The Air Force is still in the process of updating its analyses and 
tactical aircraft requirements to address the new QDR guidance and 
assumptions. Air Force officials agree that much has changed since the 
reports were prepared but are confident that the changes will not 
obviate the need for 5th generation aircraft. In fact, they believe 
that 5th generation aircraft might actually be needed sooner than 
previously projected. However, while the F-22A and the JSF possess 5th 
generation characteristics, the use of these assets may be limited by 
the other factors during the early stages of a conflict, particularly 
if access to foreign air bases is restricted, flights over neutral 
countries are restricted, and the Navy's carrier-based forces are 
pushed further from the enemy's shore for protection. 

Data and Analyses Supporting the Air Force Reports Were Limited: 

The Air Force's data and assumptions relating to the JSF program did 
not fully reflect the restructured program. Instead, the analyses 
supporting the three fighter reports incorporated cost and schedule 
estimates for the JSF that supported the fiscal year 2010 budget. 
Since the analyses were conducted, worsening JSF program outcomes have 
resulted in a major restructuring announced in February 2010 and, in 
June 2010, the department officially certified the JSF program after a 
critical breach of unit cost baselines. JSF restructuring decisions 
and actions are not yet complete. Most recently the Secretary of 
Defense directed a reduction in near-term JSF procurement quantities 
which slows down the pace of aircraft deliveries. A fully updated JSF 
baseline is expected to be finalized in 2011. Once the new baseline is 
available the Air Force will then have the critical data it needs to 
make better-informed aircraft investment decisions. 

Continuing JSF program setbacks in costs, deliveries, and performance 
directly affect the Air Force's overall modernization plans, legacy 
fighter fleet management and retirement schedules, and the relative 
attractiveness of alternative options to mitigate shortfalls. Without 
a valid updated JSF program baseline, the Air Force's ability to 
accurately plan for and invest in its fighter fleet is limited, in 
large part because there is little assurance that the JSF will deliver 
sufficient quantities of capable aircraft to mitigate the fighter gap 
and support a moderate risk fighter force structure. At the time the 
reports were issued, Air Force plans assumed that JSF procurement will 
peak at 80 aircraft per year. The reports note that achieving this 
peak JSF production rate is necessary for mitigating the Air Force's 
projected shortfall. 

In addition, key F-16 data were not available to inform the Air Force 
analyses. The Air Force concluded that small investments in older F- 
16s, and extending the service lives and enhancing the capability of 
approximately 300 newer F-16s would help mitigate the projected 
shortfall through 2030. Air Force officials noted that the proposed 
service life extension would allow its newer F-16s to remain in 
service for 2,000 additional hours beyond their expected service life 
of 8,000 hours. The Air Force's conclusions were not supported by a 
detailed cost-benefit analysis but instead reflected rough order of 
magnitude estimates that were done before key data about the 
feasibility and cost of the proposed efforts were available. The Air 
Force's Falcon STAR program that focused on addressing various 
structural deficiencies in legacy F-16 aircraft to allow those 
aircraft to achieve 8,000 flight hours was still ongoing at the time 
of the Air Force's analysis. The Falcon STAR program began in fiscal 
year 2003 and is projected to be complete in fiscal year 2014. Other 
critical data, including the results of the Air Force Fleet Viability 
Board assessment of the F-16, robust engineering data related to wing 
cracks and other structural problems on legacy F-16s, and the results 
of the F-16 full-scale durability test, were also not available to 
support a comprehensive cost estimate. Information received after the 
Air Force reports were issued, indicating that the wings on older F-
16s are in better condition than originally anticipated, has led 
service officials to change their assumptions, and they now believe 
that the near-term shortfall that had been projected to begin as soon 
as 2012 has been mitigated. 

Air Force Fleet Viability Board assessments of both older and newer F- 
16s were not yet available at the time the Air Force did its analyses. 
The Fleet Viability Board provides an integrated analysis of a fleet's 
technical fitness, associated aircraft availability, and cost of 
continued ownership for specific aircraft. This analysis provides Air 
Force senior leadership with information on a range of topics relevant 
to the continued viability of a specific aircraft fleet, including 
potential costs, benefits and risks of the best options. The 
assessments cover various time frames, expected supportability and 
sustainability issues, and the relative utility of offensive and 
defensive aircraft systems and avionics. They are a valuable source of 
planning and investment information. 

