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Navy Aviation: F/A-18E/F will Provide Marginal Operational Improvement at High Cost (Chapter Report, 06/18/96, GAO/NSIAD-96-98).

GAO reviewed the Navy's plan to procure with F/A-18E/F aircraft,
focusing on: (1) whether operational deficiencies in the F/A-18C/D cited
by the Navy to justify the need for the F/A-18E/F have materialized and,
if they have, the extent to which the F/A-18E/F would correct them; (2)
whether the F/A-18E/F will provide an appreciable increase in
operational capability over the F/A-18C/D; and (3) the reliability of
the cost estimates for the F/A-18E/F and a comparison of those estimates
with the costs of potential alternatives.

GAO found that: (1) the F/A-18C/D could achieve strike ranges far
greater than the F/A-18E/F with some modifications; (2) F/A-18C/D
aircraft in service in Bosnian operations have achieved a carrier
recovery payload capacity greater than the F/A-18E/F carrier recovery
payload capacity; (3) while the F/A-18E/F would enjoy improved
survivability over the F/A-18C/D, current threats do not justify the
planned improvements, and those improvements might be better attained at
less cost with the next-generation Joint Strike Fighter; (4) despite the
Navy's prediction, the F/A-18C/D has the additional space required for
new avionics systems; (5) projected F/A-18E/F payload improvements may
not occur due to air flow problems and weight limitations; (6) the
next-generation Joint Strike Fighter may cost up to $21 million less per
aircraft, and be more capable than the F/A-18E/F; (7) the F/A-18E/F will
cost $9.6 million more per aircraft than originally estimated; and (8)
the Navy would save $17 billion in recurring flyaway costs if it
procured F/A-18C/D aircraft rather than F/A-18E/F aircraft.

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

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-96-98
     TITLE:  Navy Aviation: F/A-18E/F will Provide Marginal Operational 
             Improvement at High Cost
      DATE:  06/18/96
   SUBJECT:  Navy procurement
             Naval aircraft
             Tactical air forces
             Cost effectiveness analysis
             Advanced weapons systems
             Fighter aircraft
             Air warfare
             Military cost control
             Defense capabilities
IDENTIFIER:  F/A-18 Aircraft
             Joint Strike Fighter
             F/A-18C/D Aircraft
             F/A-18E/F Aircraft
             Hornet Aircraft
             Bosnia
             F-404 Engine
             F-414 Engine
             ALR-67(V)3 Radar Warning Receiver
             DOD Bottom-Up Review
             Joint Advanced Strike Technology Program
             ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispensing System
             Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile
             AMRAAM
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to Congressional Committees

June 1996

NAVY AVIATION - F/A-18E/F WILL
PROVIDE MARGINAL OPERATIONAL
IMPROVEMENT AT HIGH COST

GAO/NSIAD-96-98

Navy Aviation

(707072)


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

  AMRAAM - Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile
  CNA - Center for Naval Analysis
  DOD - Department of Defense
  EOA - Early Operational Assessment
  EPE - Enhanced Performance Engine
  GAO - General Accounting Office
  HARM - High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile
  JAST - Joint Advanced Strike Technology
  JSF - Joint Strike Fighter
  JSOW - Joint Standoff Weapon
  LRIP - low-rate initial production
  NAVAIR - Naval Air Systems Command

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


B-260367

June 18, 1996

Congressional Committees

The F/A-18E/F program is one of the Department of Defense's most
costly tactical aviation programs.  We reviewed the F/A-18E/F program
as part of our overall review of the Navy's efforts to modernize its
tactical aircraft fleet.  We included the F/A-18C/D, F/A-18E/F, and
DOD's plans for the next generation Joint Strike Fighter in our
review. 

Our review objectives were to (1) determine whether operational
deficiencies in the F/A-18C/D cited by the Navy to justify the need
for the F/A-18E/F have materialized and, if they have, the extent to
which the E/F would correct them, (2) ascertain whether the F/A-18E/F
will provide an appreciable increase in operational capability over
the F/A-18C/D, and (3) review the reliability of the cost estimates
for the F/A-18E/F and compare those estimates with the costs of
potential alternatives to the E/F program. 

Given the high cost and marginal operational improvements that the
F/A-18E/F would provide, this report recommends that the Secretary of
Defense reconsider the decision to produce the F/A-18E/F aircraft
and, instead, consider procuring additional F/A-18C/Ds until the next
generation strike fighter achieves operational capability.  We also
suggest that the Congress, in considering DOD's fiscal year 1997
budget request, may wish to direct that no funds may be obligated for
procurement of the F/A-18E/F until alternatives to the E/F program
are fully considered. 

We believe that implementing our suggested approach could result in
savings of almost $17 billion.  We are addressing this report to you
because of your jurisdiction over this issue. 

Please contact me at (202) 512-4841 if you or your staff have any
questions concerning this report.  Major contributors to this report
are listed in appendix IV. 

Louis J.  Rodrigues
Director, Defense Acquisitions Issues

List of Congressional Committees

The Honorable Strom Thurmond
Chairman
The Honorable Sam Nunn
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate

The Honorable Ted Stevens
Chairman
The Honorable Daniel K.  Inouye
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate

The Honorable Floyd Spence
Chairman
The Honorable Ronald V.  Dellums
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on National Security
House of Representatives

The Honorable C.W.  Bill Young
Chairman
The Honorable John P.  Murtha
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on National Security
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
============================================================ Chapter 0


   PURPOSE
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1

The F/A-18E/F program, at a projected total program cost of $63.09
billion (fiscal year 1996 dollars)/$89.15 billion (then-year
dollars),\1 is one of the most costly aviation programs in the
Department of Defense (DOD).  It is the successor to several
unsuccessful attempts to modernize the Navy's tactical aviation fleet
and is intended to complement and eventually replace the Navy's
F/A-18C/D and F-14 aircraft.  GAO's review focused on determining
whether continued development of the F/A-18E/F is the most
cost-effective approach to modernizing the Navy's tactical aircraft
fleet.  Specific objectives were to (1) determine whether operational
deficiencies in the F/A-18C/D cited by the Navy to justify the need
for the F/A-18E/F have materialized and, if they have, the extent to
which the E/F would correct them, (2) ascertain whether the F/A-18E/F
will provide an appreciable increase in operational capability over
the F/A-18C/D, and (3) review the reliability of the cost estimates
for the F/A-18E/F and compare those estimates with the costs of
potential alternatives to the E/F program. 


--------------------
\1 Then-year dollar expenditures include estimated inflation for the
years in which the expenditures are expected to occur; constant
dollar expenditures, by holding purchasing power constant, eliminate
the effect of inflation.  The total program cost has recently been
reduced to $80.96 billion (then-year dollars) based on revised
economic assumptions that lowered annual inflation indexes from 3
percent to 2.2 percent. 


   BACKGROUND
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2

The Navy performs its carrier-based missions with a mix of fighter
(air-to-air), strike (air-to-ground), and strike/fighter (multirole)
aircraft.  Currently, carrier-based F-14 fighter aircraft perform the
air-to-air missions; A-6Es perform the air-to-ground missions; and
F/A-18s perform the air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. 

Since the late 1980s, the Navy has participated in several
unsuccessful joint service programs to replace its A-6E attack
aircraft with stealth aircraft.  Initial efforts began with the A-12
program, but that program was terminated in 1991 for technical and
cost reasons.  The Navy continued its modernization efforts through a
new program designated the A/F-X, and requested funding to upgrade
its F/A-18\2 through a modification program designated the F/A-18E/F. 
In 1993, DOD's Bottom-Up Review concluded that DOD could not afford
all of its aviation programs and recommended termination of the A/F-X
program.  However, the Bottom-Up Review recommended that the
F/A-18E/F program continue and that a new program, the Joint Advanced
Strike Technology (JAST) program, be initiated to seek ways to make
the services' next generation strike aircraft more affordable. 

The F/A-18E/F program, which originated from the 1988 Hornet 2000
study conducted by the Naval Air Systems Command and McDonnell
Douglas Aerospace Corporation, was approved as a Major Modification
program on May 12, 1992.  The total program cost, estimated to be
$63.09 billion (fiscal year 1996 dollars)/$89.15 billion (then-year
dollars), is comprised of $5.783 billion (fiscal year 1996
dollars)/$5.803 billion (then-year dollars) in development costs, and
$57.31 billion (fiscal year 1996 dollars)/$83.35 billion (then-year
dollars) in procurement costs for 1,000 aircraft.  Initial
operational capability is scheduled for 2000, with fielding of the
first operational carrier-based squadron scheduled for 2003. 
Procurement of the E/F is scheduled to continue through 2015. 

The Commission on Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces, in its May
1995 report, concluded that DOD may have greater quantities of strike
aircraft and other deep attack weapon systems than it needs.  The
commission recommended, and DOD agreed to conduct, a DOD-wide
cost-effectiveness study focused on finding the appropriate
combination and quantities of deep attack capabilities currently
fielded and under development by all the services. 

In conducting its review, GAO acquired Navy data that the service
used to project operational deficiencies in the F/A-18C/D and
compared that data with the current C/D operational performance to
determine whether the projected deficiencies had materialized;
evaluated the Hornet 2000 study, acquisition reports, operational
requirements documents, and engineering and test data that DOD used
in justifying the F/A-18E/F program; and obtained and evaluated E/F
procurement cost data that the Navy provided to the Congress. 


--------------------
\2 The first major upgrade to the F/A-18 fleet resulted in the
F/A-18C/D.  First delivery of the C/Ds began in late 1987. 


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3

As of December 31, 1995, the Navy had spent about $3.75 billion
(then-year dollars) on the development phase of the F/A-18E/F
program.  DOD's next major decision is whether to proceed into the
estimated $57.31 billion (fiscal year 1996)/$83.35 billion (then-year
dollars) procurement program to manufacture 1,000 aircraft. 

The operational deficiencies in the F/A-18C/Ds that the Navy cited in
justifying the F/A-18E/F either have not materialized as projected or
can be corrected with nonstructural changes to the C/D.  Furthermore,
E/F operational capabilities will only be marginally improved over
the C/D model.  In addition, although the E/F will have increased
range over the C/D model, the C/D's range will exceed the range
required by the E/F's system specifications and the E/F's range
increase is achieved at the expense of its aerial combat performance. 
Also, modifications to increase the E/F's payload have created a
problem when weapons are released from the aircraft that may reduce
the E/F's potential payload capability. 

Over the years, the Navy has improved the operational capabilities of
the F/A-18C/D so that procuring more of them, rather than the new
model E/F aircraft, could be the most cost-effective approach to
modernizing the Navy's tactical aircraft fleet in the mid-term.  In
that regard, additional upgrades, should they be needed, could be
made to the F/A-18C/D, which would further improve its capabilities. 
These upgrades include such things as a larger fuel tank for more
range and strengthened landing gear and other changes to increase
carrier recovery payload.  Then, for the long term, the JAST
program's newly designated Joint Strike Fighter could be an
alternative to the F/A-18E/F.  The Joint Strike Fighter operational
capabilities are projected by the JAST office to be equal or superior
to the F/A-18E/F at a lower unit cost. 

DOD's $43.6 million (fiscal year 1996 dollars) unit recurring flyaway
cost\3 estimate for the F/A-18E/F is understated.  The estimate is
based on a total buy of 1,000 aircraft--660 for the Navy and 340 for
the Marine Corps--and an eventual annual production rate of 72
aircraft per year.  However, the total number of aircraft to be
procured and the annual production rate are overstated.  The Marine
Corps does not plan to buy the F/A-18E/F aircraft, and in 1992, the
Congress questioned whether an annual production rate of 72 aircraft
was affordable.  GAO calculations show that reducing the number of
aircraft to be procured and the annual production rate to more
realistic levels will increase the unit recurring flyaway cost of the
aircraft from about $44 million to $53 million (fiscal year 1996
dollars).  This compares to $28 million (fiscal year 1996 dollars)
for the F/A-18C/D.  GAO calculated that the Navy could save almost
$17 billion (fiscal year 1996 dollars) in recurring flyaway costs by
buying 660 new F/A-18C/D model aircraft instead of 660 F/A-18E/F
model aircraft. 


--------------------
\3 GAO used recurring flyaway costs because DOD has consistently
maintained that these costs are the most appropriate to compare the
costs of different aircraft.  Recurring flyaway costs include costs
related to the production of the basic aircraft and do not include
all procurement costs.  Appendix I contains a more detailed
discussion of what makes up various costs and how they are
calculated. 


   PRINCIPAL FINDINGS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4


      F/A-18E/F WILL PROVIDE
      MARGINAL IMPROVEMENTS OVER
      F/A-18C/D
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.1

The Navy justified the need for the F/A-18E/F in three key areas: 
increased range, the capability to return to the carrier with unused
weapons and stores (referred to as carrier recovery payload), and
improved survivability. 

