Index

Military Readiness: Air Transport Capability Falls Short of Requirements
(Letter Report, 06/22/2000, GAO/NSIAD-00-135).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the U.S. air mobility
forces' readiness to execute the National Military Strategy, focusing
on: (1) whether the Air Force's strategic airlift and aerial refueling
fleets are capable of meeting the requirements for winning two nearly
simultaneous major theater wars; (2) the reasons for any shortfalls in
strategic airlift and aerial refueling capability; and (3) what
Department of Defense's (DOD) efforts are underway to resolve these
capability shortfalls and what are the issues it faces in doing so.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD does not have sufficient airlift and aerial
refueling capability to meet two major theater war requirements because
many aircraft needed to carry out wartime activities are not mission
ready; (2) in total, GAO estimates DOD is short: (a) over 29 percent of
the needed military airlift capability; and (b) nearly 19 percent of the
needed refueling aircraft; (3) while the shortfalls do not mean the
United States cannot win two major theater wars, the Office of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff estimates that due to airlift shortfalls, military
forces would arrive later than originally planned, thereby increasing
the risk that war plans would not be executed in a timely manner and
possibly increasing casualties; (4) Air Force Headquarters officials
attribute shortfalls in airlift and aerial refueling capability
primarily to the age of the aircraft and spare parts shortages; (5)
aircraft used for airlift are the C-5, C-141, and C-17; (6) KC-135
aircraft are used for aerial refueling, and KC-10 aircraft are used for
both missions; (7) the C-5 fleet, which ranges in age from 10 to 30
years, averages about 21 years old and the KC-135 fleet is 39 years old;
(8) in recent years, the mission capability of these aging aircraft has
declined primarily because of the increasing number of aircraft that
need depot maintenance; (9) Air Force data show that C-5 and KC-135
aircraft have suffered lower mission capability due to shortages of
spare parts; (10) the Air Mobility Command is considering spending $18
billion through fiscal year 2012 on airlift and aerial refueling
aircraft; (11) its plans include buying C-17s and upgrading the C-5 and
KC-135 aircraft; and (12) however, the results of ongoing DOD studies
reevaluating airlift and refueling requirements and alternatives could
increase future requirements, change budget priorities, and lead to the
procurement of more aircraft.

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

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-00-135
     TITLE:  Military Readiness: Air Transport Capability Falls Short
	     of Requirements
      DATE:  06/22/2000
   SUBJECT:  Combat readiness
	     Military airlift operations
	     Military aircraft
	     Defense capabilities
	     Defense contingency planning
	     Strategic mobility forces
	     Aircraft maintenance
IDENTIFIER:  JCS National Military Strategy
	     C-5 Aircraft
	     C-141 Aircraft
	     C-17 Aircraft
	     KC-135 Aircraft
	     KC-10 Aircraft
	     Galaxy Helicopter
	     Hercules Aircraft
	     Stratomaker

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GAO/NSIAD-00-135

Appendix I: Airlift and Refueling Aircraft

22

Appendix II: Current Airlift and Aerial Refueling Capability

27

Appendix III: Aging of the Mobility Aircraft Contributes to Lower
Mission Capable Rates

36

Appendix IV: Not Mission Capable for Supply and Cannibalization
Rates Generally Exceed Air Mobility Command
Standards

42

Appendix V: Scope and Methodology

49

Appendix VI: Comments From the Department of Defense

51

Appendix VII: GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments

60

Table 1: Airlift and Aerial Refueling Shortfall Based on Average
Mission Capable Rates 10

Table 2: Air Mobility Command Airlift and Aerial Refueling Aircraft Mission
Capable Rates 11

Table 3: Average Age and Number of Aircraft in Depot Maintenance Compared to
Air Mobility Command's Planned Numbers
in Fiscal Year 1999 13

Table 4: Aircraft Average Not Mission Capable for Supply and Cannibalization
Rates Compared to Air Mobility Command Standard Rates for Fiscal Year 1999
14

