Close Air Support:

Upgraded A-7 Aircraft's Mission Effectiveness and Total Cost Unknown

NSIAD-88-210: Published: Sep 2, 1988. Publicly Released: Oct 5, 1988.

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Harry R. Finley
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In response to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Air Force's efforts to upgrade its A-7 aircraft.

GAO found that the Air Force: (1) awarded a contract to develop two upgraded A-7 prototypes, known as the A-7 PLUS, to evaluate the feasibility of engineering changes; (2) did not identify specific operational performance requirements for the upgraded aircraft, but expects that they will perform better than the A-7 aircraft; (3) did not evaluate the A-7 PLUS aircraft's projected capabilities against the latest close air support and battlefield air interdiction scenarios and mission requirements because it did not have the requirements or the resources when it decided on the aircraft; (4) estimated that it would cost $4.9 billion to upgrade the A-7 aircraft, including $178 million for the two prototype aircraft; (5) has not decided on avionics engine options and modifications which could increase the overall cost; and (6) because of limited production funds and budgetary delays, revised the delivery date from 1991 to 1993.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The A-7 PLUS mission effectiveness has been evaluated against the Mission Requirements package. The results of this evaluation are being used in assessing the aircraft's cost-effectiveness in performing CAS and BAI missions. Evaluation and refinement of mission requirements will continue throughout the flight test program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should evaluate A-7 PLUS mission effectiveness against the mission requirements package developed for the A-10 replacement study. The results of the evaluation could be used in assessing the aircraft's cost effectiveness in performing the close air support and battlefield air interdiction missions, as required by Public Law 100-180.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force


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