The Air Force's assumptions about the need to invest in its older F-
16s have now changed. At the time the reports were issued, Air Force 
data projections indicated that many of the older F-16 aircraft were 
going to encounter wing cracks and other structural problems that 
would require them to be retired early if no corrective action was 
taken. As a result, the Air Force anticipated that the fighter 
shortfall would begin in the near term unless the problems were 
addressed. However, as more data have become available through 
examining legacy aircraft wings during routine maintenance actions, 
Air Force officials have revised their projections and now believe 
that the wing cracking problem is not as severe as originally 
projected. As a result, they believe that the near-term fighter 
shortfall has been mitigated without an additional investment. The new 
wing crack data, however, have not yet been officially validated by 
the Fleet Viability Board. The Viability Board's final assessment of 
the older F-16 fleet is expected to be released to Air Force senior 
leadership in February 2011. 

The Air Force conclusion that the service lives of the newer F-16 
aircraft could be extended by 4 to 5 years, and that their 
capabilities could be upgraded to help mitigate the projected fighter 
shortfall, was not informed by a Fleet Viability Board assessment or 
key durability test results. The Viability Board's assessment of the 
newer F-16 fleet is expected to be delivered to Air Force senior 
leadership around June 2011. The full-scale durability test for the 
newer F-16s is expected to begin sometime in 2011. According to 
service officials the test will take approximately 3 years from setup 
to reporting, although data will be reported throughout the duration 
of the test. The final results of these two assessments are needed in 
order to gain a definitive understanding of the full cost and 
technical feasibility of extending the service life and enhancing the 
capabilities of newer F-16 aircraft. The Air Force has not yet 
determined the exact number of newer F-16s that it will modernize and 
upgrade, but service officials emphasize that the near-term shortfall 
has been mitigated by the better than anticipated condition of the 
older F-16s, so the final number will not have to be determined until 
they begin developing the fiscal year 2016 budget. 

Although F-16 fleet viability analyses and durability testing were not 
yet complete, the Air Force relied on program office and contractor 
estimates, along with preliminary warfighting analysis, to conclude 
that extending the service life and upgrading current F-16 aircraft 
was a better option than procuring new upgraded aircraft. In large 
part, this conclusion was based on Air Force calculations that 
estimated that modernizing and upgrading current F-16s would cost 
about $9 million per aircraft and could provide essentially the same 
capabilities as procuring new upgraded aircraft, but at about 10 to 15 
percent the cost. According to service officials, this option would 
minimize the impact on JSF program funding. The Air Force estimated 
that the cost of buying new upgraded aircraft could range from roughly 
$55 million (F-16) to roughly $90 million (F-15) per aircraft. 
However, the Air Force noted that these estimated unit costs were at a 
rough order of magnitude and could be 20 percent above or 20 percent 
below the actual costs. 

The Air Force's analysis did not reflect the differences in the amount 
of aircraft service life that each alternative offered. For example, 
the Air Force estimates that modernizing and upgrading operational F- 
16s will increase the service life of each aircraft by 2,000 flight 
hours, while a new aircraft would provide at least 8,000 flight hours. 
Using the Air Force's $9 million per aircraft estimate, we calculate 
the cost to modernize and upgrade newer F-16s would be about $4,500 
per additional flight hour, while procuring new F-16s would cost 
$6,875 per additional flight hour. Viewed from this perspective the 
percentage difference between the two options would be smaller. 
[Footnote 9] We also note that F-15 and F-16 aircraft are currently in 
production for foreign militaries, while key analyses and durability 
testing for the F-16 service-life extension have not yet been 
completed by the Air Force. Although procuring new F-15 or F-16 
aircraft would likely require some research and development 
investment, the procurement costs, schedule and risks of acquiring 
them may be more reliably predicted at this time than extending 
service lives of operational F-16s. However, as previously mentioned, 
Air Force officials have concluded that procuring new upgraded legacy 
aircraft is undesirable largely because they would not provide 5th 
generation capability, the upfront acquisition cost would likely 
divert funding from JSF procurement, and the Air Force does not 
believe that new upgraded legacy aircraft would be supportable or 
effective over the long term. 

Agency Comments: 

DOD reviewed a draft of this report, but had no formal written 
comments. DOD did, however, provide technical comments, which we 
incorporated as appropriate. 

We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Defense; 
Secretary of the Air Force; and Director of the Office of Management 
and Budget. The report is also available at no charge on the GAO Web 
site at [hyperlink,]. 

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please 
contact me at (202) 512-4841 or Contact points for 
our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found 
on the last page of this report. Staff members making key 
contributions to this report were Bruce Fairbairn, Assistant Director; 
Travis Masters; Sean Seales; Marie Ahearn; Jean McSween; and Carol 

Signed by: 

Michael J. Sullivan, Director:
Acquisition and Sourcing Management: 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

Tactical Aircraft: DOD's Ability to Meet Future Requirements is 
Uncertain, with Key Analyses Needed to Inform Upcoming Investment 
Decisions. [hyperlink,]. 
Washington, D.C.: July 29, 2010. 

