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Highlights

The Air Force is preparing a modernization plan that expands the capabilities of the F/A-22, which was first designed to serve as an air-to-air fighter aircraft with very limited ability to strike targets on the ground. The Air Force now intends to transform it by adding robust air-to-ground capabilities to attack enemy ground threats and by adding onboard intelligence data gathering capabilities. After the recent budget cut, DOD estimates F/A-22 cost at $63.8 billion for 178 aircraft. It has been in development for more than 19 years, a decade longer than originally envisioned. In the face of significant cost and schedule overruns, Congress mandates that GAO annually assess the F/A-22 program. In this report, GAO addresses (1) the Air Force's business case for the F/A-22 modernization plan and (2) the recently completed initial operational test and evaluation.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. Because of evolving threats against the United States; pending changes in U.S. defense plans; the lack of clarity regarding F/A-22 required capabilities, quantities, and resources; the recent budget decision; and upcoming reviews on joint air capabilities, the Secretary of Defense should complete a new business case that determines the continued need for the F/A-22 and that justifies the F/A-22's expanded air-to-ground capabilities based on an assessment of alternatives to include both operational assets and planned future weapon systems.
Closed - Implemented
In April 2009, the Secretary of Defense stated that based on recommendations from the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force, 187 F-22s are sufficient to meet current requirements. However, Congress continues to debate the number of F-22s that will be procured.
Department of Defense 2. Because of evolving threats against the United States; pending changes in U.S. defense plans; the lack of clarity regarding F/A-22 required capabilities, quantities, and resources; the recent budget decision; and upcoming reviews on joint air capabilities, the Secretary of Defense should complete a new business case that determines the continued need for the F/A-22 and that justifies the quantity of F/A-22 aircraft needed to satisfy requirements for air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.
Closed - Implemented
In April 2009, the Secretary of Defense stated that based on recommendations from the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force, 187 F-22s are sufficient to meet current requirements. However, Congress continues to debate the number of F-22s that will be procured.
Department of Defense 3. Because of evolving threats against the United States; pending changes in U.S. defense plans; the lack of clarity regarding F/A-22 required capabilities, quantities, and resources; the recent budget decision; and upcoming reviews on joint air capabilities, the Secretary of Defense should complete a new business case that determines the continued need for the F/A-22 and that provides evidence that the planned quantity and capabilities are affordable within current and projected budgets and the statutory funding limitation.
Closed - Implemented
In April 2009, the Secretary of Defense stated that based on recommendations from the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force, 187 F-22s are sufficient to meet current requirements. However, Congress continues to debate the number of F-22s that will be procured.
Department of Defense 4. Because of evolving threats against the United States; pending changes in U.S. defense plans; the lack of clarity regarding F/A-22 required capabilities, quantities, and resources; the recent budget decision; and upcoming reviews on joint air capabilities, the Secretary of Defense should complete a new business case that determines the continued need for the F/A-22 and that addresses impacts of the recent budget decision on the need for and cost of future developmental activities, long-term logistical support and basing decisions, and the ability to take advantage of cost reduction efforts, such as multiyear contracting and productivity improvement.
Closed - Implemented
In April 2009, the Secretary of Defense stated that based on recommendations from the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force, 187 F-22s are sufficient to meet current requirements. However, Congress continues to debate the number of F-22s that will be procured.
Department of Defense 5. Because of evolving threats against the United States; pending changes in U.S. defense plans; the lack of clarity regarding F/A-22 required capabilities, quantities, and resources; the recent budget decision; and upcoming reviews on joint air capabilities, the Secretary of Defense should complete a new business case that determines the continued need for the F/A-22 and that justifies the need for investments for a new computer architecture and avionics processor, and F/A-22 infrastructure deficiencies.
Closed - Implemented
In April 2009, the Secretary of Defense stated that based on recommendations from the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force, 187 F-22s are sufficient to meet current requirements. However, Congress continues to debate the number of F-22s that will be procured.

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