Naval Aviation:

F/A-18 E/F Acquisition Strategy

NSIAD-94-194: Published: Aug 18, 1994. Publicly Released: Sep 22, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Navy's plans for acquiring tactical aircraft, focusing on whether Department of Defense (DOD) acquisition regulations permitted classification of the F/A-18E/F program as a major modification rather than a new program.

GAO found that: (1) DOD based its decision to classify F/A-18E/F development as a major modification of existing aircraft on a Navy risk analysis and recommendations of a defense acquisition committee; (2) the Navy considers E/F aircraft to be larger, more capable versions of F/A-18C/D aircraft; (3) the Navy cannot modify existing F/A-18C/D aircraft to E/F configurations because of the significant differences between the two aircraft; (4) the Navy did not consider other alternatives for performing tactical missions before approving E/F development; (5) DOD has the discretion to minimize development time and costs by skipping some acquisition steps required for new programs, but the Navy did not fully document its threat assessment and needs; (6) the Navy awarded a sole-source contract for E/F development, since only one responsible source was capable of meeting its requirements; and (7) it cannot determine whether DOD classification decisions will have a positive or negative impact on the F/A-18E/F program.

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