Is the Joint Air Force/Navy Alternate Engine Program Workable? GAO Thinks Not as Presently Structured

PSAD-80-40: Published: May 9, 1980. Publicly Released: May 9, 1980.

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The primary objective of the Department of Defense's (DOD) F101 Derivative Fighter Engine (F101DFE) Program is to modify the F101 engine, designed for the B-1 bomber, for use as an alternative for engines in the Navy's F-14 and the Air Force's F-16 front line fighter aircraft should programs to correct problems with those engines fail. GAO questioned whether the Program is a workable alternative to the component improvement programs for the two engines. It believes that there is no assurance that (1) the F101DFE Program can provide a production engine with enhanced operability, reliability, and durability characteristics; (2) the production F101DFE will be available when and if needed; and (3) the F101DFE is an affordable and cost-effective substitute for these engines if the TF30 and F100 engine improvements fail. DOD and the services state that they fully expect the components improvement programs to demonstrate that the TF30 and F100 engine problems can be corrected by 1981, at which time the F101DFE Program would be terminated.

GAO believes that the F101DFE Program is at least as uncertain of producing a production engine with enhanced operability and supportability characteristics as are the TF30 and F100 improvement programs because of the differences in the three engines' stages of development. The F101DFE Program will not have a production engine available in 1981-82 when the services determine whether their improvement programs have been successful. Neither the services nor DOD have determined what constitutes sufficient failure of the improvement programs or at what point the F101DFE would be affordable and cost effective. Risks and costs of concurrent development and production and the question of the engines availability raise serious questions concerning the worth and affordability of the alternative engines to the Navy and the Air Force.

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