Although the F/A-18E/F range will be greater than the F/A-18C/D, the
C/D could achieve strike ranges far greater than the target distances
stipulated in the E/F's system specifications by flying the same
high-altitude missions as the E/F.  Further range improvements,
should the Navy decide they are necessary, can be made to the C/D by
using the larger 480-gallon external fuel tanks that are planned to
be used on the E/F.  Furthermore, even with increased range, both the
C/D and E/F will require aerial refueling to hit most targets if
low-altitude missions are flown rather than the higher altitude
missions now being planned for.  Additionally, the E/F's increased
range is achieved at the expense of combat performance. 
Specifically, the E/F's limited improvement in engine thrust, coupled
with the fact that the E/F is a larger aircraft than the C/D, results
in the E/F having less air-to-air combat capability in sustained turn
rate, maneuvering, and acceleration than the C/D. 

The F/A-18C carrier recovery payload deficiency has not occurred as
the Navy had predicted in 1992 when the F/A-18E/F was approved. 
F/A-18Cs operating in support of Bosnian operations are now routinely
returning to the carrier with operational loads that exceed the
Navy's stated carrier recovery payload capacity.  This carrier
recovery payload is currently greater than when the F/A-18C/D was
introduced into the fleet in fiscal year 1988.  With landing gear and
other modifications, the C/D's carrier recovery payload capacity
would be greater than the carrier recovery payload sought for the
F/A-18E/F. 

Although improvements are planned for the F/A-18E/F to increase its
survivability in combat, the need for the aircraft was not justified
to counter threats that could not be countered with existing or
improved F/A-18C/Ds.  Also, the effectiveness of the stealth
improvements planned for the E/F is questionable and might better be
attained at less cost with the next generation Joint Strike Fighter. 
For example, unlike the F/A-18E/F, which will carry all of its
weapons externally, the Joint Strike Fighter will likely carry at
least two air-to-ground and two air-to-air weapons internally.  This
configuration will allow the Joint Strike Fighter to maximize its
stealthiness and thus increase its survivability in the high-threat,
early stages of a conflict. 


      C/D HAS SPACE FOR GROWTH AND
      E/F MUST RESOLVE PAYLOAD
      PROBLEMS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.2

The Navy stated that by the mid-1990s, the C/D would not have space
required for new avionics systems.  GAO determined that the growth
deficiency has not occurred as projected and that the C/D does have
space for growth.  Furthermore, the use of miniaturization and
modularization in future upgrades to the C/D are expected to increase
the C/D's capacity to incorporate additional avionics systems. 

The Navy also stated that the F/A-18E/F would provide increased
payload capacity.  GAO found that projected F/A-18E/F payload
improvements may not occur.  The E/F, with its two additional wing
stations, will have increased payload capacity over the C/D. 
However, air flow problems around the fuselage and weapons stations,
as well as the proposed E/F weapons carrying configuration that
places the weapons closer to the center fuselage and closer to each
other than is the case with C/D models, may preclude the E/F from
safely deploying the larger payload.  Furthermore, a 1,150-pound
weight limitation on each of the two additional E/F stations will not
allow the E/F to carry any more of the heavy precision weapons than
the C/D can carry.  These weapons, which include the Harpoon,
Standoff Land Attack Missile, Laser Guided MK-84, Guided Bomb
Unit-24, and WALLEYE II, are needed to destroy hardened targets and
to maintain stand-off distances needed for improved survivability. 


      JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER IS
      PREDICTED TO BE LESS COSTLY
      AND MORE CAPABLE THAN THE
      F/A-18E/F
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.3

Contractor concept exploration and demonstration studies for the JAST
program indicated that an affordable Joint Strike Fighter can be
built that would be less expensive and more capable than the
F/A-18E/F.  The JAST office stated that affordability is a critical
characteristic for the Joint Strike Fighter.  Accordingly, it has
established a program objective that the Navy's version of the Joint
Strike Fighter will have a unit recurring flyaway cost of $32 million
to $40 million (fiscal year 1996 dollars) compared to $53 million for
the F/A-18E/F, depending on which contractor's concept is chosen. 
According to the JAST office's Joint Initial Requirements Document,
the Joint Strike Fighter cost objectives are based on projected
budget constraints and service needs.  The Navy version of the Joint
Strike Fighter is scheduled to begin delivery in 2007.  It is
expected to be a stand alone, stealthy, first-day-of-the-war,
survivable aircraft that will not be as dependent on other support
aircraft for its survivability as the F/A-18E/F is expected to be. 
The operational capabilities of the Navy's Joint Strike Fighter are
expected to be comparable to what DOD planned to achieve in the A/F-X
aircraft.  It is too soon to determine the extent to which the Joint
Strike Fighter cost and performance goals will be achieved. 


      F/A-18E/F WILL COST MORE
      THAN CURRENTLY ESTIMATED
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.4

The F/A-18E/F production estimate is based on a total program buy of
1,000 aircraft (660 for the Navy and 340 for the Marine Corps) and an
eventual annual production rate of 72 aircraft.  Flyaway and total
program costs vary with the total number of aircraft bought and the
annual production rate.  According to Marine Corps officials and the
Marine Corps Aviation Master Plan, the Corps does not intend to buy
any F/A-18E/Fs.  Therefore, the 1,000-aircraft buy is overstated by
340 aircraft. 

Furthermore, the Congress questioned whether an annual production
rate of 72 aircraft is realistic, and it directed the Navy to
calculate costs based on more realistic estimates of 18, 36, and 54
aircraft per year.  The Navy has not yet reported revised cost
estimates based on this change to production rates.  However, DOD
planning documents show that the annual production rate of the E/F
will be cut to 36 aircraft once the Joint Strike Fighter becomes
available.  GAO calculated that a reduction in the total F/A-18E/F
program buy to 660 aircraft and at an annual production rate of 36
aircraft would increase the aircraft's unit recurring flyaway cost
from $43.6 million to $53.2 million (fiscal year 1996 dollars). 

In fiscal year 1996 dollars, the F/A-18C/D has a unit recurring
flyaway cost of $28 million based on an annual production rate of 36
aircraft.  This cost difference in unit recurring flyaway cost would
result in a savings of almost $17 billion (fiscal year 1996 dollars)
if the Navy were to procure 660 F/A-18C/Ds rather than 660
F/A-18E/Fs.  GAO's estimated savings do not include the cost of C/D
upgrades, such as the larger 480-gallon external fuel tanks for
improved range or the strengthened landing gear to increase carrier
recovery payload.  However, GAO's estimated savings are conservative
because they also do not include planned E/F upgrades and are based
on recurring flyaway costs that do not include the other items that
make up total procurement costs.  (See app.  I for a discussion of
how unit costs are computed.) Additionally, GAO's estimated savings
do not include savings that would accrue from having fewer models of
F/A-18 aircraft in the inventory.  The cost benefits would result
from having common aircraft spare parts, simplified technical
specifications, and reduced support equipment variations, as well as
reductions in aircrew and maintenance training requirements. 


   RECOMMENDATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:5

Given the cost and the marginal improvements in operational
capabilities that the F/A-18E/F would provide, GAO recommends that
the Secretary of Defense reconsider the decision to produce the
F/A-18E/F aircraft and, instead, consider procuring additional
F/A-18C/Ds.  The number of F/A-18C/Ds that the Navy would ultimately
need to procure would depend upon when the next generation strike
fighter achieves operational capability and the number of those
aircraft the Navy decides to buy. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS AND GAO'S
   EVALUATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:6

In its comments on GAO's draft report, DOD said that it is convinced
that the fundamental reasons for developing the F/A-18E/F remain
valid.  Since DOD provided no data or information that GAO had not
acquired and analyzed during its review, GAO has not changed its
position that procuring the E/F is not the most cost-effective
approach to modernizing the Navy's tactical aircraft fleet.  GAO
recognizes that the E/F will provide some improvements over the C/D. 
However, the C/D's current capabilities are adequate to accomplish
its assigned missions.  Based on the marginal nature of the
improvements and the E/F's projected cost compared to the
alternatives discussed in the GAO report, GAO believes that its
recommendation that DOD reconsider its decision to produce the
F/A-18E/F aircraft and, instead, consider procuring additional C/D
aircraft until the next generation strike fighter becomes
operationally available represents sound fiscal planning.  GAO
formulated its position within the context of current budget
constraints, the decreased military threat environment, and
statements by DOD officials, such as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, that DOD's current plans to upgrade its tactical aircraft
fleet will not be affordable.  Additionally, as GAO pointed out, the
national military strategy directs that major new investments should
have substantial payoff.  GAO does not believe that procuring the
F/A-18E/F would meet this test. 

DOD's entire comments on the draft report and GAO's evaluation are
included in appendix III.  DOD's specific comments and GAO's
evaluation regarding the key areas that DOD has cited in justifying
the E/F--range, carrier recovery payload, and survivability--are
summarized in the following sections. 

Regarding the comparative range of the C/D and E/F, DOD stated that
the F/A-18E/F Early Operational Assessment verified that the E/F will
outperform the C/D in range by 40 to 50 percent.  Although GAO also
reported that the E/F will have a range greater than the C/D, its
analysis of the Early Operational Assessment showed that the E/F's
potential range improvements are not as great as DOD claimed.  The
specific range data are classified, but GAO's analysis showed that
the E/F's range advantage over the C/D is about half of DOD's claim. 
Given that the E/F will have some range advantage over the C/D, the
issue is whether the E/F's range advantage justifies buying the E/F
at a unit cost of about $53 million instead of buying the C/D at a
unit cost of about $28 million (1996 dollars for 660 aircraft).  In
that regard, the Secretary of the Navy has stated that about 85
percent of the service's targets are within 200 miles of shore and
are, therefore, within the C/D's range.\4 Additionally, other DOD
assets will be available to engage targets beyond the C/D's range. 
Consequently, GAO questions whether the E/F's potential range
advantage justifies the increased procurement cost. 

Regarding carrier recovery payload, according to DOD's comments,
payload of the F/A-18C is 6,281 pounds.  This shows that carrier
recovery payload has not declined to 5,785 pounds as the Navy had
projected.  Furthermore, a waiver currently permits the F/A-18C
aircraft in Bosnia to return to the carrier with more payload weight
than the Navy projected would be available.  However, DOD stated this
waiver increases risk and would adversely affect airframe structural
life--particularly in the future when heavier precision-guided
munitions are deployed on the aircraft.  DOD also stated that the C/D
landing gear would require strengthened metal to accommodate the
future munitions.  The Naval Air Systems Command officials told GAO
that the waiver to increase the C/D carrier landing weight has been
approved as a permanent change in carrier operations.  GAO's analysis
of E/F program management reviews showed that newer, stronger metals
will be used to produce E/F landing gear.  DOD did not comment on why
those metals could not also be used to strengthen the C/D landing
gear if greater maximum carrier landing weight is needed. 

Regarding survivability, DOD stated that the E/F has a balanced
design, of which radar cross-section reduction is only one part.  It
cited decreases in vulnerable areas and an integrated defensive
electronic warfare suite as additional survivability contributors. 
GAO noted that these additional survivability contributors were
evaluated as part of the E/F Early Operational Assessment.  The
specific results of the assessment are classified, but GAO's review
of the Early Operational Assessment report showed that development
issues associated with these contributors need to be resolved before
they will be operationally effective.  GAO is currently reviewing
these efforts and will be reporting on them separately. 
Additionally, comparisons of E/F and C/D survivability also need to
consider survivability enhancements that have been or are planned for
the C/D.  These include such things as the Enhanced Performance
Engine, the ALR-67 (V)3 Advanced Special Radar Warning Receiver, and
the use of standoff weapons.  DOD's comments did not address these
C/D survivability enhancements. 

DOD also stated in its comments that GAO's recommendation was
premature because the decision to procure the E/F will not be made
until the first quarter of calendar year 1997, when a Defense
Acquisition Board will convene for a low-rate initial production
(LRIP) milestone decision.  GAO does not believe that DOD should
delay the decision on whether to produce the E/F until after a LRIP
review.  GAO's concern is not whether the E/F will ultimately be able
to successfully meet its requirements, which would be a legitimate
consideration for an LRIP decision.  Rather, GAO believes that the
comparative operational and cost data for the F/A-18C/D and E/F that
it presents in its report provides an adequate basis for DOD and the
Congress to make an informed decision on whether procuring the E/F is
the most fiscally sound approach to providing the Navy with adequate
numbers of operationally effective tactical aircraft. 


--------------------
\4 See U.S.  Combat Air Power:  Reassessing Plans to Modernize
Interdiction Capabilities Could Save Billions (GAO/NSIAD-96-72, May
13, 1996). 


