Navy's F/A-18 Expected To Be an Effective Performer but Problems Still Face the Program

MASAD-82-20: Published: Feb 26, 1982. Publicly Released: Feb 26, 1982.

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The F/A-18 naval strike fighter development is near completion and GAO provided Congress with a status report.

Development flight testing shows that the F/A-18 will meet most of the design performance goals, and it is expected to effectively perform its fighter and light attack missions. Several logistics support issues gained importance during the F/A-18 program's transition from development to production and deployment. These issues include delay in developing pilot trainers, including their lack of essential equipment for operational units, and inadequate spares support. F/A-18 cost increases continue as a major program issue. GAO anticipates additional program cost growth resulting from underestimated escalation and prime and subcontractor cost increases. While the Navy projected major cost reductions in several areas, significant hard savings have not yet been realized.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Development of the operation flight trainer has been completed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to incorporate both air-to-ground and electronic counter-countermeasures capability into the operation flight trainer as part of its current development.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Aircraft hardware is now being produced in sufficient numbers for both production and trainer development.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to allocate aircraft hardware between production and trainer development and ensure transfer of flight control system data to permit timely trainer development.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to implement competitive procurement of test program sets for an estimated savings of $70 million and explore other situations where competition could be used.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The agency did not concur with the recommendation. GAO believes, however, that it is valid.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to delete, to the extent possible, mission-essential equipment from training aircraft, thereby saving substantial procurement, as well as maintenance cost.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to determine the value to be derived from the Board of Inspection and Survey Trials. Unnecessary redundancy between the trials and testing already accomplished should be eliminated.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Development of the aircraft has been completed, and it is in full production.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to accelerate implementation of the Navy proposed cost reduction initiatives estimated to save $1.2 to $4.6 billion.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Automatic test equipment has been developed. This equipment has been provided to operational groups and is being used to test aircraft components.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to preclude future reductions in F/A-18 operational readiness due to delayed automatic test equipment. The Navy should (1) evaluate the cost of additional spares to offset the lack of test capability; (2) select the most cost-effective alternative; and (3) budget to adequately support the selected course of action.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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