Air Defense:

Comparison of Upgraded F-4D and F-16A Aircraft

NSIAD-87-163: Published: Jun 15, 1987. Publicly Released: Jul 1, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Air Force plans to transfer 270 F-16A fighter aircraft from the Tactical Air Force to the Strategic Air Defense (SAD) force to determine: (1) the Air Force's plans and progress on the F-4D demonstration project; (2) the capability of modified F-4D and F-16A aircraft to meet mission requirements; and (3) the cost of the modified F-4D and F-16A alternatives.

GAO found that: (1) the Air Force does not plan to conduct the F-4D demonstration project and has requested reprogramming of the funds; (2) the Air Force concluded that it should retire the F-4D, which has reached the end of its useful life; (3) Air Force Logistics Command and National Guard officials believe that a modified F-4D would have capabilities superior to the F-16A in performing air defense missions; and (4) F-16A modifications and operation and support costs would be less than the F-4D, but would not offset the higher cost of replacing the F-16A.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force does not concur with this recommendation and plans no further action.

    Recommendation: Because of the unresolved questions regarding the cost- and operational effectiveness of using the modified F-16A and F-4D in the SAD mission and the potential savings involved, the Secretary of the Air Force should conduct a cost- and operational effectiveness analysis comparing the modified F-4D and F-16A aircraft for the air defense mission. The analysis should: (1) include a demonstration comparing the modified aircraft's capabilities against requirements needed to counter the SAD threat; (2) consider other potential missions and uses for the F-16A that would be available under the modified F-4D air defense alternative; and (3) consider that the F-4D would likely require replacement in the SAD mission sooner than the modified F-16A.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force does not concur with this recommendation and plans no further action.

    Recommendation: Since the Air Force is accelerating the retirement of the F-4D, the Secretary of the Air Force should identify the approximately 180 most suitable F-4D aircraft for upgrading and ensure they are not retired prior to the conclusion of the demonstration analysis.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

 

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