Aircraft Procurement:

Air Force Air Defense Fighter Competition

NSIAD-86-170BR: Published: Jul 22, 1986. Publicly Released: Aug 21, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reported on the Air Force's planned competitive acquisition of 270 fighter aircraft for the strategic air defense forces.

GAO noted that: (1) the Air Force had not identified a requirement for new aircraft until two firms submitted unsolicited proposals offering the F-20 and the F-16(SC) aircraft at substantially lower prices than models the Air Force was purchasing; (2) the planned acquisition will increase funding requirements by $4 billion; (3) the Air Force originally planned to procure about 276 aircraft per year to replace older aircraft and to increase its tactical air forces (TAF) from 36 to 40 wings; and (4) to comply with a congressional mandate for a competitive acquisition of new fighter aircraft, the Air Force decided to use the 270 aircraft for its less demanding strategic air defense mission rather than rotating older aircraft. GAO found that: (1) purchasing new aircraft to upgrade air defense forces will not substantially improve air defense capability compared to the standard practice of rotating older aircraft; (2) an Air National Guard study contended that the current inventory of F-4D aircraft could, with some modifications, provide more air defense capability at less cost than buying the 270 new aircraft; and (3) modernizing both TAF and the strategic air defense forces will result in procurement of 48 more aircraft from fiscal years 1988 through 1992 than the Air Force originally planned.

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