   MATTERS FOR CONGRESSIONAL
   CONSIDERATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:7

DOD requested funding in its fiscal year 1997 budget request to begin
procurement of the F/A-18E/F.  The Congress may wish to direct that
no funds may be obligated for procurement of the F/A-18E/F until it
has fully examined the alternatives to the E/F program.  In that
regard, the House National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
1997 (H.R.  3230,
sec.  220) directed such an examination, and a DOD deep strike study
is expected to be completed by the end of 1996.  Delaying the
authority to begin procuring the E/F would allow DOD to complete its
study and time for the Congress to assess the results of the DOD
study and the information in this report as it decides whether DOD
should be provided funding to proceed with the F/A-18E/F program. 


INTRODUCTION
============================================================ Chapter 1

The F/A-18E/F program is the successor to prior unsuccessful attempts
to modernize the Navy's tactical aviation fleet.  The Navy's initial
focus was on replacing its high-end\1 A-6 attack aircraft.  The
programs that were initiated in that regard--the A-12 and then the
A/F-X--were eventually canceled.  The Navy also initiated studies to
upgrade its multirole F/A-18 low-end\2 tactical aircraft.  The
upgraded F/A-18 effort was designated the F/A-18E/F.  At a projected
total program cost of $63.09 billion (fiscal year 1996
dollars)/$89.15 billion (then-year dollars)\3 the F/A-18E/F program
is one of the Department of Defense's (DOD) most costly aviation
programs. 


--------------------
\1 According to the February 1993 Report of the Defense Science Board
Task Force on Aircraft Assessment, high-end tactical aircraft are
used for the most demanding missions, such as theater air-superiority
and autonomous deep strike. 

\2 F/A-18A/B/C/D low-end multirole aircraft are used to handle the
less demanding low-end aspects of both air-to-air and air-to-ground
missions.  Low-end multirole aircraft have historically cost half as
much as high-end aircraft and because of this they have provided a
much more affordable means of achieving an adequate force structure. 

\3 Then-year dollar expenditures include estimated inflation for the
years in which the expenditures are expected to occur; constant
dollar expenditures, by holding purchasing power constant, eliminate
the effect of inflation.  The total program cost has recently been
reduced to $80.96 billion (then-year dollars) based on revised
economic assumptions that lowered annual inflation indexes from 3
percent to 2.2 percent. 


   NAVY TACTICAL AIRCRAFT
   MODERNIZATION EFFORTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:1

In January 1988, the Navy awarded a fixed-price incentive contract to
McDonnell Douglas Aerospace and General Dynamics Corporation to
develop the Advanced Tactical Aircraft, later designated the A-12. 
In June 1988, the Navy and McDonnell Douglas also completed a study,
known as Hornet 2000, to study upgrade options to the F/A-18 because
of the long development cycle of planned future fighter aircraft. 
The A-12 was to begin replacing A-6Es in the mid-1990s.  The Air
Force was also considering a version of the A-12 to replace its
high-end F-15E, and F-111 strike aircraft.  On January 7, 1991, after
making almost $2.7 billion (then-year dollars) in progress payments,
the Navy terminated the A-12 program because of technical and cost
reasons. 

Almost immediately after terminating the A-12 program, the Navy
requested funding to modernize the F/A-18.  A new joint Air Force and
Navy program--designated A-X and later A/F-X--was also initiated to
replace their high-end attack/strike aircraft with more advanced
stealthy aircraft.  The A/F-X was to begin fielding a more affordable
Navy A-6E replacement aircraft around 2008.  The A/F-X program office
estimated it would cost $22.8 billion (then-year dollars) to develop
the A/F-X and $50 million to $100 million to procure each aircraft. 

In 1993, DOD's Bottom-Up Review concluded that DOD had too many new
aircraft programs and that future defense budgets would not support
both the F/A-18E/F and the A/F-X program.  Therefore, in accordance
with the review's recommendations, the Secretary of Defense announced
that the A/F-X advanced tactical aviation program would be canceled,
the F/A-18E/F program would continue, and the services' efforts to
field a next generation joint strike fighter aircraft would be
pursued through a Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) program. 
The family of three common aircraft that is to ultimately result from
the JAST effort is called the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). 

The three JSF variants are intended to be (1) a first-day-of-the-
war, survivable strike fighter aircraft to complement the F/A-18E/F
for the Navy, (2) an advanced short-takeoff and vertical-landing
aircraft to replace the AV-8B and F/A-18 for the Marine Corps, and
(3) a multirole aircraft (primary air-to-ground) to replace the Air
Force F-16 and A-10 aircraft. 


   F/A-18 MODERNIZATION EFFORT
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:2

In May 1992, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition approved
the Navy's Milestone IV, Major Modification F/A-18E/F.  A $5.783
billion (fiscal year 1996 dollars)/$5.803 billion (then-year dollars)
F/A-18E/F development estimate was based on the combined cost to
develop the airframe and the engine and to pay other government
costs.  The airframe development contract was awarded to McDonnell
Douglas Aerospace, with Northrop Grumman Corporation as the prime
subcontractor.  McDonnell Douglas makes the forward fuselage, the
wings, and the aft wing/horizontal stabilizers.  Northrop Grumman
makes the forward center fuselage, the aft center and aft fuselage
sections, and the aft fuselage vertical tail sections.  The Navy has
contracted with General Electric Corporation to develop the
F/A-18E/F's engine.  The engine will be provided to McDonnell Douglas
Aerospace as a government-furnished item.  Most of the avionics
development costs for F/A-18E/F are not included in the E/F's
development cost estimate. 

As of December 31, 1995, the Navy had spent about $3.75 billion on
the development phase of the F/A-18E/F program.  Initial operational
capability of the F/A-18E/F is scheduled for 2000, and fielding of
the first operational carrier-based squadron is scheduled for 2003. 
Procurement of 1,000 aircraft for the Navy and the Marine Corps is
planned through 2015. 


   OBJECTIVES, SCOPE, AND
   METHODOLOGY
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:3

We initiated this review because of the magnitude of funds involved
in the F/A-18E/F program.  We included the F/A-18C/D, F/A-18E/F, and
JSF in our review to determine whether continued development of the
F/A-18E/F is the most cost-effective approach to modernizing the
Navy's tactical aircraft fleet. 

In conducting our work, we evaluated data used to justify the
F/A-18E/F program.  We reviewed various documents, including the
Hornet 2000 study; Navy documents such as acquisition reports; the
Operational Requirements Document; and related cost, engineering, and
test data supporting the decision to develop the F/A-18E/F.  This
data showed that the F/A-18E/F was approved to correct deficiencies
in current F/A-18s that the Navy said existed or were projected to
materialize.  The F/A-18 deficiencies cited were in range, carrier
recovery payload, and survivability.  Improvements in F/A-18E/F
growth space and payload over the F/A-18C/D were also cited by the
Navy in seeking E/F approval.  Our specific objectives were to

  -- determine whether the operational deficiencies in the F/A-18C/D
     that the Navy cited in justifying the E/F program have
     materialized and, if they have, the extent to which the
     F/A-18E/F would correct them;

  -- ascertain whether the F/A-18E/F will provide an appreciable
     increase in operational capability over the F/A-18C/D; and

  -- review the reliability of the cost estimates for the F/A-18E/F
     and compare those estimates with the costs of potential
     alternatives to the E/F program. 

To accomplish these objectives, we acquired data on the current
operational capabilities of the F/A-18s and the status of the
F/A-18E/F development effort from the Naval Air Systems Command
(NAVAIR) and the builders of the F/A-18s:  McDonnell Douglas
Aerospace, Northrop Grumman Corporation, and General Electric
Corporation. 

We obtained various studies, test results, performance data reports
and interviewed Navy and contractor officials.  Using these data, we
conducted various analyses and calculations, which are explained in
the appropriate sections of our report, to verify the deficiencies in
range, carrier recovery payload and survivability predicted for the
C/D, and to ascertain the probability that the E/F would correct
those deficiencies. 

To ascertain whether the F/A-18E/F will provide an appreciable
increase in operational capability over the F/A-18C/D we focused on
payload capacity and growth potential.  These areas were also cited
by the Navy in justifying the E/F program.  We interviewed Navy and
contractor officials and reviewed data from contractor studies,
system specifications, and Navy reports.  We evaluated the Navy's
projections that indicated that the C/D would have no growth
potential to accommodate future avionics requirements.  We also
compared the weapons capacity of the C/D with the potential capacity
of the E/F. 

Additional information concerning F/A-18C/D operational deficiencies
and the need for the E/F was obtained from documents and interviews
with officials from the Center for Naval Analysis and the Defense
Intelligence Agency. 

To evaluate the validity of the F/A-18E/F procurement cost estimates,
we examined the assumptions on which the estimates were based in
terms of numbers of aircraft to be procured and the number of
aircraft to be produced each year.  We made these analyses because
the Congress and DOD have expressed concerns in the past that the
Navy's assumptions were not realistic, given the probable limited
availability of annual funding.  To make this evaluation, we acquired
data and interviewed officials in the Naval Warfare's Aviation
Requirements and Aviation Inventory directorates, and the Office of
the Deputy Chief of Staff For Aviation within the Marine Corps.  We
obtained procurement cost data provided to the Congress in the annual
Selected Acquisition Report and aircraft inventory data used by the
Navy to calculate the E/F's projected procurement cost, which is
based on a combined Navy and Marine Corps buy of 1,000 aircraft. 
From this data, we developed and then compared F/A-18C/D and E/F
recurring flyaway cost projections. 

We also compared projected E/F operational and cost projections with
those of the JAST JSF.  This information was acquired from the JAST
program office, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (their Marine
Corps Short-Takeoff Vertical Landing Strike Fighter effort was
combined with JAST), and the contractor teams working on the JSF
effort.  The contractors are a consortium of McDonnell Douglas
Aerospace, Northrop Grumman Corporation, and British Aerospace;
Boeing Corporation; and Lockheed Martin Corporation.  We obtained the
contractors' and the JAST program office's estimates for the future
JSF and calculated the cost of continuing procurement of the
F/A-18C/D in lieu of proceeding with the F/A-18E/F program.  Our
methodology for calculating comparative costs for the C/D and E/F
programs is explained in detail in appendix I where we present those
cost comparisons. 

DOD provided written comments on a draft of this report.  The
comments are presented and evaluated in their entirety in appendix
III. 

We conducted our review from December 1994 through December 1995 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 


F/A-18E/F WILL PROVIDE MARGINAL
IMPROVEMENTS OVER F/A-18C/D
============================================================ Chapter 2

The F/A-18E/F is intended to replace current F/A-18C/D aircraft and
to perform Navy and Marine Corps fighter escort, strike, fleet air
defense, and close air support missions.  The current F/A-18C/Ds have
proven their value to the battle commander by providing the
capability to perform diverse missions and excellent payload
flexibility under dynamic wartime conditions.  However, the Navy
stated that in order to maintain a superior level of combat
performance into the 21st century, the F/A-18 will require increased
range, increased carrier recovery payload, and improved
survivability.  Our review determined that: 

  -- The Navy's F/A-18 strike range requirements can be met by either
     the F/A-18E/F or F/A-18C/Ds.  The increased range of the E/F is
     achieved at the expense of aerial combat performance, and even
     with increased range, each aircraft will still require aerial
     refueling for low-altitude missions against most targets. 

  -- F/A-18C carrier recovery payload deficiency has not occurred as
     the Navy predicted.  F/A-18Cs operating in support of Bosnian
     operations routinely return to the carrier with operational
     loads that exceed the Navy's stated carrier recovery payload
     capability. 

  -- Although survivability improvements are planned for the
     F/A-18E/F, the aircraft was not justified to counter threats
     that could not be countered with existing or improved
     F/A-18C/Ds.  Also, the effectiveness of a survivability
     improvement planned for the E/F is questionable and might better
     be attained at less cost with the next generation JSF. 


   INCREASED COMBAT RANGE WHILE
   MAINTAINING COMBAT PERFORMANCE
   SOUGHT FOR THE F/A-18E/F
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:1

The Navy is reporting that F/A-18E/F strike ranges are significantly
greater than the specifications require.  Those E/F strike range
projections are based on a high-altitude mission, which results in
increased fuel efficiency and range, whereas the E/F contract
stipulates specifications for a low-altitude strike mission. 
McDonnell Douglas Aerospace data show that the F/A-18C/D can also
achieve the E/F's low-altitude strike range specification if it
carried the larger external fuel tanks that are planned to be used on
the E/F.  Navy data also shows that the C/D, without the larger
external tanks, could exceed the target distances stipulated in the
E/F system specifications by flying the same high-altitude mission as
the E/F.  Also, we found that the design changes needed to achieve
the F/A-18E/F's range improvements will adversely affect its aerial
combat performance relative to the F/A-18C/D.  Should the Navy not be
able to fly the more fuel-efficient, high-altitude mission profiles,
both the E/F and the C/D will need aerial refueling to reach a
majority of targets in many of the likely wartime scenarios that
either aircraft would be employed. 


