F-22 Aircraft:

Development Cost Goal Achievable If Major Problems Are Avoided

NSIAD-00-68: Published: Mar 14, 2000. Publicly Released: Mar 14, 2000.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Air Force's engineering and manufacturing development program for the F-22 aircraft, focusing on: (1) the extent to which the F-22 development program is meeting its performance, schedule, and cost goals; (2) whether the Air Force is likely to complete the development program as planned without exceeding the cost limitation established by the act; and (3) whether GAO had access to sufficient information to make informed judgments on matters covered in this report.

GAO noted that: (1) in 1999, Air Force made progress in demonstrating the F-22's expected performance; (2) Air Force continues to estimate that by the end of the development program, the F-22 will meet or exceed its performance goals; (3) GAO has no evidence indicating the performance parameters will not be met; (4) however, the Air Force's performance estimates are based on limited flight test data, computer models, ground tests, and analyses and will not be confirmed until flight tests are completed; (5) while the development program made progress in achieving its schedule goals in 1999, some tests and scheduled activities established in 1997 were delayed because of continuing problems such as delays in delivery of flight test aircraft and in completion of testing of nonflying ground test aircraft; (6) despite these delays, the Air Force has not extended the August 2003 completion date of the development program and therefore may not be able to complete development flight tests before the development program is scheduled to end; (7) further, the schedule for completion of avionics development appears optimistic; (8) avionics is being developed in segments (blocks) with completion of each segment dependent on completion of prior segments; (9) although it postponed the completion dates of the first two avionics software segments from the 1997 schedule, the Air Force moved up the completion dates of subsequent segments; (10) in late 1998, the Air Force identified $667 million in potential cost increases that could cause the development program to exceed its cost limitation; (11) by December 1999, the Air Force had identified an additional $90 million because of higher than expected contractor costs, bringing the total potential cost increase to $757 million; (12) despite these potential cost increases, the F-22 development program could still be managed within its cost limitation because the Air Force and contractors have identified $860 million in potential costs offsets; (13) should further significant cost increases materialize, however, the development program may need to be scaled back, or other ways may need to be found to reduce the costs; (14) challenges remain in completing the development program within the congressional cost limitation and as scheduled; and (15) however, the Air Force has identified sufficient cost offsets to more than cover all identified potential cost increases and is aggressively managing the program.

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