Quadrennial Defense Review: 2010 Report Addressed Many but Not All 
Required Items. [hyperlink,]. 
Washington, D.C.: April 30, 2010. 

Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs. 
[hyperlink,]. Washington, 
D.C.: March 30, 2010. 

Joint Strike Fighter: Additional Costs and Delays Risk Not Meeting 
Warfighter Requirements on Time. [hyperlink,]. Washington, D.C.: March 19, 

Joint Strike Fighter: Significant Challenges Remain as DOD 
Restructures Program. [hyperlink,]. Washington, D.C.: March 11, 

Joint Strike Fighter: Strong Risk Management Essential as Program 
Enters Most Challenging Phase. [hyperlink,]. Washington, D.C.: May 20, 

Joint Strike Fighter: Accelerating Procurement before Completing 
Development Increases the Government's Financial Risk. [hyperlink,]. Washington D.C.: March 12, 

Homeland Defense: Actions Needed to Improve Management of Air 
Sovereignty Alert Operations to Protect U.S. Airspace. [hyperlink,]. Washington, D.C.: Jan. 27, 

Defense Acquisitions: Better Weapon Program Outcomes Require 
Discipline, Accountability, and Fundamental Changes in the Acquisition 
Environment. [hyperlink,]. 
Washington, D.C.: June 3, 2008. 

Joint Strike Fighter: Recent Decisions by DOD Add to Program Risks. 
[hyperlink,]. Washington, D.C.: 
March 11, 2008. 

Tactical Aircraft: DOD Needs a Joint and Integrated Investment 
Strategy. [hyperlink,]. 
Washington, D.C.: April 2, 2007. 

Tactical Aircraft: Recapitalization Goals Are Not Supported by 
Knowledge-Based F-22A and JSF Business Cases. [hyperlink,]. Washington, D.C.: March 16, 

[End of section] 


[1] The Air Force's tactical aircraft investment cited here reflects 
projected funding for research, development, test and evaluation, 
procurement, operations and maintenance, military construction, and 
military personnel specifically tied to tactical aircraft in DOD's 
2011 Future Years Defense Program. Tactical aircraft are fixed-wing 
fighters and ground attack/strike aircraft. 

[2] The Air Force's legacy fighter and attack fleet is made up of F- 
16s, F-15s, and A-10s, many of which were purchased in the 1970s and 

[3] The Air Force reporting requirements were contained in the 
following: (1) H.R. Rep. No. 111-166, at 101 (2009); (2) the National 
Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-
84 (NDAA for Fiscal Year 2010) § 131 (2009); and (3) H.R. Conf. Rep. 
No. 111-288, at 290-291 and 814 (2009), which is the same requirement 
contained in NDAA for Fiscal Year 2010 §1075. 

[4] Combat Air Forces Restructuring (Jan. 2010), Fighter Force 
Structure Shortfalls (April 2010), and Procurement of "4.5 Generation 
Fighter" Aircraft (April 2010). The reports are classified. 

[5] Pub. L. No. 111-383 § 1053. 

[6] Falcon STAR (Structural Augmentation Roadmap) is an F-16 upgrade 
program that was initiated in 2003 to replace or rework various 
aircraft structural components to preclude the onset of widespread 
fatigue damage, maintain safety of flight, enhance aircraft 
availability, and allow the F-16s to achieve their full 8,000 flight 
hour service lives. 

[7] GAO, Tactical Aircraft: DOD's Ability to Meet Future Requirements 
Is Uncertain, with Key Analyses Needed to Inform Upcoming Investment 
Decisions, [hyperlink,] 
(Washington, D.C.: July 29, 2010). 

[8] The Air Force's primary model is known as the Combat Forces 
Assessment Model (CFAM), and is used to identify the optimal mix of 
fighters, bombers, tankers, and other assets for addressing the 
established scenarios within projected resource constraints. CFAM can 
also be run to simply identify the overall optimal force mix if 
resources were not constrained. 

[9] The cost per flight hour figures only reflect the Air Force's 
estimated acquisition costs. Operation, support, and disposal costs 
were unavailable and are not included. Our analysis was done using 
data from the Air Force's estimate of acquisition costs and 
assumptions regarding flight hours. The analysis is only intended to 
illustrate perspectives that could have been highlighted if different 
analyses had been done, and does not represent a rigorous, 
comprehensive cost estimate by GAO. 

[End of section] 

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