      F/A-18C/D'S STRIKE RANGE
      WILL EXCEED F/A-18E/F
      SPECIFICATIONS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:1.1

In justifying the F/A-18E/F, the Navy cited, among other factors, the
F/A-18C/D's inability to perform long-range unrefueled missions
against deep, high-value targets.  The Navy incorporated major
airframe modifications to the F/A-18E/F to increase its long-range
strike capability.  However, we found that the F/A-18C/D can achieve
greater ranges without making modifications to its airframe.  These
ranges will exceed the F/A-18E/F's low-altitude range specifications. 

F/A-18E/F specifications call for the aircraft to have a range of 390
nautical miles while performing low-altitude bombing with four
1,000-pound gravity bombs and using two 480-gallon external fuel
tanks.  This strike range is 65nm longer than the reported 325nm
low-altitude strike range of the F/A-18C/D using two smaller
330-gallon external fuel tanks and carrying four 1,000-pound gravity
bombs.  The F/A-18E/F will achieve its greater strike range primarily
from its greater internal fuel capacity and larger wings, and its
larger 480-gallon external fuel tanks.  In total, F/A-18E/Fs will
carry 980 gallons more fuel (450 gallons external/
530 gallons internal) than F/A-18C/Ds. 


         LARGER EXTERNAL FUEL
         TANKS WILL INCREASE
         F/A-18C/D'S RANGE
------------------------------------------------------ Chapter 2:1.1.1

The 480-gallon tank planned to be used on the F/A-18E/F uses new
filament-winding technology and a toughened resin system to produce a
lightweight external fuel tank.  It carries 45 percent more fuel than
the 330-gallon tank, but its diameter is only 3.1 inches greater and
it has the same empty weight as the 330-gallon tank.  F/A-18 E/F
program officials informed us that the 480-gallon tanks planned for
the E/F cannot be carried by the C/D.  Furthermore, current Navy
operational documents will not allow 480-gallon external tanks on the
C/Ds.  However, we have identified McDonnell Douglas and Navy studies
that state that the larger 480-gallon external fuel tanks can be used
on existing F/A-18C/D aircraft. 

The 1988 Hornet 2000 study, prepared by a team led by the Naval Air
System Command with the Center for Naval Analyses and McDonnell
Douglas assisting, addressed the issue of carrying larger 480-gallon
external fuel tanks on existing F/A-18C/Ds.  The study reports that
"Range/radius improvements can be achieved with larger external fuel
tanks.  The 480 gallon fuel tank rather than the 330 gallon can be
accommodated on inboard wing stations of all configurations,
including the baseline."

The Office of the Secretary of Defense's March 1992 F/A-18E/F
Technical Risk Assessment Team report also addressed the use of
480-gallon external fuel tanks on the E/F.  This report stated that

     "The 480-gallon fuel tank was initially designed for carrier
     use, but the production version has been modified for use on the
     Canadian CF-18.  Additional testing must be completed to
     requalify the fuel tank for carrier use and the aft pylon attach
     point will require strengthening for the carrier environment. 
     The modifications appear to be low risk."

A 1991 McDonnell Douglas report, "480 Gallon External Fuel Tank,"
concluded that the 480-gallon external fuel tank can be carried on
the F/A-18C/D inboard wing stations for carrier operations. 
According to the report, use of the 480-gallon tank on the C/D does
not require any structural changes to the aircraft and the 480-gallon
tank can be used with all weapons qualified for the F/A-18C/D.  The
report also stated that the new 480-gallon tank increases the
multimission capability and flexibility of the F/A-18 fighter.  As
shown in figure 2.1, the 480-gallon fuel tank extends the C/D strike
interdiction range flying low-altitude missions with two external
tanks from 325nm to 393nm.\1 This increased range exceeds the 390nm
specification range for the F/A-18E/F flying the low-altitude strike
mission profile. 

   Figure 2.1:  F/A-18C/D and
   F/A-18E/F Range Comparison: 
   Low-Altitude Mission Profile

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Source:  McDonnell Douglas and NAVAIR. 

Additionally, the McDonnell Douglas report stated that the 480-gallon
tanks increase the deck cycle\2 time of the F/A-18C/Ds configured for
a fighter escort mission, to over 3 hours.  Also, the report noted
that two 480-gallon tanks on the C/D effectively replace three
330-gallon tanks.  This gives the mission planner the option to have
the C/Ds carry additional weapons, sensors, or fuel on the centerline
station. 


--------------------
\1 According to the report, adding a 330-gallon external fuel tank to
the C/D's centerline station, with the two 480-gallon tank
configuration, would further increase its range to 437nm. 

\2 Deck cycle refers to the time required to launch and recover
aircraft.  The greater the cycle time, the more flexibility the
carrier commander has to safely conduct aircraft sorties. 


         FLYING E/F'S MISSION
         PROFILE WILL ALSO
         SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE
         THE C/D'S RANGE
------------------------------------------------------ Chapter 2:1.1.2

Recent Navy range predictions show that the F/A-18E/F is expected to
have a 683nm strike range, carrying two 2,000-pound precision-guided
bombs.  The Navy plans to achieve this significant range, a range
that approaches that planned for the canceled A/F-X program and the
Navy's JAST variant, by flying F/A-18E/F strike missions with the
larger 480-gallon tank and using a more fuel-efficient, survivable,
and lethal high-altitude mission profile rather than the specified
low-altitude profile. 

However, as shown in figure 2.2, the same Navy predictions show that
F/A-18C/D's strike ranges also increase significantly when flying at
high altitudes because of increased fuel efficiency at higher
altitudes.  According to Navy data, the F/A-18C/D flying at high
altitudes with its normal configuration of three 330-gallon external
fuel tanks has a range of 566nm--176nm more than the F/A-18E/F's
strike range specification. 

   Figure 2.2:  F/A-18C/D and
   F/A-18E/F Range Comparison: 
   High-Altitude Mission Profile

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Source:  NAVAIR. 


      F/A-18E/F RANGE INCREASE
      ACHIEVED AT THE EXPENSE OF
      THE AIRCRAFT'S AERIAL COMBAT
      PERFORMANCE
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:1.2

According to Navy and contractor documents, key factors in
determining combat performance of an aircraft are thrust, turn rate,
and acceleration.  The Navy stated that to maintain the combat
performance of the larger and heavier F/A-18E/F relative to the
F/A-18C/D, it would develop and incorporate new higher thrust
engines.  However, program data shows that the range improvements
sought by the larger and heavier F/A-18E/F will be achieved at the
expense of the aircraft's combat performance and that the F/A-18E/F's
aerial combat performance in key areas will be inferior to current
F/A-18C/Ds. 

The F/A-18E/F's larger fuel capacity, due to its larger size, allows
the aircraft to achieve greater range than the F/A-18C/Ds.  The
F/A-18E's empty weight without fuel and ordinance is about 6,100
pounds heavier than that of the C's.  The E is 4.3 feet longer than
the C, and its wing area is 25 percent greater.  The F/A-18E can
carry about 6,600 more pounds of fuel than the F/A-18C.  The
F414-GE-400 engine being developed for the E/F by General Electric is
designed to provide added thrust to compensate for the added weight
of the aircraft and fuel.  (See fig.  2.3.)

   Figure 2.3:  F/A-18 Aircraft

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Source:  McDonnell Douglas.

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

According to program documents, the F414-GE-400 engine generates
about 22,000 pounds of uninstalled thrust,\3 a 37.5-percent increase
over the F404-GE-400 engine used in the F/A-18A/B and some early
F/A-18C/D aircraft.  However, technical manuals show that the
F/A-18E/F's F414-GE-400 engine develops only 20,727 pounds of
uninstalled thrust.  Furthermore, the latest F/A-18C/Ds are equipped
with an enhanced version of the F404 engine, known as the F404-GE-402
Enhanced Performance Engine.  This new engine that was developed to
meet foreign buyers' requirements for better combat performance has
been adopted for Navy use.  The enhanced engine increased the
uninstalled thrust from 16,000 to 17,754 pounds.  Consequently, as
shown in table 2.1, the F/A-18E/F has about a 17-percent improvement
in uninstalled thrust over the C/Ds fitted with the F404-GE-402
Enhanced Performance Engine, rather than 37.5-percent reported in
program documents. 



                               Table 2.1
                
                 Comparison of F/A-18C/D and F/A-18E/F
                           Uninstalled Thrust

                           (Thrust in pounds)

                                                            Uninstalle
                                                                     d
Engine                                                        thrust\a
----------------------------------------------------------  ----------
F/A-18C/D                                                       17,754
 (F404-GE-402, enhanced performance engine)
F/A-18E/F
 (F414-GE-400 engine)                                           20,727
Difference                                                  17 percent
----------------------------------------------------------------------
\a Sea Level, Standard Day. 

Source:  NAVAIR. 

This limited improvement in uninstalled thrust, coupled with a much
heavier operationally loaded F/A-18E/F, means that the E/F will have
less air-to-air combat capability in its sustained turn rate,
maneuvering, and acceleration than F/A-18C/Ds with the enhanced
performance engines. 

Sustained turn rate,\4 maneuvering,\5 and acceleration contribute to
an aircraft's combat performance and survivability by increasing its
ability to maneuver in either offensive or defensive modes.  Navy
data\6 comparing the F/A-18C to the F/A-18E shows the following: 

  -- At sea level, the F/A-18C's sustained turn rate is 19.2 degrees
     per second, while the F/A-18E's sustained rate is 18 degrees per
     second.  The instantaneous bleed rate of the F/A-18C is 54 knots
     per second, whereas the F/A-18E will lose 65 knots per second in
     a turn. 

  -- At 15,000 feet, the F/A-18C's sustained turn rate is 12.3
     degrees per second, while the F/A-18E's sustained rate is 11.6
     degrees per second.  The instantaneous bleed rate of the F/A-18C
     is 62 knots per second, whereas the F/A-18E will lose 76 knots
     per second in a turn. 

Aircraft acceleration affects an aircraft's combat performance in a
number of ways, ranging from how quickly the aircraft can reach its
area of operation to its ability to close the gap in air-to-air
engagements or to evade air-to-ground missiles.  Navy data shows the
following: 

  -- At 5,000 feet at maximum thrust, the F/A-18C accelerates from
     0.8 Mach to 1.08 Mach\7 in 21 seconds, whereas the F/A-18E will
     take 52.8 seconds. 

  -- At 20,000 feet at maximum thrust, the F/A-18C accelerates from
     0.8 Mach to 1.2 Mach in 34.6 seconds, whereas the F/A-18E takes
     50.3 seconds. 

  -- At 35,000 feet at maximum thrust, the F/A-18C accelerates from
     0.8 Mach to 1.2 Mach in 55.80 seconds, whereas the F/A-18E takes
     64.85 seconds.  The F/A-18C accelerates from 0.8 Mach to 1.6
     Mach in 2 minutes
     12 seconds, whereas the F/A-18E takes 3 minutes and 4 seconds. 


--------------------
\3 Static, sea level, maximum power, standard day. 

\4 Sustained turn rate is the maximum rate of turn, measured in
degrees per second, the aircraft can sustain without losing speed. 

\5 Maneuvering is expressed as instantaneous bleed rate, which is a
measure of how quickly an aircraft loses speed during maneuvering. 

\6 Weapons load is 2 AIM-9 and 2 AIM-120 carried externally, no
external fuel tanks and 60 percent fuel remaining.  F/A-18E data are
Navy estimates. 

\7 At sea level, the maximum speed of the F/A-18 is limited and
cannot reach 1.2 Mach. 


      ALL F/A-18S WILL NEED AERIAL
      REFUELING TO ATTACK MOST
      TARGETS FOR LOW-ALTITUDE
      MISSIONS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:1.3

In justifying the low-altitude 390nm strike range specification for
the F/A-18E/F, the Navy cited the F/A-18C/D's shorter strike range
(325nm flying the low-altitude mission profiles) and its inability to
perform long-range unrefueled missions.  Current Navy modeling
projects that the F/A-18E/F will have a strike range of 465nm when
flying the specified low-altitude mission profile, or 75nm greater
than the 390nm development specification.  However, the Center for
Naval Analysis reported that with these ranges, the F/A-18E/F and
F/A-18C/D will both need aerial refueling to reach most targets in
two of the most likely wartime scenarios if high-altitude mission
profiles are not flown. 

A 1993 Center for Naval Analysis\8 report indicates that the E/F,
even with its range improvement over the F/A-18C/D, would require
in-flight refueling to reach a majority of targets in many of the
likely wartime scenarios in which the E/F would be employed.  The
Center's 1993 report was consistent with its 1989\9 report that
concluded that an upgrade to the F/A-18C/D (now identified as the
F/A-18E/F) would probably retain its need for in-flight refueling. 
Therefore, according to the 1989 report, the desire for additional
internal fuel should not be the driving force in the design of the
F/A-18E/F. 


