Increased Oversight and Interservice Use of Military Aviation Training Ranges Can Reduce Costs

LCD-80-14: Published: Nov 26, 1979. Publicly Released: Nov 26, 1979.

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The Air Force and Navy, including the Marine Corps, spent an estimated $39.3 million in fiscal year 1978 to operate and maintain aviation training ranges. These ranges, which are necessary for practicing maneuvers and weapons delivery, enable aircrews to maintain readiness to perform their combat missions. An evaluation was made of the effectiveness and economy of the services' operation and management of aviation and training ranges, and opportunities for improvements were identified.

Aviation range management was highly decentralized, usually down to the operating base level. Top management levels exercised little oversight control, reviewed only limited range management information, and failed to emphasize maximum interservice use of ranges consistently. Neither the Department of Defense (DOD) nor the services were required to make assessments of aviation range requirements or assets. Each service developed ranges for its own use without giving adequate consideration to possibilities for maximum interservice use, as required by DOD instructions. As a result, the services' total range requirements and assets appeared to be imbalanced; similar range complexes existed in some geographic areas, each exhibiting low utilization rates; and range modernization programs appeared to contain some unnecessary duplication and some weakly supported items. Maximum efficency in range operation can be achieved only if ranges are used at or near their normal capacities. While the services recognized this fact, maximum or acceptable use levels had not been clearly defined. The services established range modernization programs to duplicate more closely combat environments, to accommodate new training requirements, and to take advantage of technological advances in equipment. The high costs of these programs require that improvements be carefully planned and justified. At the time of the evaluation, the services had not issued criteria on needed range improvements that should be identified, or guidelines to be considered.

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