Status of the Navy's Vertical Short Takeoff and Landing Aircraft

PSAD-78-61: Published: Feb 23, 1978. Publicly Released: Feb 23, 1978.

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The Navy is planning and exploring a Vertical Short Takeoff and Landing (VSTOL) aircraft program which could change its approach to providing and using sea-based aircraft in power projection and sea control functions. A transition to an all VSTOL sea-based air fleet is expected from 1991-2000. This could result in smaller deck aircraft carriers and the dispersal of manned tactical aircraft.

In the current program, the Navy is studying operational concepts to demonstrate the capabilities of current and future ship and aircraft combinations. Several considerations could limit program development. If VSTOL aircraft are not available during the transition period, in which both VSTOL and conventional aircraft would be operating off large deck carriers, there would be pressures to retain conventional aircraft. There are questions of whether the costs for development of VSTOL can be met while meeting current sea-based air fleet needs. The degree of VSTOL implementation will be determined by the effectiveness of dispersion of aircraft on a larger number of ship platforms. Assessments are being made of the degree of reliability, maintainability, and availability which can be achieved by VSTOL. Development depends on technological advancement which is being assessed for risk, needs, and status. There is a question of whether the acquisition strategy planned for the program complies with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) policies.

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