--------------------
\8 Analysis of AX Design Range, Center for Naval Analysis (CRM 93-2,
Mar.  1993). 

\9 F/A-18 Upgrade Project, Center for Naval Analysis (CRM 88-74, Mar. 
1989). 


      F/A-18C CARRIER RECOVERY
      PAYLOAD DEFICIENCY HAS NOT
      OCCURRED AS PREDICTED
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:1.4

The Navy cited an anticipated deficiency in F/A-18C carrier recovery
payload capacity\10 as one of the primary reasons for developing the
F/A-18E/F.  In 1992, when seeking approval for the F/A-18E/F, the
Navy stated that F/A-18Cs procured in fiscal year 1988 had a total
carrier recovery payload capacity of 6,300 pounds.  However, it
projected that F/A-18C enhancements planned through the fiscal year
1993 procurement (delivery in fiscal year 1995)(Lot XVII) would
increase the aircraft's operating weight and decrease its total
carrier recovery capacity to
5,785 pounds.  It said this condition would constrain the ability of
the carrier's air wing to fulfill its full spectrum of training
requirements--especially under the worse case scenario of conducting
night training and carrying greater amounts of reserve fuel needed
for a divert field landing. 

As shown in table 2.2, the F/A-18C carrier recovery payload capacity
is substantially greater than the Navy projected it would be and, in
fact, is greater than when the F/A-18C was introduced into the fleet
in late 1987. 



                               Table 2.2
                
                 Projected and Current Carrier Recovery
                 Payload Capacity for Fiscal Year 1993
                          Procurement F/A-18Cs

                          (Capacity in pounds)


                                         Projected
                                capacity\a (Navy's    Current capacity
                                         estimate)   (our calculation)
------------------------------  ------------------  ------------------
Maximum carrier landing weight              33,000              34,000
Total operating weight                     -27,215             -26,987
======================================================================
Total carrier recovery payload             5,785\b             7,013\b
----------------------------------------------------------------------
\a Based on Navy's 1992 projection of mid-1990's capacity. 

\b Includes 5,000 pounds of reserve fuel. 

As indicated in table 2.2, current F/A-18Cs have 7,013 pounds of
carrier recovery payload capacity, rather than the 5,785 pounds the
Navy predicted.  The higher carrier recovery payload capacity
calculation is the result of

  -- the Navy, in 1994, increasing the F/A-18C's maximum allowable
     carrier landing weight from 33,000 to 34,000 pounds, thereby
     adding 1,000 pounds to the payload and

  -- (1) replacement of the canceled Advanced Self Protection Jammer
     with a lighter system, the ALQ-126 and (2) a prior overestimate
     of weight needed for contingencies. 

The F/A-18C's better than projected carrier recovery payload is being
demonstrated during actual flight experience of the F/A-18Cs flying
military operations in Bosnia.  (See fig.  2.4.)

   Figure 2.4:  F/A-18C Landing on
   a Carrier During Bosnia
   Operations

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Source:  Reuters/Archive
   Photos.

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

According to data provided by the F/A-18 program office, as shown in
table 2.3, F/A-18Cs routinely bring back 7,156 pounds of recovery
payload. 



                               Table 2.3
                
                 Routine Payload Recovery for F/A-18Cs
                          Operating in Bosnia

                           (Weight in pounds)

Item                                                            Weight
--------------------------------------------------------------  ------
1 High-speed anti-radiation missile                                778
 2 Guided bomb unit-12s                                          1,220
 Forward looking infrared radar pod                                371
 2 AIM-9 Sidewinders                                               390
 3 External tanks                                                  897
Total munitions                                                  3,656
 Fuel reserve                                                    3,500
======================================================================
Total carrier recovery payload                                   7,156
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Navy achieved this recovery payload by increasing the F/A-18C's
maximum landing weight to 34,000 pounds and decreasing the reserve
fuel level from 5,000 to 3,500 pounds. 

The Navy has stated that although it is currently able to bring back
a full operational load of existing weapons, it will not be able to
bring back the heavier, more expensive precision-guided munitions
planned for the future.  Because the Navy has demonstrated the
ability to manage the recovery payload of the F/A-18C by increasing
the maximum landing weight of the F/A-18C by 1,000 pounds for Bosnian
operations, we attempted to determine whether the maximum landing
weight could be further increased to compensate for future munitions. 
Navy program officials did not know whether the maximum landing
weight could be increased further; however, the Hornet 2000 Technical
Report states that the carrier landing design gross weight of the
F/A-18C can be increased to 37,000 pounds with landing gear and other
changes, thereby providing an additional 3,000 pounds of recovery
payload.  Adding this weight to the total carrier recovery payload
shown in table 2.2 would result in a total recovery payload of 10,013
pounds for the F/A-18C.  That amount of carrier payload recovery for
the F/A-18C is greater than the 9,000 pounds of payload sought for
the F/A-18E/F. 


--------------------
\10 Carrier recovery payload is defined as the amount of fuel,
weapons, and external equipment (such as navigation and targeting
pods) that an aircraft can carry when landing on a carrier.  It is
the computed difference between maximum landing weight and the
aircraft operating weight. 


   F/A-18E/F SURVIVABILITY
   IMPROVEMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2

The Navy is seeking to improve F/A-18E/F survivability compared to
the current F/A-18C/D by reducing its detectability and the
probability of it being destroyed.  Although survivability
improvements for the F/A-18E/F are planned, the F/A-18E/F was not
justified to counter a particular military threat that could not be
met with current F/A-18C/Ds or F/A-18C/Ds that will be enhanced by
additional planned survivability features.  In addition, the
effectiveness of an F/A-18E/F survivability improvement is
questionable.  Moreover, the JSF represents an alternative,
affordable next generation aircraft that is projected to surpass the
survivability of the F/A-18E/F at less cost. 


      F/A-18E/F SURVIVABILITY
      INCREASES NOT DRIVEN BY
      F/A-18C/D SURVIVABILITY
      DEFICIENCY
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2.1

In August 1993, we reported\11 that the F/A-18E/F was not justified
to counter a particular military threat that could not be met with
current capabilities.  In responding to our report, the Under
Secretary of Defense for Acquisition disagreed with our conclusion
that the F/A-18E/F decision was not threat based.  He referred to the
April 1993 "Report to Congress on Fixed-Wing Tactical Aviation
Modernization," which he stated included intelligence data on
projected threats in the post-year 2000 period, which require
improvements in the survivability of tactical fixed-wing aircraft. 
He stated that these improvements were part of the process for
approving the modification of the F/A-18C/D to the F/A-18E/F.  We
reviewed this report and found that although this study discussed
future threats, it was in system-to-system engagements, not as part
of a force package where other assets are used to increase aircraft
survivability.  According to Navy officials, the F/A-18E/F will be
operated as part of a force package--just as the F/A-18C/D currently
operates.  These aircraft will not operate alone as the stealthy F-22
and the Navy's JSF are planned to be.  (Chapter 4 discusses the JSF
and its planned survivability features.)

The relative importance of a threat-based justification for the E/F
is also supported by a March 24, 1992, memorandum from the Vice
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Under Secretary of
Defense for Acquisition.  It said that the main consideration in the
timing of buying the F/A-18E/F was not an emerging threat.  This is
consistent with statements contained in the May 1992 F/A-18E/F Cost
and Operational Effectiveness Analysis Summary. 

According to the summary, the Navy's current F/A-18 warfighting
capability was expected to be adequate in dealing with the projected
threat beyond the turn of the century.  Further, the key components
of potential threats have stabilized in response to East European
political economic shifts.  Also, the Commonwealth of Independent
States' emphasis on development and deployment of advanced air,
ground, and naval weapons had greatly declined, particularly the
anti-air warfare threat. 


--------------------
\11 Naval Aviation:  Consider All Alternatives Before Proceeding With
the F/A-18E/F (GAO/NSIAD-93-144, Aug.  27, 1993). 


      ADDITIONAL FEATURES PLANNED
      TO ENHANCE F/A-18C/D
      SURVIVABILITY
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2.2

According to the May 1992 F/A-18E/F Acquisition Plan, the aircraft's
weapon system architecture was to be essentially the same as the
F/A-18C/D Night Attack aircraft.  An October 1995 F/A-18 program
brief and a more recent Naval Intelligence study on strike warfare
state that the F/A-18C is survivable against all current air-to-air
threats.  The October brief further states that the F/A-18C Night
Strike Hornet (compared with previous F/A-18s) increased the exchange
rate against the MiG-29 by a factor of 4, increased survivability
against surface threats, and is 23 percent more effective in strike
warfare. 

Additional improvements have subsequently been made or are planned
for the F/A-18C/D to enhance its survivability.  For example,
according to Navy program documents, improvements were made to reduce
its radar detectability.  Although these improvements are classified
and cannot be discussed in this report, Navy and contractor officials
agreed that the radar detectability has been reduced.  Other
improvements to the F/A-18C/D include the following: 

  -- The F404-GE-402 Enhanced Performance Engine to provide increased
     combat performance and, therefore, increased survivability. 

  -- The ALR-67(V)3 Advanced Special Warning Receiver and the ALE-47
     Countermeasures Dispensing System (chaff and flares) will be
     installed on new F/A-18C/Ds to alert the aircrew of potential
     threats and automatically deploy countermeasures, thereby
     decreasing the probability of the aircraft being hit should it
     be fired on. 

  -- Standoff weapons, such as the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW),
     Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response, improved
     Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), and AIM-9X to
     be installed on the F/A-18C/D will improve its standoff range
     from the threat and thus further improve its survivability. 


      F/A-18E/F SURVIVABILITY
      IMPROVEMENTS ARE
      QUESTIONABLE
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2.3

The Navy listed reduced aircraft radar signature as an objective and
key measure of aircraft survivability when discussing F/A-18E/F
survivability improvements.  Navy and McDonnell Douglas officials
said they have significantly reduced the F/A-18E/F's frontal radar
signature compared to the C/D model.  The specifics of how radar
signature reduction is achieved are classified.  However, according
to Center for Naval Analysis and Navy officials, the F/A-18E/F's
reduced radar signature only helps it penetrate slightly deeper than
the F/A-18C/D into an integrated defensive system before being
detected. 

When Navy officials referred to the F/A-18E/F's reduced frontal radar
signature, they cite low observability improvements made to the
aircraft structure.  However, because the F/A-18E/F will be carrying
weapons and fuel externally, it will diminish the radar signature
reduction improvements derived from the structural design of the
aircraft.  The need to carry weapons and fuel internally to maintain
an aircraft's low observability is consistent with low observability
or stealthy aircraft designs, such as the F-117, the A-12, the A/F-X,
the F-22, and the B-2, all designed to carry fuel and weapons
internally. 

A 1994 Lockheed Corporation briefing document entitled "The Value of
Stealth," discussed the value of frontal radar signature reduction
and the impact on detection ranges when such things as pylons,
munitions, and fuel tanks are carried externally.  The brief stated
that: 

     "While very beneficial in a one-on-one engagement, nose-on to
     the threat, treatments to enhance the survivability of a
     conventional aircraft by reducing the forward aspect observable
     level is not sufficient to successfully penetrate a typical
     threat environment.  The long detection and engagement range of
     modern threat systems against the side sector of an Enhanced
     Conventional Aircraft will significantly decrease the likelihood
     of a successful mission."

     "Further, the addition of external stores to enable an Enhanced
     Conventional Aircraft to accomplish a military objective, may
     well eliminate much of what is gained in reduced threat
     capability, even in the nose region."

This is further validated by the current JAST program commitment to
designing its JSF to carry its weapons internally because carrying
weapons externally does not meet the Navy's reduced signature needs
for first day survivability.  The JAST office concluded that the
treatment of external equipment, to limit their negative effect on
radar signature reduction, would be expensive and would have a
negative effect on aircraft performance, supportability, and
deployability.  In summary, the JAST office has concluded that the
most cost-effective and overall operational beneficial solution if
low observability is required, appears to be carrying weapons and
other equipment internally. 

In December 1995, the F/A-18E/F program office asked McDonnell
Douglas to define the work necessary to develop simple, affordable,
low-observable treatments for certain equipment that will be carried
externally on the E/F aircraft.  The program office stated that the
E/F program has produced a low-observable aircraft, but that
low-observable externally carried equipment and weapons were outside
the scope of the E/F program.  The program office stated that this
equipment, when installed on the E/F with low-observable compatible
weapons, would be necessary to yield a low-observable weapon system. 


F/A-18C/D SPACE DEFICIENCY HAS NOT
OCCURRED AND F/A-18E/F PAYLOAD
PROBLEMS MUST BE RESOLVED
============================================================ Chapter 3

In addition to the operational capability improvements discussed in
the preceding chapter, the Navy also stated that the E/F (1) was
needed to provide critically needed space for avionics growth and (2)
with its two additional weapons stations, would be more lethal. 
However, our review indicates that

  -- the decline in avionics growth space has not occurred as
     predicted, and

  -- weight limitations, problems when weapons are released from the
     aircraft, and the limited increase in weapons payload associated
     with the new weapons stations raises concerns about how much
     increased lethality the E/F will have. 


