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Aircraft Requirements: Air Force and Navy Need to Establish Realistic
Criteria for Backup Aircraft (Letter Report, 09/29/95, GAO/NSIAD-95-180).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the trend in the
number of backup aircraft maintained by the Air Force and Navy, focusing
on the: (1) actions that the Department of Defense (DOD) and the
services have taken in response to prior recommendations to validate
backup aircraft requirements; and (2) opportunities to remove unneeded
backup aircraft from the force in order to minimize the cost of
operating and maintaining combat-designated 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 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.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-95-180
     TITLE:  Aircraft Requirements: Air Force and Navy Need to Establish 
             Realistic Criteria for Backup Aircraft
      DATE:  09/29/95
   SUBJECT:  Military aircraft
             Combat readiness
             Reductions in force
             Military cost control
             Military procurement
             Military inventories
             Fighter aircraft
             Military training
IDENTIFIER:  F-4 Aircraft
             F-15 Aircraft
             F-16 Aircraft
             F-111 Aircraft
             F-117 Aircraft
             A-10 Aircraft
             F/A-18 Aircraft
             F-14 Aircraft
             A-6 Aircraft
             AV-8B Aircraft
             DOD Bottom-Up Review
             F/A-18E/F Aircraft
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to Congressional Requesters

September 1995

AIRCRAFT REQUIREMENTS - AIR FORCE
AND NAVY NEED TO ESTABLISH
REALISTIC CRITERIA FOR BACKUP
AIRCRAFT

GAO/NSIAD-95-180

Aircraft Requirements

(701024)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  DOD - Department of Defense
  FMFIA - Federal Managers Financial Integrity Act

Letter
=============================================================== LETTER


B-257832

September 29, 1995

The Honorable Herbert H.  Bateman
Chairman
The Honorable Norman Sisisky
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Military Readiness
Committee on National Security
House of Representatives

The Honorable Robert K.  Dornan
Chairman
The Honorable Owen B.  Pickett
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Military Personnel
Committee on National Security
House of Representatives

The Honorable Ike Skelton
House of Representatives

Since 1977, numerous audits by the Department of Defense (DOD) and us
have reported that the military services overstate the number of
backup fighter/attack\1 aircraft needed for training, test and
evaluation, and as replacements for combat-designated aircraft that
are in maintenance or lost through attrition.  As of the end of
fiscal year 1993, the Air Force and the Navy/Marine Corps operated
and maintained 2,954 combat-designated fighter/attack aircraft and
1,623 similar, equally capable backup aircraft. 

The former Chairmen of the Subcommittee on Readiness and the
Subcommittee on Military Forces and Personnel were concerned that
backup forces were not efficiently managed and that this
mismanagement adversely affected funds available for
combat-designated forces.  The Chairmen requested that we identify

  trends in the number of backup aircraft maintained by the services,

  actions that DOD and the services have taken in response to prior
     recommendations by others and us to validate backup aircraft
     requirements, and

  opportunities to remove unneeded backup aircraft from the force to
     minimize the cost of operating and maintaining combat-designated
     aircraft. 


--------------------
\1 Fighter/attack aircraft include the Air Force F-4, F-15, F-16,
F-111, F-117, and A-10 and the Navy and the Marine Corps F/A-18,
F-14, A-6, and AV-8B. 


   BACKGROUND
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1

Backup aircraft account for about 35 percent of the Air Force's and
Navy/Marine Corps' fighter/attack aircraft inventory.  Operations and
maintenance funds appropriated to support these aircraft are
allocated based on the number of combat-designated aircraft, and the
test and evaluation, and training aircraft in the backup force. 
There is no additional allocation for maintenance and attrition
aircraft in the backup force.  Those backup aircraft are operated and
maintained with the same funds.  This affects the budget, because
maintenance and attrition backup forces siphon off funds from the
combat-designated force. 

DOD's October 1993 Bottom-Up Review:  Forces for a New Era required
the services to reduce and reshape their forces.  The Bottom-Up
Review specified 20 Air Force wings, 11 Navy air wings, and 4 Marine
Corps air wings.  DOD's goals for the services include reducing
combat-designated fighter/attack aircraft forces to 2,230 aircraft by
1999, a reduction of 25 percent from 1993 levels.\2

Since 1977, audits by us and DOD have recommended that DOD (1)
develop supportable criteria to justify backup aircraft inventories
and procurement, (2) reduce the number of these assets, and (3)
improve the management and oversight of these aircraft. 

In 1993, the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, reported that each
service continues to use its own methodology, terminology, and
philosophy to determine backup fighter/attack aircraft
requirements.\3 The report recommended the services use standard
terminology and inventory definitions and thereby help ensure that
procurement and maintenance funds be spent only on necessary
aircraft. 

The Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA) is a mechanism
for reporting material management weaknesses, such as unsupported
inventory criteria, to agency heads, Congress, and the President. 
FMFIA also requires a corrective action plan be devised and
milestones established to correct identified problems. 


--------------------
\2 This goal was set forth in the Secretary of Defense's Annual
Report to the President and the Congress, January 1994.  The goal was
subsequently increased to 2,262 fighter/attack aircraft in the
Secretary's February 1995 report. 

\3 See Roles, Missions, and Functions of the Armed Forces of the
United States, February 1993. 


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2

The Air Force and the Navy/Marine Corps operate and maintain about
one backup aircraft for every two combat-designated fighter/attack
aircraft.  The Air Force's and the Navy/Marine Corps' plans to reduce
the size of the combat-designated aircraft forces will, if
implemented, essentially achieve the Bottom-Up Review's force level
goals by the end of fiscal year 1996.  Backup forces will also be
reduced but will still make up about one-third of all fighter/attack
aircraft operated and maintained by the services. 

The Air Force has not developed supportable criteria for structuring
and managing the backup forces and justifying the procurement of
backup aircraft.  The Navy/Marine Corps have begun to revise their
criteria.  Realistic criteria are essential today because both the
Air Force and the Navy plan to buy expensive new aircraft systems in
the near future--the F-22 and the F/A-18E/F, respectively.  If
realistic criteria for backup aircraft are not established soon, the
Air Force and the Navy could buy more aircraft than needed. 

If attrition aircraft in excess of short-term needs were stored until
needed, the Air Force could reduce operation and maintenance costs. 


   SERVICES' PLAN TO SIGNIFICANTLY
   REDUCE COMBAT-DESIGNATED AND
   BACKUP AIRCRAFT BY 1996
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3

By fiscal year 1996, the services' force structure plans show
significant reductions in combat-designated fighter/attack aircraft. 
These reductions are summarized in table 1 and appendix I.  If these
reductions are achieved, the ratio of combat-designated aircraft to
backup aircraft will not significantly change.  The relative number
of combat-designated aircraft will increase slightly compared with
backup aircraft, from 64.5 percent of the total active force in
fiscal year 1993 to 66.5 percent of the total force in fiscal year
1996. 



                                Table 1
                
                  Comparison of Planned Fighter/Attack
                Aircraft Reductions and Bottom-Up Review
                                 Goals