Table 5: Air Mobility Command Initiatives and Related Funding
Dollars in Billions 17

Table 6: Air Mobility Command Airlift and Aerial Refueling
Aircraft Data 30

Figure 1: Relative Size of Various Airlift and Tanker Aircraft 8

Figure 2: Amount Funded Versus Required for Spare Parts for
Fiscal Years 1991-99 15

Figure 3: C-5 Aircraft 22

Figure 4: C-141 Aircraft 23

Figure 5: C-17 Aircraft 24

Figure 6: KC-135 Aircraft 25

Figure 7: KC-10 Aircraft 26

Figure 8: Airlift Requirement Through Fiscal Year 2006 and
Projected Shortfall 28

Figure 9: Aerial Refueling Requirement Through Fiscal Year 2021 29

Figure 10: C-5 Aircraft Required and Mission Capable, Fiscal Years
1997-99 31

Figure 11: KC-135 Air Mobility Command Aircraft Required and
Mission Capable, Fiscal Years 1997-99 32

Figure 12: KC-10 Aircraft Required and Mission Capable, Fiscal Years 1997-99
33

Figure 13: Age of the C-5 Fleet as of December 1999 37

Figure 14: Age of the KC-135 Fleet as of September 1999 38

Figure 15: Age of the KC-10 Fleet as of January 2000 39

Figure 16: C-5 Average Depot Maintenance Days Fiscal Years
1989-99 40

Figure 17: KC-135 Average Depot Maintenance Days Fiscal Years
1992-99 41

Figure 18: C-5 NMCS Rates Compared to the Air Mobility Command Standard for
Fiscal Years 1997-99 43

Figure 19: C-5 Cannibalizations per 100 Sorties Compared to the Air Mobility
Command Standard for Fiscal Years 1997-99 44

Figure 20: KC-135 NMCS Rates Compared to the Air Mobility
Command Standard for Fiscal Years 1997-99 45

Figure 21: KC-135 Cannibalizations Per 100 Sorties Compared to
the Air Mobility Command Standard for Fiscal Years
1997-99 46

Figure 22: KC-10 NMCS Rates Compared to the Air Mobility
Command Standard for Fiscal Years 1997-99 47

Figure 23: KC-10 Cannibalizations Per 100 Sorties Compared to
the Air Mobility Command Standard for Fiscal Years
1997-99 48

AMC Air Mobility Command

DOD Department of Defense

MPF/D million pounds of fuel per day

MTM/D million-ton miles per day

NMCS not mission capable for supply

National Security and
International Affairs Division

B-284769

June 22, 2000

The Honorable Herbert H. Bateman
Chairman, Subcommittee on Military Readiness
Committee on Armed Services
House of Representatives

Dear Mr. Chairman:

The National Military Strategy calls for U.S. forces to be able to deploy
anywhere in the world to protect national interests. Having sufficient
strategic airlift, sealift, prepositioned supplies and ground transportation
is critical to the military's ability to deploy worldwide. In your July 1999
letter to the Comptroller General, you raised a concern that U.S. mobility
capabilities may be inadequate to quickly transport the military forces and
supplies necessary to execute the National Military Strategy of fighting and
winning two nearly simultaneous major theater wars. This report is the first
in a series to assess the ability of U. S. mobility forces to achieve that
strategy. It addresses the following issues: (1) Are the Air Force's
strategic airlift and aerial refueling fleets capable of meeting the
requirements for winning two nearly simultaneous major theater wars? (2)
What are the reasons for any shortfalls in strategic airlift and aerial
refueling capability? (3) What Department of Defense (DOD) efforts are
underway to resolve these capability shortfalls and what are the issues it
faces in doing so? Appendix V describes the scope and methodology of our
work.