   GROWTH SPACE DEFICIENCY HAS NOT
   OCCURRED AS PREDICTED
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:1

In justifying the need for the F/A-18E/F, the Navy stated that the
additional space to be provided by the F/A-18E/F was critically
needed because by the mid-1990s, the F/A-18C/Ds would not have space
to accommodate some additional new weapons and systems under
development without removing an existing capability.  However, as
previously discussed, an increased threat is not driving decisions to
add new systems.  Furthermore, the growth space deficiency
anticipated for the F/A-18C/D has not occurred as predicted. 

According to 1992 Navy predictions, by fiscal year 1996, the ongoing
program to upgrade the F/A-18C/D's avionics would result in an
aircraft with only 0.2 cubic feet of space available for future
growth.  However, in 1995, McDonnell Douglas representatives
indicated that the F/A-18C had at least 5.3 cubic feet of space
available for system growth.  This additional space is available from
the following two sources: 

  -- Replacing the F/A-18C/D's ammunition drum with a linear linkless
     feed system would provide 4 cubic feet of additional space in
     the gun bay. 

  -- The right leading edge extension on the F/A-18C, which is an
     extension of the frontal aspect of the wing, has 1.3 cubic feet
     of space available for growth. 

Furthermore, indications are that technological advancements will
result in additional avionics growth space.  The effect of these
advancements, which include such things as miniaturization,
modularity, and consolidation, are indicated in some upgraded
avionics systems employed on the F/A-18C/D.  We reviewed the changes
scheduled for the F/A-18C/D between fiscal years 1992 and 1996 and
identified seven upgrade replacement systems that would be used in
the latest versions of the F/A-18C/D and the F/A-18E/F.  We found
that because of the reduced size of modern avionics systems, in
total, the new systems provided 3 cubic feet of additional space and
reduced the total avionics systems' weight by about 114 pounds. 
Table 3.1 shows the details of this calculation. 



                                    Table 3.1
                     
                     Effect of Replacing Avionics Systems on
                                the F/A-18 Hornet

                                                                          Volume
                                 Replacement                              (cubic
Equipment            Old system  system            Weight (pounds)         feet)
-------------------  ----------  --------------  -------------------  ----------
Radar                APG-65      APG-73                 -12.0              -0.90

Communication        ARC-182     ARC-210 (2)            +5.6               +0.12
receiver/            (2)
transmitter

Chaff                AN/ALE-39   AN/ALE-47              +22.7              -0.14
countermeasures set

Missile command      AWG-25      AWG-25 MOD             -11.0              +0.01
launch computer                  Downsized HARM

Weapon station       SMS         SMS (upgrade)          -71.9              -1.20
management system

Countermeasures      ALR-        ALR-67(V)3             -8.4               -0.30
receiving set        67(V)2

Global positioning   MAGR        EGI Combined           -38.6              -0.63
system                           GPS/INS

Inertial navigation  ASN-139A
system

================================================================================
Total                                                  -114.0               -3.0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source:  McDonnell Douglas. 

The Navy also contends that the availability for growth on the
F/A-18C/D is not possible due to the lack of sufficient power and
cooling capability.  However, according to McDonnell Douglas
engineering representatives, the F/A-18C/D's power and cooling needs
have not been validated through an actual test.  Rather, the
statements that the C/D has no more growth capability are based on
analysis using estimated and outdated data.  Additionally, the Hornet
2000 study suggested options to increase power and cooling capacity
within the current space/volume of the baseline F/A-18 aircraft.  To
increase the aircraft's power capacity, the report suggested

  -- a new generator system with more than a 30-percent increase in
     power capacity and/or

  -- a monitored bus system capable of shedding selected loads when
     one generator becomes inoperative. 

To increase the F/A-18C/D's cooling capacity, the Hornet 2000 report
stated that the air cooling system could be modified to increase
capacity by 47 percent. 


   F/A-18E/F HAS WEAPONS RELEASE
   PROBLEMS AND PROVIDES A
   MARGINAL INCREASE IN LETHALITY
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:2

The F/A-18E/F is designed to have more payload capacity than current
F/A-18C/Ds as a result of adding two new wing weapon
stations--referred to as the outboard weapons stations.  However,
unless the current problems when weapons are released from the
aircraft are resolved, the types and amounts of external weapons that
the E/F can carry may be restricted.  Also, while the E/F will
provide a marginal increase in air-to-air capability, it will not
increase its ability to carry the heavier air-to-ground weapons that
are capable of hitting fixed-targets and mobile hard targets and the
heavier stand-off weapons that will be used to increase aircraft
survivability. 


      WEAPONS RELEASE PROBLEMS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:2.1

As illustrated in figures 3.1 and 3.2, airframe modifications, such
as larger geometrically shaped engine inlets and additional weapon
stations, have reduced the critical distance between several
F/A-18E/F weapon stations. 

   Figure 3.1:  F/A-18C/D Weapon
   Stations

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Source:  NAVAIR.

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Figure 3.2:  F/A-18E/F Weapon
   Stations

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Source:  NAVAIR.

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

A NAVAIR representative stated that it has been estimated that the
distance between the inboard weapon stations and the engine inlet
stations on the E/F has been reduced by about 5 inches compared to
the C/D.  The distance between the new outboard (stations 2 and 10)
and mid-board stations (stations 3 and 9) is smaller than between the
mid-board (stations 3 and 9) and inboard stations (stations 4 and 8),
35 inches versus 46 inches, respectively. 

The space reduction adversely affects the E/F's capabilities.  For
example, wind tunnel tests show that an external 480-gallon fuel tank
or a MK-84 2,000-pound bomb, carried on the inboard station, will hit
the side of the aircraft's fuselage or make contact with other
weapons when released.  Additionally, according to the
representative, the limited distance between the new outboard and
mid-board stations, coupled with outboard pylons that are shorter and
closer to the wing, will cause problems when releasing large, finned
weapons, such as the High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM). 

F/A-18E/F airframe changes have also increased adverse airflows that
exacerbate these problems.  Wind tunnel testing shows that the
F/A-18E/F is experiencing increased yaw and pitch motion\1 of its
external equipment.  The increased yaw motion is the result of
increased air outflow at the nose of a weapon and increased inflow at
the tail of a weapon, causing the tail of the weapon to make contact
with the aircraft.  Similarly, the increased pitching results from
the air sweeping over the nose of a store in a downward direction
while an upward airflow causes the tail of the store to make contact
with the aircraft. 

The Navy and McDonnell Douglas are studying a number of airframe
fixes to correct the airflow problem.  They are also studying options
that place tactical restrictions on weapon deployments.  These
options include reducing the number of weapons the E/F carries and
reducing the speed the aircraft is flying when the weapons are
released. 


--------------------
\1 Yaw is the side-to-side movement, and pitch is the up-and-down
movement of the nose and tail of external equipment. 


      IMPROVEMENTS IN F/A-18E/F
      WEAPONS CARRYING CAPACITY
      ARE MARGINAL
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:2.2

Our analysis showed that the F/A-18E/F will provide a limited
increase in payload over the C/D model.  In the air-to-air role, as
shown in table 3.2, the F/A-18E/F will have a two-missile advantage
over the F/A-18C/D. 

The F/A-18E/F's new outboard stations are limited to carrying weapons
weighing no more than 1,150 pounds per station.  In the air-to-ground
role, this precludes the F/A-18E/F from carrying a number of heavy
precision-guided munitions such as the Harpoon, Standoff Land Attack
Missile, Laser Guided MK-84, Guided Bomb Unit-24, and WALLEYE II that
weigh more than the weapon station weight limit.  Consequently,
because of these limitations, the F/A-18E/F will carry the same
number of these heavier precision-guided munitions as the F/A-18C/D. 



                    Table 3.2 Comparison of Selected
                Payloads for the F/A-18E/F and F/A-18C/
                                   D

                                                  F/A-    F/A-  Differ
Weapon                                           18C/D   18E/F    ence
----------------------------------------------  ------  ------  ------
AIM-120 AMRAAM                                       6       8      +2
AIM-9 Sidewinder                                     6       8      +2
AIM-7 Sparrow                                        4       6      +2
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Source:  McDonnell Douglas and NAVAIR. 


THE JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER IS
PREDICTED TO BE MORE AFFORDABLE
AND MORE CAPABLE THAN THE
F/A-18E/F
============================================================ Chapter 4

The JAST program office is developing technology for a family of
affordable next generation JSF aircraft for the Air Force, Marine
Corps, and Navy.  (See app.  II for a discussion of JAST program
objectives and approach.) The Navy plans to procure 300 JSFs and use
them as a stand alone, first-day survivable (stealthy) complement to
the F/A-18E/F.  The first Navy JSF aircraft is scheduled to be
delivered in 2007.  On the basis of contractor trade studies and a
recent Naval Intelligence assessment, JSF is projected to have an
overall combat effectiveness greater than the F/A-18E/F.  JSF is also
projected to have a lower unit flyaway cost than the E/F. 


   JSF IS PREDICTED TO COST LESS
   AND BE MORE CAPABLE THAN THE
   F/A-18E/F
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:1

Concept exploration and development trades studies from three major
potential aircraft production contractors--Boeing Corporation;
Lockheed Martin Corporation; and a consortium of McDonnell Douglas
Aerospace, Northrop Grumman, and British Aerospace
Corporations--indicated that an affordable family of stealthy strike
aircraft could be built on a single production line with a high
degree of parts and cost commonality.
(See fig.  4.1 for JAST concept.) According to the JAST Joint Initial
Requirements Document, the recurring flyaway cost of the Navy variant
will range from $33 million to $40 million (in fiscal year 1996
dollars), depending on which contractor design is chosen.  The JAST
office projects that the Navy's JSF variant will have operational
capabilities, especially range and survivability, that will be
superior to the F/A-18E/F.  It is too soon to determine the extent to
which the JSF cost and performance goals will be achieved. 

   Figure 4.1:  JSF Family of
   Three Aircraft

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Source:  JSF Program Office.

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)


      JSF PREDICTED TO COST LESS
      THAN THE F/A-18E/F
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:1.1

The driving focus of JAST is affordability.  Contractor studies
indicate that JAST has the potential to reduce total life-cycle cost
by approximately 40 percent.  Life-cycle cost is made up of research
and development costs, production costs, and operations and support
costs.  According to a McDonnell Douglas study, their JAST proposal
would have a flyaway cost 14 percent lower than the F/A-18E/F.  To
arrive at these goals, the contractor studies concluded that the
family of aircraft would have to contain such features as: 

  -- a single, common engine;

  -- use of advanced avionics and exploitation of off-board sensors;

  -- advanced diagnostics to reduce supportability costs;

  -- maximum commonality to include a common fuselage for all service
     variants that could be built on a common production line; and

  -- affordable requirements. 

According to the participating contractors and the JAST program
office, tri-service commonality is the key factor in achieving JSF
affordability goals, and if this commonality is to occur, the
services must compromise on operational needs. 

The Navy's JSF variant is expected to be the most costly of the three
service variants due in part to carrier suitability features and the
greater operational capability in range and internal payload proposed
for the Navy's variant.  Current unit recurring flyaway cost
objectives for the Navy variant range between $33 million and $40
million (fiscal year 1996 dollars), based on a total buy of 2,816
aircraft for the three services.  This compares to $53 million per
unit recurring flyaway (fiscal year 1996 dollars) for the F/A-18E/F
based on total procurement of 660 E/F's at
36 per year.  According to the JAST office's Joint Initial
Requirements Document, the JSF cost objectives are based on projected
budget constraints and service needs. 

The JAST program office projects that significant life-cycle savings
for JSF are achievable through implementation of new acquisition
processes, technologies, manufacturing processes, and maintenance
processes being developed as part of the JAST program.  Depending on
the degree of commonality between the service variants and the
ability to implement other cost-saving measures, the JAST office
projects the total life-cycle cost could be as much as 55-percent
less than if it used traditional acquisition and production
processes. 


      JSF PREDICTED TO HAVE BETTER
      PERFORMANCE THAN THE
      F/A-18E/F
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:1.2

The participating contractors presented the results of their concept
development studies to the JAST office and the Under Secretary of
Defense (Acquisitions and Technology) in August 1995.  The
presentations outlined the latest design capabilities and projected
costs for each of the services' JSF designs.  The JSF is expected to
have an overall combat effectiveness greater than any projected
threat and greater than the F/A-18E/F.  The Navy's JSF variant is
also expected to have longer ranges than the F/A-18E/F to attack
high-value targets, such as command and control bunkers, without
using external tanks or tanking. 

Unlike the F/A-18E/F, which will carry all of its weapons externally,
the Navy's JSF variant will carry at least two air-to-ground and two
air-to-air weapons internally.  By carrying its weapons internally,
the JSF will maximize its stealthiness and thus increase its
survivability in the high threat early stages of a conflict. 

The Navy expects that its JSF variant will have the capability to go
into high-threat environments without accompanying electronic warfare
support aircraft in the first day or early phase of a conflict and be
survivable.  For example, the JSF would have the capability to attack
these high-threat targets without jamming support from EA-6B aircraft
that the F/A-18E/F would need to be survivable against integrated air
defense systems and sophisticated aircraft that would still be
operating during the early stages of a conflict. 

Combat range improvement was a primary objective of the F/A-18E/F
program.  JAST program contractor studies indicated that the Navy
variant would have significantly greater range than the F/A-18E/F
using internal fuel only and even greater range after the enemy
threat is reduced and the aircraft can use external fuel tanks. 


F/A-18E/F WILL COST MORE TO
PROCURE THAN CURRENTLY ESTIMATED
============================================================ Chapter 5

The potential cost of the F/A-18E/F aircraft has been a source of
debate among the Congress, DOD, and the Navy for many years, starting
before the program was formally approved.  Our review indicated that
the Navy's cost estimates to procure the F/A-18E/F are still
questionable. 

The $43.6 million (fiscal year 1996 dollars) unit recurring flyaway
cost\1 estimate for the F/A-18E/F is understated.  The estimate is
based on a 1,000-aircraft total buy that is overstated by at least
one-third because the Marine Corps does not plan to buy the E/F and
an annual production rate that the Congress has stated is probably
not possible due to funding limitations.  Reducing the total buy and
annual production rate will increase the unit recurring flyaway cost
of the F/A-18E/F from $43.6 to $53.2 million (fiscal year 1996
dollars). 


--------------------
\1 We used recurring flyaway costs because DOD has consistently
maintained that these costs are the most appropriate to compare the
costs of different aircraft.  Recurring flyaway costs include costs
related to the production of the basic aircraft and do not include
all procurement costs.  Appendix I contains a more detailed
discussion of what makes up various costs and how they are
calculated. 


   DOD AND CONGRESSIONAL CONCERNS
   ABOUT F/A-18E/F PROGRAM COST
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5:1

In May 1992, the Office of the Secretary of Defense approved the
Navy's request that the F/A-18E/F be approved as a Milestone IV,
Major Modification program, even though some Defense Acquisition
Board participants had the following concerns about the program: 

  -- E/F development cost projections had increased from $4.5 billion
     to $5.8 billion (then-year dollars);

  -- the unit cost of the E/F was estimated to be 65 percent greater
     than F/A-18C/D unit cost;

  -- the projected development cost of $5.8 billion (then-year
     dollars) was underfunded by as much as $1 billion;

  -- the cost of E/F pre-planned product improvements are not
     included in either development or production estimates; and

  -- the E/F was considered an upgrade to the F/A-18C/D rather than a
     new start, even though the E/F airframe was projected to be only
     15-percent common to the C/D. 

In evaluating the fiscal year 1993 DOD budget request, the Congress
addressed its F/A-18E/F concerns and established a number of fiscal
limits on the program.  The $5.783 billion (fiscal year 1996
dollars)/$5.803 billion (then-year dollars) F/A-18E/F development
estimate, presented to the Defense Acquisition Board, was established
as a funding ceiling for development costs.  Also, the Congress
stated that F/A-18E/F unit flyaway costs should be no greater than
125 percent of the F/A-18C/D's unit flyaway cost. 

Congressional concern about E/F unit cost projections was based in
part on the high annual production rate that the Navy used in
arriving at its per unit procurement estimates.  The Navy projected
that beginning in 2007, and continuing through 2015, it would procure
72 F/A-18E/Fs per year.  The Congress believed this was unrealistic
and directed that DOD calculate a range of unit costs based on
production rates of 18, 36, and 54 aircraft per year.  According to
program officials, they are not required to report revised cost
estimates based on the change to production rates until an early
operational assessment is completed in the spring of 1996. 


   UNIT ACQUISITION COSTS WILL BE
   GREATER THAN PROJECTED
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5:2

DOD's F/A-18E/F unit recurring flyaway cost estimate is $43.6 million
(fiscal year 1996 dollars).  This cost is understated because

  -- the total F/A-18E/F procurement levels and annual production
     rates that are essential for predicting acquisition unit costs
     are overstated and

  -- contract estimates for initial production aircraft are higher
     than projected. 


      PROCUREMENT LEVELS AND
      PRODUCTION RATES
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5:2.1

In calculating the F/A-18E/F unit acquisition costs, the Navy assumed
it would procure 1,000 aircraft from 1997 through 2015--
approximately 660 for the Navy and 340 for the Marine Corps at a high
annual production rate of 72 aircraft.  However, the Marine Corps
does not plan to purchase any F/A-18E/Fs, and indications are that
once the Navy's JAST variant becomes available fewer F/A-18E/Fs will
be procured annually. 

The Marine Corps Aviation Plan and the Marine Corps Deputy Chief of
Staff for Aviation in a 1994 memorandum and in 1995 testimony\2

before the Congress stated that the Corps plans to "neck down" to one
aircraft in the future.  It plans to replace all of its current
F/A-18C/D and AV-8B aircraft with the Advanced Short-Takeoff and
Vertical-Landing aircraft now under management of the JAST program. 
Because the Marine Corps does not plan to procure any
F/A-18E/Fs--data from a Navy's program cost analysis report and
discussions with NAVAIR cost officials and confirmed by the Marine
Corps identifies 340 aircraft as the programmed Marine Corps buy--the
total F/A-18E/F buy would be reduced from 1,000 to 660 aircraft.  The
likelihood that fewer F/A-18E/Fs will be procured is possible once
the JSF, projected to be more capable and less costly than the E/F,
becomes available around 2007. 

Additionally, the E/F unit cost is affected by a lower-than-projected
annual production rate.  The Navy's unit cost calculations assumed an
annual peak production rate of 72 aircraft for 8 years, representing
over half the production run.  The Congress, in its fiscal year 1993
Authorization Conference Report, questioned whether an annual
production rate of
72 aircraft was realistic and directed the Navy to provide
cost-estimates for smaller production quantities (18, 36, and 54)
with the results of the F/A-18E/Fs initial operational assessment,
which is scheduled for the spring of 1996.  However, data shows that
E/F production rate is expected to be lowered to only 36 F/A-18E/Fs
annually rather than 72. 

Historically, reductions in annual production rates have increased
the per unit procurement cost of aircraft.  The Navy has not provided
us the increased unit cost based on reduced annual production rates. 
Therefore, we approximated what the unit cost increase would be based
on a total procurement of 660 rather than 1,000 aircraft and an
annual production rate of 36 rather than 72 aircraft.  Using the
A/F-X cost model to predict the effect of total buy and annual
production rate changes on recurring flyaway cost, we calculated that
the F/A-18E/F unit recurring flyaway cost would be $53.2 million
(fiscal year 1996 dollars) rather than the $43.6 million (fiscal year
1996 dollars) estimated by DOD.  The $53.2 million unit recurring
flyaway cost for the F/A-18E/F indicates that the E/F would have a
unit recurring flyaway cost that is 189 percent of the F/A-18C/D's
unit recurring flyaway cost ($53 million compared to $28 million). 
As shown in appendix I, this cost difference in unit recurring
flyaway would result in a savings of almost $17 billion (fiscal year
1996 dollars) or savings of over $24 billion when expressed in
then-year dollars, if the Navy were to procure 660 F/A-18C/Ds rather
than 660 F/A-18E/Fs.  Our estimated savings do not include the cost
of C/D upgrades, such as the larger 480-gallon external fuel tanks
for improved range nor the strengthened landing gear to increase
carrier recovery payload.  However, our estimated savings are
conservative because they also do not include planned E/F upgrades
and are based on recurring flyaway costs that do not include the
other items that make up total procurement costs.  (See app.  I for a
discussion of how unit costs are computed.) Additionally, our
estimated savings do not include savings that would accrue from
having fewer type model F/A-18 aircraft in the inventory.  The cost
benefits would result from having common aircraft spare parts,
simplified technical specifications, and reduced support equipment
variations, as well as reductions in aircrew and maintenance training
requirements. 

Also, there are other indications that F/A-18E/F procurement costs
could increase further.  According to contractor estimates, the cost
of LRIP for the E/F is currently projected to be 8.5-percent greater
than estimates provided to the Congress. 


--------------------
\2 Statement before the Airland Forces Subcommittee of the Senate
Armed Services Committee, Mar.  29, 1995. 


CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATION
============================================================ Chapter 6

DOD faces funding challenges as it attempts to modernize its tactical
aircraft fleet through the Air Force's F-22 program, the Navy's
F/A-18E/F program, and the tri-service JSF program.  Various DOD
officials have recognized that funding for each of these programs may
not be forthcoming.  In that event, DOD will be forced to make some
funding trade-offs among these three competing aircraft programs. 

In prior reports,\1 we offered alternative procurement strategies for
the Air Force's F-22 program.  Regarding the Navy's F/A-18E/F
program, DOD's next major decision is whether to proceed into
production.  The Navy has spent about $3.75 billion (then-year
dollars) on the E/F engineering and manufacturing development effort
and plans to spend $57.31 billion (fiscal year 1996 dollars)/ $83.35
billion (then-year dollars) to procure
1,000 aircraft.  This report demonstrates that the justification for
the E/F is not as evident as perhaps it was when the program was
approved in 1992 because the E/F was justified, in large part, on
projected operational deficiencies in the C/D aircraft that have not
materialized.  This report also demonstrates that proceeding with the
E/F program is not the most cost-effective approach to modernizing
the Navy's tactical aircraft fleet.  Therefore, the information
provided in this report should be fully considered before a
production decision is made on the E/F.  Such consideration should
take into account the following. 

  -- Operational deficiencies in the F/A-18C/D cited by the Navy in
     justifying the need for the F/A-18E/F--range, carrier recovery
     payload, survivability, and system growth--either have not
     materialized as projected or can be corrected with nonstructural
     changes to the F/A-18C/D.  Furthermore, E/F operational
     capabilities will only be marginally improved over the C/D
     model.  The E/F's increased range is achieved at the expense of
     combat effectiveness and increased F/A-18E/F payload capability
     has created weapons release problems that, if not resolved, will
     reduce the F/A-18E/F's payload capability compared to the
     F/A-18C/D. 

  -- A more cost-effective approach to modernizing the Navy's
     tactical aircraft fleet exists.  In the short term, the Navy
     could continue to procure the F/A-18C/D aircraft.  In the
     mid-term, upgrades could be made to the C/Ds to further improve
     the C/D's operational capabilities.  These upgrades could
     include such things as:  using the larger 480-gallon external
     fuel tanks to achieve more range; modifying landing gear to
     increase carrier recovery payload; using advanced avionics that
     require less space, cooling and power; and incorporating add-on
     survivability features. 

  -- For the long term, the Navy is considering JSF as a complement
     to the F/A-18E/F.  DOD is predicting that the next generation
     strike fighter will provide more operational capability at less
     cost than the E/F.  Therefore, the next generation fighter
     should be considered as an alternative to the F/A-18E/F. 

  -- The F/A-18E/F will cost more to procure than DOD currently
     projects.  The $43.6 million (fiscal year 1996 dollars) unit
     recurring flyaway cost estimate is based on a total buy of 1,000
     aircraft--660 for the Navy and 340 for the Marine Corps--at a
     high annual production rate of 72 aircraft per year.  However,
     the Marine Corps does not plan to buy the F/A-18E/F aircraft and
     the Congress has stated that an annual production rate of 72
     aircraft is not realistic.  Reducing the number of aircraft to
     be procured and the annual production rate to more realistic
     levels would reduce the total program cost but would increase
     the unit recurring flyaway cost of the aircraft to about $53
     million (fiscal year 1996 dollars). 

  -- In a related report on the F/A-18E/F,\2

we stated that the Navy's plan to procure the E/F appears to
contradict the national military strategy, which cautions against
making major new investments unless there is "substantial payoff." We
pointed out that Navy data show both the C/D and E/F are expected to
hit the same ground targets with the same weapons. 

Pursuing other alternatives, rather than proceeding with the
F/A-18E/F program, would save billions of dollars.  Continued
procurement of the Navy's less expensive F/A-18C/D aircraft (the
fiscal year 1996 unit recurring flyaway cost of F/A-18C/Ds is $28
million compared to $53 million for the F/A-18E/F) could be done only
to the level needed to sustain inventories until the next generation
strike fighter becomes available.  Furthermore, reliance on the more
affordable next generation strike fighter as the Navy's primary
tactical aircraft would help keep that aircraft affordable by
increasing the total buy. 


