Air Force and Navy Trainer Aircraft Acquisition Programs

MASAD-83-22: Published: Jul 5, 1983. Publicly Released: Jul 5, 1983.

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Harry R. Finley
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GAO reviewed three proposed Navy and Air Force programs to acquire 1,184 trainer aircraft at a cost of about $10.8 billion during the next 20 to 25 years.

The Navy has changed its plan to buy 282 T-45 trainer aircraft which can operate from aircraft carriers. To reduce costs in the early program years, it plans to buy a mixed fleet of 305 aircraft, of which 251 would be carrier-capable. GAO found that a mixed aircraft fleet is feasible, but may be more costly and the Navy might be able to avoid buying a mixed fleet. Despite a congressional desire to have training aircraft meet the needs of both the Navy and the Air Force, the Air Force probably will not procure any T-45's because they do not meet Air Force performance requirements. No periodic reports on the status of this program have been presented to Congress. GAO found that the estimated costs for the full-scale development of the T-46A aircraft increased 5 percent from July 1981 to June 1982 because of inflation and an extended production schedule. GAO found that there is overlap between development and production schedules which may delay the development schedule or result in the need to make post-production changes in the aircraft. The Navy is not interested in acquiring this aircraft due to its cost. Congress failed to appropriate funds for the Tanker-Transport-Bomber Training System in 1983, but the Air Force is requesting 1984 funds to begin development of the system.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A USD (R&E) spokesman said that the noncarrier-capable aircraft will not be purchased. Therefore, acquisition has been delayed. The Navy is restructuring the entire program because of GAO and House Appropriation Committee action. The report directed the Navy to procure carrier-capable aircraft.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to consider extending use of existing TA-4J aircraft in lieu of procuring T-45's that are not capable of operating from aircraft carriers. This would permit delaying acquisition of the T-45 until a carrier-capable version could be made available, eliminate the need to acquire a mixed fleet of aircraft, and could result in cost savings.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Secretary of Defense has not directed the development of a program plan. Such a plan is generally produced as a matter of good acquisition policy. The Navy is restructuring the entire acquisition program since it has been directed to procure only carrier-capable aircraft. The Secretary of the Navy recently rejected the Navy acquisition plan; it is being redone.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to develop a firm program plan which discloses the uncertainties, risk, and judgment factors involved in determining the quantity of T-45 aircraft to be procured, the procurement schedule, and funding requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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