Tactical Air Command and Strategic Air Command Flying Hour Programs
NSIAD-86-192BR, Sep 30, 1986
In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Air Force's Tactical Air Command (TAC) and Strategic Air Command (SAC) flying hour programs, which establish training requirements to bring pilots and crews to a fully combat-ready status.
GAO found that: (1) experienced Air Force pilots establish TAC and SAC criteria for determining when a pilot or crew is fully combat ready and how many added flying hours they need to further enhance their proficiency; (2) the Air Force does not have a system for analyzing the data pilots use for their determinations; (3) pilots flew more than the required number of hours to be fully combat-ready but below the required number of hours to achieve full combat capability; (4) the Department of Defense believes that additional training is required to achieve full combat capability for all assigned missions to ensure enhanced performance and proficiency in specialized tasks and secondary missions; (5) TAC bases its annual flying hour program budget requests on aircraft utilization rates rather than on a compilation of flying hours needed to meet training requirements; and (6) SAC bases its flying hour program budget requests on standards that differ from operating units' use of flying hours. GAO believes that: (1) the Air Force should use objective data, rather than military judgments, to determine combat readiness and pilot proficiency and should submit the data to Congress for its oversight; (2) an Air Force system to analyze data on the number of hours pilots fly would be useful in evaluating the impact of changes in flying hours, equipment, and tactics on pilot proficiency; and (3) the Air Force should develop a system to assess the benefits a pilot receives from different levels of flying.