--------------------
\1 Tactical Aircraft:  F-15 Replacement Is Premature as Currently
Planned (GAO/NSIAD-94-118, Mar.  25, 1994) and Tactical Aircraft: 
Concurrency in Development and Production of F-22 Aircraft Should Be
Reduced (GAO/NSIAD-95-59, Apr.  19, 1995). 

\2 Combat Airpower:  Reassessing Plans to Modernize Interdiction
Capabilities Could Save Billions (GAO/NSIAD-96-72, May 13, 1996). 


   RECOMMENDATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 6:1

Given the cost and the marginal improvements in operational
capabilities that the F/A-18E/F would provide, we recommend that the
Secretary of Defense reconsider the decision to produce the F/A-18E/F
aircraft and, instead, consider procuring additional F/A-18C/Ds.  The
number of F/A-18C/Ds that the Navy would ultimately need to procure
would depend

upon when the next generation strike fighter achieves operational
capability and the number of those aircraft the Navy decides to buy. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS AND OUR
   EVALUATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 6:2

In its comments on a draft of this report, DOD said that it is
convinced that the fundamental reasons for developing the F/A-18E/F
remain valid.  Since DOD provided no data or information that we had
not acquired and analyzed during our review, we have not changed our
position that procuring the E/F is not the most cost-effective
approach to modernizing the Navy's tactical aircraft fleet.  We
recognize that the E/F will provide some improvements over the C/D. 
However, the C/D's current capabilities are adequate to accomplish
its assigned missions.  Based on the marginal nature of the
improvements and the E/F's projected cost compared to the
alternatives discussed in this report, we believe that our
recommendation that DOD reconsider its decision to produce the
F/A-18E/F aircraft and, instead, consider procuring additional C/D
aircraft until the next generation strike fighter becomes
operationally available represents sound fiscal planning.  We
formulated our position within the context of current budget
constraints, the decreased military threat environment, and
statements by DOD officials, such as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, that DOD's current plans to upgrade its tactical aircraft
fleet will not be affordable.  Additionally, as we pointed out in our
report, the national military strategy directs that major new
investments should have substantial payoff.  We do not believe that
procuring the F/A-18E/F would meet this test. 

DOD's entire comments and our evaluation are included in appendix
III. 


   MATTERS FOR CONGRESSIONAL
   CONSIDERATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 6:3

DOD requested funding in its fiscal year 1997 budget request to begin
procurement of the F/A-18E/F.  The Congress may wish to direct that
no funds may be obligated for procurement of the F/A-18E/F until it
has fully examined the alternatives to the E/F program.  In that
regard, the House National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
1997 (H.R.  3230,
sec.  220) directed such an examination, and a DOD deep strike study
is expected to be completed by the end of 1996.  Delaying the
authority to begin procuring the E/F would allow DOD to complete its
study and time for the Congress to asses the results of the DOD study
and the information in this report as it decides whether DOD should
be provided funding to proceed with the F/A-18E/F program. 


F/A-18E/F AND F/A-18C/D
ACQUISITION COST COMPARISON
=========================================================== Appendix I

In annual selected acquisition reports to the Congress, the
Department of Defense (DOD) provides F/A-18E/F program cost data in
both fiscal year 1990 base year and inflated then-year dollars.  The
report provides various procurement data from recurring flyaway costs
to program costs.
Figure I.1 lists the items that make up the various aircraft unit
acquisition costs and demonstrates how DOD can present different
procurement values. 

   Figure I.1:  Breakout of
   Various Program Costs

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Source:  Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). 

Table I.1 shows F/A-18E/F unit cost estimates based on Navy data
(1,000-aircraft buy and a high annual production rate of 72 aircraft)
escalated to fiscal year 1996 dollars and in then-year dollars. 



                               Table I.1
                
                 Navy Unit Cost Estimates for the F/A-
                                 18E/F

                         (Dollars in millions)

                                                            In
                                                        fiscal      In
                                                          year   then-
                                                          1996    year
                                                        dollar  dollar
                                                             s       s
------------------------------------------------------  ------  ------
Recurring flyaway cost (Airframe, engine and avionics    43.60   62.20
 costs)
Total flyaway cost (Recurring flyaway, nonrecurring      48.70   69.50
 flyaway, and ancillary equipment costs)
Total procurement cost (Total flyaway, initial spares    57.31   83.35
 and support costs)
Program cost (procurement and RDT&E costs)               63.09   89.15
----------------------------------------------------------------------
In chapter 5, we provided a comparison of F/A-18C/D versus F/A-18E/F
per unit recurring flyaway costs in fiscal year 1996 dollars to place
better focus on the cost difference between these two aircraft. 
Table I.2 shows the annual and total recurring flyaway cost in
then-year dollars of procuring 660 F/A-18C/Ds or F/A-18E/Fs starting
in 1997.  The cost figures for the C/D are based on an annual
procurement rate of 36 aircraft and a per unit cost extrapolated from
actual fiscal year 1994 unit costs escalated using Navy supplied
inflation factors.  The cost figures for the E/F buy are based on an
adjusted procurement schedule that assumes that funding limitations
would only allow a high annual production rate of 36 aircraft.  Table
I.3 shows the cost of producing 660 F/A-18E/Fs and 660 F/A-18C/Ds in
constant fiscal year 1996 dollars. 

Table I.4 shows the recurring flyaway cost savings that would accrue
from the Navy procuring an equal number (660) of F/A-18C/Ds rather
than E/Fs.  As table I.4 shows, continued procurement of the
F/A-18C/D would result in a savings of almost $17 billion (fiscal
year 1996 dollars) or over $24 billion (then-year dollars) based on
recurring flyaway costs. 



                                    Table I.2
                     
                     Costs of Producing 660 F/A-18E/Fs or 660
                         F/A-18C/Ds in Then-Year Dollars

                              (Dollars in millions)


                         Average       Total                 Average       Total
           Number of   recurring   recurring   Number of   recurring   recurring
Fiscal      aircraft     flyaway     flyaway    aircraft     flyaway     flyaway
year      produced\a        cost        cost    produced      cost\b        cost
--------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------
1997              12       $54.8       $ 658          36       $28.5      $1,026
1998              24        56.4       1,354          36        29.4       1,058
1999              36        58.1       2,092          36        30.3       1,091
2000              36        59.9       2,156          36        31.2       1,123
2001              36        61.6       2,218          36        32.1       1,156
2002              36        63.5       2,286          36        33.1       1,192
2003              36        65.4       2,354          36        34.1       1,228
2004              36        67.4       2,426          36        35.1       1,264
2005              36        69.4       2,498          36        36.1       1,300
2006              36        71.5       2,574          36        37.2       1,339
2007              36        73.6       2,650          36        38.3       1,379
2008              36        75.8       2,729          36        39.5       1,422
2009              36        78.1       2,812          36        40.7       1,465
2010              36        80.4       2,894          36        41.9       1,508
2011              36        82.9       2,984          36        43.2       1,555
2012              36        85.3       3,071          36        44.5       1,602
2013              36        87.9       3,164          36        45.8       1,649
2014              36        90.5       3,258          36        47.2       1,699
2015              36        93.3       3,359          12        48.6         583
2016              12        96.0       1,152           0           0           0
================================================================================
Total            660                 $48,689         660                 $24,639
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\a Initial production of F/A-18E/F aircraft is limited to 12 and 24
aircraft for the first 2 years. 

\b Based on a fiscal year 1994, $26.175-million average recurring
flyaway cost for 36 aircraft escalated by inflation factors provided
by the Navy. 



                               Table I.3
                
                Costs of Producing 660 F/A-18E/Fs or 660
                F/A-18C/Ds in Constant Fiscal Year 1996
                                Dollars

                         (Dollars in millions)


                                                        Averag
                        Number  Averag          Number       e
                            of       e   Total      of  recurr   Total
                        aircra  recurr  recurr  aircra     ing  recurr
                            ft     ing     ing      ft  flyawa     ing
                        produc  flyawa  flyawa  produc       y  flyawa
Fiscal years              ed\a  y cost  y cost      ed  cost\b  y cost
----------------------  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------
1997-2016                  660   $53.2  $35,11     660   $27.7  $18,28
                                             2                       2
----------------------------------------------------------------------


                               Table I.4
                
                Comparison of Costs to Produce 660 F/A-
                 18E/Fs and 660 F/A-18C/Ds in Then-Year
                 and Constant Fiscal Year 1996 Dollars

                         (Dollars in millions)


                                                      Difference in
                  Total recurring   Total recurring   total flyaway
Type of Dollars   flyaway costs     flyaway costs     cost
----------------  ----------------  ----------------  ----------------
Then-year         $48,689           $24,639           $24,050

Constant fiscal   $35,112           $18,282           $16,830
year 1996
----------------------------------------------------------------------

JOINT ADVANCED STRIKE TECHNOLOGY
PROGRAM
========================================================== Appendix II

The Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) program's objective is to
develop a technically superior but less costly, more affordable
aircraft than today's strike aircraft.  The basis for this objective
is to be able to affordably meet potential future threats that cannot
be met by today's aircraft.  The aircraft that will evolve from the
JAST program has been designated the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). 

As of November 1995, the total number of JSF aircraft projected to be
acquired is shown in table II.1. 



                               Table II.1
                
                 Projected JSF Acquisitions by Service

                                                                Number
                                                                    of
                                                                aircra
Service                         Requirement                         ft
------------------------------  ------------------------------  ------
Air Force                       Conventional takeoff and         1,874
                                 landing multirole aircraft to
                                 replace the F-16 and A-10
                                 aircraft
Navy                            First-day-of-the-war               300
                                 survivable, carrier-suitable
                                 aircraft to complement the F/
                                 A-18E/F
Marine Corps                    Short-takeoff and vertical-        642
                                 landing aircraft to replace
                                 the F/A-18 and AV-8B
======================================================================
Total                                                            2,816
----------------------------------------------------------------------
In addition, the United Kingdom is participating in the program and
is expected to buy an unspecified number of the short-takeoff and
vertical-landing versions. 


   THE JAST PROGRAM IS USING
   COST-CUTTING DEVELOPMENT
   METHODS
-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:1

To create the building blocks for an affordable, successful
development of next generation strike weapon systems, the JAST office
is using joint service teams to implement a series of new weapon
systems development processes and techniques.  This new process is
aimed at developing innovative means to significantly lower the
life-cycle costs of developing, producing, and maintaining an
advanced strike aircraft; identify weapons systems requirements; and
identify, develop, and demonstrate advanced technologies for the
aircraft that could be matured to a low-risk level heading into a
decision to contract for the engineering and development of a new
aircraft. 

To accomplish its development objectives, the JAST office is
implementing a three-phase program, after which it expects to enter
into the engineering and manufacturing development phase of an
aircraft acquisition program for a Joint Strike Fighter.  This
approach is designed to develop requirements for the fighter and
demonstrate technology and operational concepts in the areas of
propulsion, flight systems, weapons, structures and materials,
avionics, manufacturing, and supportability.  The three phases are as
follows: 

Concept exploration.  Studying innovative, high-payoff advanced
technologies and system concepts that would reduce costs for joint
strike warfare.  This phase, from May 1994 to November 1994, involved
12 exploration contracts for $10.5 million. 

Concept development.  Further defining concepts and conducting
additional cost and design trade-off analyses, design research, and
technology maturation research.  This phase, scheduled from January
1995 to March 1996, involves 26 contracts for $127.2 million, 4 of
which were contracts to major potential aircraft producers to refine
cost and design trade studies and aircraft concept designs. 
Subsequent to the awards, two of the major contractors--McDonnell
Douglas and Northrop Grumman--teamed together with British Aerospace
to develop a single concept design and perform cost and design trade
studies. 

Concept demonstration.  Demonstrating weapon systems concepts and
leveraged technologies with flying concept demonstration aircraft. 
This phase is scheduled to occur from mid-fiscal year 1996 to
mid-fiscal year 2000.  During this phase, two contractors will each
build and demonstrate two flying concept aircraft that would include
demonstration of short takeoff and vertical landing.  One of these
teams will be chosen to enter into a low-risk engineering and
manufacturing development phase in 2000. 




(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix III
COMMENTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF
DEFENSE
========================================================== Appendix II

letter and attachment 1 are restated in attachment 2 of its comments. 
Therefore, GAO's evaluation of the comments is presented in
attachment 2. 



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MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS REPORT
========================================================== Appendix IV


   NATIONAL SECURITY AND
   INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS DIVISION,
   WASHINGTON, D.C. 
-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix IV:1

Steven F.  Kuhta
Jerry W.  Clark
William J.  Gillies
Charles R.  Climpson


   KANSAS CITY REGIONAL OFFICE
-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix IV:2

Lawrence A.  Dandridge
Lillian I.  Slodkowski


*** End of document. ***