Naval Aviation:

Consider All Alternatives Before Proceeding With the F/A-18E/F

NSIAD-93-144: Published: Aug 27, 1993. Publicly Released: Aug 27, 1993.

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GAO reviewed the Navy's decision to develop the F/A-18E/F aircraft.

GAO found that: (1) the Navy's decision to develop the F/A-18E/F aircraft is premature; (2) although the F/A-18E/F would be large enough to accommodate improved weapon systems and new electronic systems, F/A-18E/F procurement cannot be sufficiently justified, since existing military threats can be met with current aircraft capabilities; (3) the Navy has not properly considered alternatives for meeting its mission needs including changes to its tactics or strategy; and (4) the Navy needs to reevaluate the F/A-18E/F program and revise its cost and operational analysis before F/A-18E/F production is approved.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD cites several initiatives that it believes validate its decision to develop the F/A-18E/F. These actions do not contain the degree of analysis that GAO believes would be necessary. This issue is part of GAO's ongoing look at Navy tactical aviation modernization efforts (707072).

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to revalidate the need for another strike/fighter aircraft by demonstrating that there is or will be a military threat that it cannot meet with present weapon systems and force structure. In conducting this analysis, the Navy should consider whether: (1) changes can be made in military operations, such as modifications to military tactics or strategy to obviate the need for developing a new weapon system; (2) another military service can meet the threat with existing capabilities; and (3) another type of weapon system can be developed to counter the threat if the development of a new weapon system cannot be avoided.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD cites its analysis, specifically the COEA done by the Navy, as the reason for not concurring in this recommendation. According to the Center for Naval Analysis, the COEA conducted was not a complete COEA and did not evaluate all systems.

    Recommendation: If the Navy finds that it needs to develop an aircraft, the Navy should conduct a thorough analysis of all reasonable alternative aircraft designs on a comparable basis before proceeding with a development program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy


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