A Decision by the Secretary of Defense Is Needed on the AV-8B Aircraft Program

PSAD-80-23: Published: Feb 8, 1980. Publicly Released: Feb 8, 1980.

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GAO reviewed the status of the AV-8B aircraft program. The AV-8B aircraft is a vertical takeoff/landing aircraft being designed for use by the Marine Corps. The program has been controversial and has experienced severe cost growth.

GAO felt that the Secretary of Defense should make a decision on whether the AV-8B aircraft program should continue. Congress appropriated funds to continue development of the aircraft even though the Secretary of Defense did not request these funds for fiscal year 1980 and withheld much of the 1979 development funds. The initial operational capability goal of 1984 has been set back 2 years because of delays by the Department of Defense (DOD). DOD planned to acquire only a few of the aircraft each month at maximum production, stretching the procurement over a long period of time and maximizing the effects of inflation. Opponents of the program argued that conventional aircraft would provide greater speed and carry a greater payload, while proponents said it would provide more responsive close air support. The Marine Corps continued to support the aircraft. Further cost increases were expected.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should decide to either proceed with or terminate the AV-8B program. If he decides to proceed with it, he should: (1) consider the cost savings attributable to the program by requesting procurement funds in 1981 and changing the initial operational capability milestone to 1985; (2) evaluate alternatives to determine the most efficient production rate; and (3) include the cost for necessary trainer aircraft and a more effective gun and ammunition in the AV-8B program. If the Secretary decides to terminate the program, the Congress should be made aware of any plans for an alternative vertical and short takeoff and landing aircraft.

    Agency Affected:


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