Defense AcquisitionsProgress of the F/A-18E/F Engineering and Manufacturing Development Program Gao ID: NSIAD-99-127 June 15, 1999
The F/A-18E/F is meeting all performance requirements, according to the Navy. GAO does not agree with this assessment. The Navy based its assessment on the E model's performance and assumed some improvements to the aircraft that have yet to be shown. Without that assumption, the F model, which makes up more than half of the E/F planned buy, is not meeting the interdiction range requirement--a primary justification for the program. The Navy's schedule for operational test and evaluation, combined with unresolved aircraft deficiencies, could cause the E/F to fail that testing. Corrections of some deficiencies have been shifted to later in the program. This will help the Navy stay within the congressionally mandated cost cap for development; however, correcting these shortcomings will increase the aircraft's development costs. GAO recommends that the Defense Department defer multiyear funding for the E/F program until all corrections of deficiencies have been incorporated into the aircraft's design and successfully tested.
GAO noted that: (1) according to the Navy, the F/A-18E/F is meeting all performance requirements; (2) GAO does not agree with the Navy's assessment; (3) the Navy based its assessment on the E model's performance and assumed some improvements to the aircraft that have not yet been demonstrated; (4) without that assumption, the F model, which makes up over half of the E/F planned buy, is not meeting the interdiction range requirement--a primary justification for the program; (5) the Navy's OPEVAL schedule, combined with unresolved aircraft deficiencies, could cause the E/F to fail OPEVAL; (6) the Navy maintained its original schedule and started OPEVAL on May 27, 1999, even though completion of the development effort slipped from November 1998 to April 1999; (7) because the Navy is maintaining its original OPEVAL schedule, the contractor has insufficient time to correct some critical deficiencies in the aircraft that, according to Navy criteria, should be corrected prior to OPEVAL; (8) Department of Defense, Navy, and contractor personnel have stated that there is a medium risk that OPEVAL might find the E/F not operationally effective or suitable; (9) such a conclusion could result in a delay or postponement of the full-rate production decision and the need to conduct additional operational testing; (10) corrections of some deficiencies have been shifted to later in the program; (11) this will help the Navy stay within the congressionally mandated developmental cost cap, however, correcting these deficiencies will increase the procurement costs of the aircraft; (12) Congress is considering the Navy's request for multiyear procurement of the F/A-18E/F; (13) a key criterion for obtaining congressional approval for multiyear procurement is design stability; and (14) correction of some E/F deficiencies could result in contract modifications and design changes to the aircraft, which increases the risk associated with Congress's approving the Navy's multiyear procurement request for the E/F at this time.Recommendations
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.Director: Team: Phone: