Mission Effectiveness of the AV-8B Harrier II Could Be Improved if Actions Are Taken Now

MASAD-82-19: Published: Feb 26, 1982. Publicly Released: Feb 26, 1982.

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GAO reviewed the AV-8B Harrier II program to provide Congress with a status report on its development. The AV-8B Harrier II is a light attack aircraft with vertical and short-takeoff and landing capability being developed by the Navy to provide close air support for Marine Corps amphibian forces. The AV-8B is designed to be a substantially improved version of the AV-8A aircraft currently used by the Marine Corps.

GAO stated that potential maintenance personnel shortages, shipboard space constraints, limited repair capabilities, and inadequate ground-support equipment could adversely affect the ability of the AV-8B to perform its mission. The Navy currently plans to purchase AV-8A trainer aircraft to use in training AV-8B pilots. Such a move was proposed in order to cut costs. However, GAO found that, due to changes in production cost, discontinuation of AV-8A production, major aircraft differences, and the ineffectiveness of the AV-8A as a trainer for AV-8B pilots, a better choice may be to develop a training model of the AV-8B. GAO also found that opportunities exist to improve the aircraft's survivability. Major improvements could include reducing the planes vulnerability to enemy ordnance, adding fire or explosion suppression systems, and reducing the engine's infrared signature. GAO concluded by saying that these survivability improvements could be made, but at the expense of increased program cost and reduced aircraft performance.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Navy to develop adequate logistics support and support equipment to achieve the weapon system's operational mission and direct the Navy to plan for the quantity and skills of maintenance personnel needed to support the aircraft when it becomes operational.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Navy to develop adequate logistics support and support equipment to achieve the weapon system's operational mission and direct the Navy to plan for the quantity and skills of maintenance personnel needed to support the aircraft when it becomes operational.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to reevaluate its plan to purchase TAV-8As and consider developing a TAV-8B after examining the relative costs and benefits of the two trainer aircraft.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to reevaluate its plan to purchase TAV-8As and consider developing a TAV-8B after examining the relative costs and benefits of the two trainer aircraft.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to determine the costs of developing and procuring a trainer aircraft, the 25-mm gun system, and other aircraft changes and include these costs in the AV-8B program cost estimate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to determine the costs of developing and procuring a trainer aircraft, the 25-mm gun system, and other aircraft changes and include these costs in the AV-8B program cost estimate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information..

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to reevaluate the current AV-8B program to determine whether reduced annual procurement rates will adversely affect the Marine Corps' ability to meet its mission objectives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to reevaluate the current AV-8B program to determine whether reduced annual procurement rates will adversely affect the Marine Corps' ability to meet its mission objectives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: United States Marine Corps

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to reevaluate the current AV-8B program to determine whether reduced annual procurement rates will adversely affect the Marine Corps' ability to meet its mission objectives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to evaluate the cost effectiveness of increasing AV-8B combat survivability. If cost effective, design changes should be made before aircraft production, if possible.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to evaluate the cost effectiveness of increasing AV-8B combat survivability. If cost effective, design changes should be made before aircraft production, if possible.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

 

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