F/A-18 Naval Strike Fighter:

Its Effectiveness Is Uncertain

PSAD-80-24: Published: Feb 14, 1980. Publicly Released: Feb 14, 1980.

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The F/A-18 strike fighter is planned to replace such aircraft as the A-7, A-4, and F-4 presently used by the Navy and Marine Corps for fighter and light attack missions. Views were presented on issues concerning the Navy's F/A-18 strike fighter program.

The flight test of the F/A-18 strike fighter has identified problems in areas critical to performance, including acceleration and range. The aircraft's mission effectiveness is limited by the armaments it carries and by delayed development of its self- protection and all-weather capabilities. Despite delays in testing and correcting performance problems, the Navy is adhering to its tight production schedule. Numerous and costly performance problems occurred in past aircraft programs that developed and produced a system at the same time. Contractors' production problems and problems in areas not controlled by the Navy, such as inflation and fluctuations in the number of aircraft planned for production, have contributed to cost growth, and other factors are expected to contribute to additional cost growth. Also, the need for contractors to purchase long-lead parts and materials in advance of Navy funding authorizations could significantly affect the program's cost. The Departement of Defense and the Navy have been ineffective in developing and monitoring various data important to proper management of the F/A-18 program, and Defense reports have not kept the Congress adequately informed of progress in the program.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should: (1) delay increasing the F/A-18 monthly production rate until performance problems have been corrected and adequate testing has been completed for the Navy to assess the aircraft's mission capability; (2) give priority attention to developing the advanced self-protection and all-weather capabilities the F/A-18 will need to fulfill its missions; (3) develop strategies for assuring advance funding when needed to support contractors in their long-lead purchase obligations; (4) reassess the estimated cost of the F/A-18 program in light of identified problems and report this to the Congress; (5) ensure that needed management reporting devices are established and monitored; and (6) revise reporting requirements to ensure reporting of most recent testing data.

    Agency Affected:


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