DOD does not have sufficient airlift and aerial refueling capability to meet
the two major theater war requirements because many aircraft needed to carry
out wartime activities are not mission ready. For example, during fiscal
years 1997 through 1999, on average only 55 percent of the C-5 fleet, the
Air Force's largest cargo aircraft, was mission capable1--significantly
short of the 75 percent expected for wartime. In total, we estimate DOD is
short (1) over 29 percent of the needed military airlift capability and
(2) nearly 19 percent of the needed refueling aircraft. While the shortfalls
do not mean the United States cannot win two major theater wars, the Office
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff estimates that due to airlift shortfalls,
military forces would arrive later than originally planned, thereby
increasing the risk that war plans would not be executed in a timely manner
and possibly increasing casualties.

Air Force Headquarters officials attribute the shortfalls in airlift and
aerial refueling capability primarily to the age of the aircraft and spare
parts shortages. Aircraft used for airlift are the C-5, C-141, and C-17;
KC-135 aircraft are used for aerial refueling; and KC-10 aircraft are used
for both missions. (See app. I for descriptions of each aircraft.) The C-5
fleet, which ranges in age from 10 to 30 years, averages about 21 years old
and the
KC-135 fleet averages 39 years old. In recent years, the mission capability
of these aging aircraft has declined primarily because of the increasing
number of aircraft that need depot maintenance. Air Force data also show
that C-5 and KC-135 aircraft have suffered lower mission capability due to
shortages of spare parts.

The Air Mobility Command is considering spending $18 billion through fiscal
year 2012 on airlift and aerial refueling aircraft. Its plans include buying
C-17s and upgrading the C-5 and KC-135 aircraft. However, the results of
ongoing DOD studies reevaluating airlift and refueling requirements and
alternatives could increase future requirements, change budget priorities,
and lead to the procurement of more aircraft.

In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD acknowledged that there
are airlift and aerial refueling shortfalls but disagreed with our method of
computing aircraft mission capable rates. It also disagreed that these
shortfalls would limit DOD's ability to meet the two major theater war
requirements. Our calculations of aircraft mission capable rates, however,
are consistent with Air Force war planning and DOD readiness reporting
guidance. Our conclusion that DOD's ability to meet two major theater war
requirements could be limited by airlift shortfalls is consistent with DOD's
Quarterly Readiness Report to the Congress. We have included DOD's comments
throughout the report where appropriate.

The ultimate test for the military, according to the National Military
Strategy, is for the United States to be able to win two major theater wars
occurring nearly simultaneously. Air mobility would deliver the bulk of the
initial time critical forces and supplies, and it is the cornerstone for the
nation's security strategy for the foreseeable future.

Currently, DOD expects the U.S. Air Force, the Air National Guard, and the
Air Force Reserves to use the C-5, C-141, C-17, and some KC-10 aircraft to
carry many of the first forces overseas and support wartime operations. The
military's KC-135 and the KC-10 aircraft are expected to refuel these
airlift aircraft in transit. The Air Force's Air Mobility Command is
responsible for managing and overseeing the readiness of the air mobility
force. Figure 1 shows the relative size of the individual aircraft.

Source: GAO.

The total annual funding for operating, maintaining, and buying new airlift
and aerial refueling aircraft increased from $8.95 billion in fiscal year
1988 to $12.42 billion in fiscal year 1999 (constant 2000 dollars). As a
percentage of DOD's budget, the amount for airlift and aerial refueling has
doubled since fiscal year 1988, from 2.3 to 4.6 percent, a small portion
when compared to other major military functions such as tactical air forces
(over 11 percent) and land forces (over 18 percent). By fiscal year 2005,
DOD projects airlift and aerial refueling funding will decrease to $11.85
billion (4.2 percent of DOD's budget) because of a decline in the amount
budgeted for procurement. Most of the procurement funds in recent years have
gone toward purchasing C-17 aircraft and will continue to do so through
fiscal year 2005.

