Aircraft Requirements

Air Force and Navy Need to Establish Realistic Criteria for Backup Aircraft Gao ID: NSIAD-95-180 September 29, 1995

Since 1977, many audits by the Defense Department (DOD) and GAO have pointed out that the military services overstate the number of backup fighter/attack aircraft needed for training, test and evaluation, and as replacement for combat aircraft that are lost through attrition or are being repaired. At the end of fiscal year 1993, the Air Force and the Navy/Marine Corps maintained nearly 3,000 fighter/attack aircraft and about 1,600 similar, equally capable backup planes. In response to congressional concerns that backup forces are not efficiently managed and that this had adversely affected funds available for combat forces, this report identifies (1) trends in the number of backup aircraft maintained by the services, (2) steps that the military has taken in response to recommendations made by GAO and other to validate backup aircraft requirements, and (3) opportunities to remove unneeded backup aircraft from the force to minimize the cost of operating and maintaining combat aircraft.

GAO found that: (1) the Air Force and Navy/Marine Corps operate and maintain about one backup aircraft for every two combat-designated fighter aircraft; (2) the Air Force and Navy/Marine Corps will achieve the Bottom-Up Review's goals to reduce the size of the combat-designated aircraft forces by the end of fiscal year(FY) 1996; (3) the Air Force has not developed supportable plans for structuring and managing backup forces and justifying the procurement of backup aircraft; (4) realistic criteria are needed prior to the procurement of backup aircraft systems to prevent the Air Force and Navy/Marine Corps from buying more aircraft than needed; and (5) if attrition aircraft in excess of short-term needs are stored until needed, the Air Force could reduce operation and maintenance costs.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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