Tactical Aircraft:

Concurrency in Development and Production of F-22 Aircraft Should Be Reduced

NSIAD-95-59: Published: Apr 19, 1995. Publicly Released: Apr 19, 1995.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO assessed the concurrency between the development and production phases of the Air Force's F-22 fighter program and the risks associated with that concurrency.

GAO found that: (1) the F-22 program has a high degree of concurrency because it will enter production before initial operational testing and evaluation (IOT&E) is completed; (2) F-22 concurrency poses substantial production and operational risks because the aircraft may be procured before technological advances are flight-tested; (3) the Air Force plans to procure 80 F-22 aircraft at a cost of $12.4 billion before completing IOT&E; (4) the F-22 low-rate initial production (LRIP) quantities substantially exceed the 10-percent guideline included in federal acquisition streamlining requirements; (5) the percentage of F-22 committed to production before IOT&E is higher than most recent fighter programs; (6) the Air Force plans to accelerate F-22 production rates in the LRIP phase of the program so that 75 percent of the full production rate will be achieved; (7) the planned rate of acceleration appears to exceed the amount that is needed to complete the program's LRIP phase and represents a plan to commit to a full-rate production schedule before IOT&E is completed; (8) the Air Force should limit LRIP quantities each year given the program's high degree of concurrency; (9) technology advances and innovations are critical to F-22 operational success; (10) the need for F-22 aircraft is not urgent and its procurement could be deferred; and (11) existing operational and technological problems need to be addressed before significant commitments are made to F-22 production.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD disagreed with GAO's conclusion that the degree of concurrency in the F-22 program should be reduced. DOD responded that the program has been structured to employ the most up-to-date concurrency guidelines to mitigate risk. However, since that response, the estimated cost to complete F-22 development increased, the development schedule was extended, test aircraft deliveries were delayed, test and integration processes for the major avionics development activities were modified, initial production plans were adjusted, and total quantities to be procured were lowered. Significant program changes were made as a result of the Quadrennial Defense Review that reduced concurrency somewhat. However, this recommendation has now been overcome by events in the program. Concurrency was never reduced, but as of June 2003, the development program is nearing completion, and by the end of fiscal year 2004, close to 70 aircraft will be on contract. It is now near impossible to reduce program concurrency.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should reduce the degree of concurrency in the program because: (1) independent testing of technology advances will not be completed before significant commitments are made to produce F-22 aircraft; (2) the percentage of planned F-22 to be committed to production before completion of IOT&E is higher than most recent fighter programs; and (3) the need for the F-22 is not urgent.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD disagreed with the recommendation for several reasons, including: (1) a high-rate production decision would be made prior to demonstrating a capability to increase the rate of production; (2) additional testing would be required; (3) costs would increase; and (4) production rates are unattractive. However, F-22 production plans were reduced by the Quadrennial Defense Review, which reduced the degree of concurrency somewhat. A similar recommendation, reflecting more current program circumstances, was included in TACTICAL AIRCRAFT: F-22 Development and Testing Delays Indicate Need for Limit on Low-Rate Production, (GAO-01-310, March 15, 2001). Accordingly this recommendation has been closed.

    Recommendation: To minimize commitments to production of F-22 until after successful completion of IOT&E, the Secretary of Defense should limit LRIP quantities to that which can be produced using the first set of hard tooling, about 6 to 8 aircraft a year.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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