DOD does not have sufficient airlift and aerial refueling capability to meet
the estimated two major theater war requirements. According to DOD,
shortfalls are attributable to a combination of factors, including actual
mission capable rates below Air Mobility Command standards, more aircraft in
depot for longer periods than planned (which is factored into mission
capable rate), and a temporary loss of capability as C-17s replace C-141s.
As shown in table 1, based on average mission capable rates, military
airlift is over 29 percent short of the million-ton miles per day (MTM/D)2
requirement. Furthermore, the average number of refueling aircraft mission
capable is nearly 19 percent short. Measured differently, the aerial
refueling shortfall equals about 14 percent of the 106.1 million pounds of
fuel per day (MPF/D)3 total capacity.

              Military        Current                        Percentage
 Mission      wartime         peacetime        Shortfall     total
              requirement     capabilitya      (overage)     shortfall
                                                             (overage)
 C-5          12.98 MTM/D     9.52 MTM/D       3.46 MTM/D    11.85
 KC-10        3.08 MTM/D      3.19 MTM/D       (0.11)MTM/D   (0.37)
 C-17/C-141   13.14 MTM/D     7.93 MTM/D       5.23 MTM/D    17.90
 Total
 military     29.20 MTM/D     20.64 MTM/D      8.58 MTM/D    29.38
 airlift

 KC-135       402 aircraft    317 aircraft     85 aircraft   19.19
 KC-10        41 aircraft     42 aircraft      (1) aircraft  (0.23)
 Total
 refueling    443 aircraft    359 aircraft     84 aircraft   18.96
 aircraft

 KC-135       74.8 MPF/D      59.0 MPF/D       15.8 MPF/D    14.9
 KC-10        31.3 MPF/D      32.4 MPF/D       (1.1)MPF/D    (1.0)
 Total
 refueling    106.1 MPF/D     91.4 MPF/D       14.7 MPF/D    13.9
 capacity

aAverages for C-5, KC-10, and KC-135 were based on rates for fiscal years
1997-99. Average for C-17 and C-141 was based on fourth quarter fiscal year
1999.

Source: Computed based on U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command data.

In 1995, the Air Mobility Command identified the air transportation
requirements to meet the two major theater war demands of the national
strategy. It concluded that the military needed to be able to lift 49.7
MTM/D. Of that amount, 29.2 MTM/D were expected to be delivered by military
aircraft and the remainder was expected to be delivered by civilian
contracted aircraft. For war planning, the Air Mobility Command has
identified the MTM/D each type of aircraft is expected to deliver. DOD's
1997 Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review reaffirmed the nearly
50 MTM/D requirement.

According to the Air Mobility Command, the current number of refueling
aircraft, while less than the classified requirement identified in 1996, is
acceptable assuming the aircraft can be shifted between the two nearly
simultaneous wars. DOD's 1997 Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review did
not change the aerial refueling requirement.

The Air Mobility Command's determinations of the airlift and aerial
refueling requirements and the ability of these forces to meet the
requirements are based on the aircraft operating at standard wartime mission
capable rates--the percentage of aircraft expected to be mission capable.
However, Air Mobility Command data show that many of the aircraft are not
achieving these rates in recent years. During fiscal
years 1997-99, the C-5 and KC-135 average mission capable rates did not
achieve the standard, but the KC-10's average mission capable rate was
slightly higher than the standard. The C-141 and C-17 rates were below the
mission capable standard in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 1999 (see
table 2). Because the C-141s are being replaced by C-17s, the Air Mobility
Command expects the C-141 shortfall to be eliminated by 2004. Therefore, we
considered the performance of the other aircraft of greater concern.

