Aircraft Requirements:

Air Force and Navy Need to Establish Realistic Criteria for Backup Aircraft

NSIAD-95-180: Published: Sep 29, 1995. Publicly Released: Sep 29, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the trend in the number of backup aircraft maintained by the Air Force and Navy, focusing on the: (1) actions that the Department of Defense (DOD) and the services have taken in response to prior recommendations to validate backup aircraft requirements; and (2) opportunities to remove unneeded backup aircraft from the force to minimize the cost of operating and maintaining combat-designated aircraft.

GAO found that: (1) the Air Force and Navy/Marine Corps operate and maintain about one backup aircraft for every two combat-designated fighter aircraft; (2) the Air Force and Navy/Marine Corps will achieve the Bottom-Up Review's goals to reduce the size of the combat-designated aircraft forces by the end of fiscal year(FY) 1996; (3) the Air Force has not developed supportable plans for structuring and managing backup forces and justifying the procurement of backup aircraft; (4) realistic criteria are needed prior to the procurement of backup aircraft systems to prevent the Air Force and Navy/Marine Corps from buying more aircraft than needed; and (5) if attrition aircraft in excess of short-term needs are stored until needed, the Air Force could reduce operation and maintenance costs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force completed the review.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to develop and use supportable and consistent criteria to justify backup aircraft inventories and future procurement of backup aircraft as the Navy is doing.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD did not concur with this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to report the lack of valid backup fighter/attack aircraft requirements criteria as a material management weakness, in compliance with the Federal Managers Financial Integrity Act, until these criteria are developed and put in use.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force has published a revised instruction AFI 16-402, "Aerospace Vehicle Programming, Assignment, Distribution, Accounting, and Termination," which codifies Air Force policies and guidelines for Aircraft Inventory Management. Additionally, during the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), DOD conducted a thorough assessment of the total inventories planned for the F/A-18E/F, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), and the F-22. This assessment included development and application of a common attrition model for Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft inventories. Use of this model contributed to a significant reduction in the planned inventories of the F/A-18E/F, JSF and the F-22: 332, 126, and 99 aircraft respectively. The QDR program reductions using the common attrition model will accrue approximately $23 billion (FY1997 dollars) in savings over the procurement life of the three aircraft programs.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force and the Secretary of the Navy to adjust backup aircraft inventories, where needed, to conform to supportable and consistent criteria once established.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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