The Department of Defense (DOD) plans to invest $109 billion in its tactical air forces between 2007 and 2013. Long term, DOD plans to replace aging legacy aircraft with fewer, more expensive but more capable and stealthy aircraft. Recapitalizing and modernizing tactical air forces within today's constrained budget environment is a formidable challenge. DOD has already incurred substantial cost and schedule overruns in its acquisition of new systems, and further delays could require billions of dollars in additional investments to keep legacy aircraft capable and sustainable. Because of the large investments and risk, GAO was asked to review investment planning for tactical aircraft. This report describes the current status of DOD's new tactical aircraft acquisition programs; identifies current impacts on legacy aircraft modernization programs and retirement schedules; and assesses DOD's overall investment plan for tactical aircraft.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||In order to recapitalize and sustain capable and sufficient tactical air forces that reflect what is needed and affordable from a joint service perspective and that has high confidence of being executed as planned, the Secretary of Defense should take decisive actions to shorten cycle times in delivering needed combat capabilities to the warfighter including adopting a time-certain development cycle that can deliver an increment of new capability within 5 to 6 years after the start of system design and development, and reassessing requirements for ongoing weapon system acquisition programs to identify ways to reduce requirements and speed up delivery of initial capabilities.|
|Department of Defense||In order to recapitalize and sustain capable and sufficient tactical air forces that reflect what is needed and affordable from a joint service perspective and that has high confidence of being executed as planned, the Secretary of Defense should develop an integrated enterprise-level investment strategy that is based on a joint assessment of warfighting needs and a full set of potential and viable alternative solutions, considering not only new acquisitions but also modifications to legacy aircraft to achieve this balance within realistic and affordable budget projections for DOD; strikes a balance between maintaining near-term readiness and addressing long-term needs; and considers the contributions of bombers, long range strike aircraft, unmanned aircraft, missiles, and other weapons currently in the inventory and those planned that can be employed to attack the same type targets as the tactical aircraft.|