Naval Aviation:

F-14 Upgrades Are Not Adequately Justified

NSIAD-95-12: Published: Oct 19, 1994. Publicly Released: Oct 19, 1994.

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GAO reviewed the Navy's decision to spend about $2.5 billion between fiscal years 1994 and 2003 for a limited ground attack upgrade and other modifications to about 200 F-14 Tomcat fighters.

GAO found that: (1) although the Navy has justified F-14 attack upgrades as necessary to replace the loss of A-6E aircraft, most upgraded F-14 aircraft will be less capable than F/A-18C aircraft; (2) although upgraded F-14 aircraft have greater range than F/A-18C aircraft, this capability may not be needed, since the Navy's shift to a littoral warfare strategy will bring the Navy's targets within range of the F/A-18C and other weapons systems; (3) delivery of upgraded F-14 aircraft is not scheduled to begin until after the A-6E fleet is retired, even though the Navy stated that the aircraft are needed to fill a gap between A-6E retirement and the introduction of the F/A-18E/F aircraft; (4) for several years, the Navy will deploy carriers without A-6E or upgraded F-14 aircraft and will rely on its F/A-18C fleet for all attack missions; and (5) the Navy has not adequately justified its $2.5-billion plan to upgrade the F-14 fleet.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Armed Services conference committee was, "...persuaded that the Navy budget will not be able to afford the ultimate $1.6 billion cost of this program. Precision bombing capability would not be available for the F-14 much before the F/A-18E/F program achieves initial operating capability." "Therefore, the committee recommends...no new funds for F-14 research and development."

    Matter: Congress may wish to defer authorizing or appropriating additional monies for F-14 aircraft until the Navy can demonstrate that planned upgrades are essential when considering the: (1) current F/A-18C capabilities; (2) net weapon capability gain over current F-14A/B levels; (3) absence of a ground attack radar in 157 of the 210 aircraft; (4) lack of precision stand-off weapons capability in all 210 F-14 aircraft that limits the versatility and use of these aircraft in combat; (5) nearly simultaneous delivery of upgraded F-14 and F/A-18E/F aircraft; and (6) Navy's willingness to deploy carriers without A-6E or upgraded F-14 aircraft, as evidenced by the upcoming deployment of the USS Constellation.

 

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