Opportunities To Strengthen Navy Aircraft Engine Research and Technology Program Planning

NSIAD-85-13: Published: Dec 4, 1984. Publicly Released: Dec 4, 1984.

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GAO reviewed the adequacy of the Navy's procedures for planning and selecting its aviation propulsion research and technology development projects. Shortly before the review, the Navy undertook or planned a number of initiatives to improve its planning for engine research and technology development projects. These included a long-range propulsion plan, supporting program plans, and analyses of how technology improvements enhanced engine and aircraft performance.

GAO found that, in the past, the Navy had not formalized an overall plan setting forth future engine requirements, goals, or objectives for developing related aviation propulsion technologies. The Naval Air Systems Command has experienced schedule delays in preparing an overall plan; according to program officials, there have been difficulties in assessing the system's probabilities and needs. The Navy is also using in-house and contractor studies to evaluate emerging technologies which were designed to quantify the benefits of technologies currently under development. GAO was informed that the in-house and contractor studies are preliminary efforts that will require follow-on analyses. The Department of Defense (DOD) agreed that the Navy does not have a formal, overall, long-range plan for aircraft engine research and development. The Navy has employed various procedures in planning for engine research and technology development; however, past procedures have not resulted in comprehensive plans. DOD agreed with the intent of the GAO planning proposal but disagreed with having a comprehensive schedule for the plans' completion and implementation. GAO modified the original proposal in accordance with DOD suggestions. Accordingly, it was recommended that the Navy establish a firm completion date for the plan.

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