               Mission capable rates (percent)

 Aircraft type Air Mobility Command standard       Averagea peacetime rates
               wartime rates
 C-5           75                                  55
 C-17          87.5                                66
 C-141         80                                  61
 KC-135        85                                  67b
 KC-10         85                                  88

aAverage mission capable rates for the C-5, KC-135, and KC-10 were based on
rates for fiscal years 1997-99. Average mission capable rates for the C-141
and C-17 were based on fourth quarter fiscal year 1999 data because these
aircraft are in transition. These rates were computed by dividing the number
of aircraft mission capable by the total number of primary mission aircraft.

bRate does not include mission capability of 30 KC-135s assigned outside of
Air Mobility Command.

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

In fiscal years 1997 through 1999, the C-5's mission capable rate averaged
55 percent (57 of 104 aircraft). This average is less than the 75-percent
Air Mobility Command mission capable rate standard. At a 55-percent mission
capability rate, the C-5 fleet is nearly 3.5 MTM/D short of its expected
airlift contribution to two major theater wars. This deficit is of
particular concern because of the C-5's ability to carry large cargo. Air
Mobility Command officials said that if they needed to surge aircraft for
wartime deployment, the C-5's initial shortfall may be reduced by increasing
maintenance and aircrew availability, temporarily delaying some periodic
maintenance activities, accelerating aircraft through maintenance, using
training aircraft, and flying aircraft that would normally be considered not
mission capable. Air Mobility Command officials could not quantify how
quickly these steps would affect aircraft availability.

Over the past 3 fiscal years, Air Mobility Command's KC-135s have also
performed below its 85 percent mission capable rate standard, by averaging
67 percent. At a 67-percent rate, the KC-135 fleet is about
85 aircraft and 15.8 MPF/D short of the expected refueling requirement.
According to Air Mobility Command officials, they would employ management
initiatives similar to those cited for the C-5 to increase the number of
refueling aircraft available should more aircraft be needed. Again Air
Mobility Command officials could not identify how quickly these steps would
affect aircraft availability.

The KC-10's performance over the past 3 fiscal years has been above the
85-percent standard rate at 88 percent. Because the aircraft is used for
both airlift and aerial refueling missions, its higher mission capable rate
reduces shortfalls in both missions. At an 88-percent mission capable rate,
the
KC-10 reduced the airlift shortfall by 0.1 MTM/D. When added to the 5.2
MTM/D shortfall anticipated in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 1999 due to
the C-17 replacing the C-141 and lower than expected mission capable rates,
DOD is over 29 percent (8.6 of 29.2 MTM/D) short of the military airlift
requirement. The higher KC-10 mission capable rate reduces the total aerial
refueling aircraft shortfall by 1 aircraft, or 1.1 MPF/D to 14.7 MPF/D.

The Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, through its classified Joint
Monthly Readiness Reviews, determined in fiscal year 1999 that air mobility
shortfalls would not preclude U.S. forces from winning two major theater
wars but could delay implementation of war plans. DOD has reported to the
Congress that these delays could increase the potential for higher
casualties in the interim and during the warfight. These reviews examined
the impact of the air mobility fleet's mission capable status on the U.S.
military's ability to win two nearly simultaneous major theater wars and
other scenarios involving ongoing small-scaled operations. Such analyses
determined the risks associated with the timely arrival of forces and the
ability to move to a second war. In its latest risk assessment to the
Congress, DOD acknowledged that the United States is at high risk in the
second major theater war, in part, due to current airlift shortfalls.
Furthermore, some analyses showed that risks increased for even one major
theater war when U.S. forces were engaged in a Kosovo-size contingency
because it exacerbated the shortages in engines and spare parts. (See app.
II for more details on airlift and aerial refueling requirements, aircraft
mission capable trends for the last 3 fiscal years, and the impact of
current mission capability on executing war plans.)

Capability Rates

According to Air Force Headquarters officials, aging aircraft and
insufficient quantities of spare parts are the two primary reasons airlift
and aerial refueling aircraft are performing below the Air Mobility Command
mission capable standard rates. As aircraft age, more maintenance problems
arise. As a result, the number of aircraft not mission capable increases
because more aircraft are in depot maintenance than the Air Mobility Command
planned (see table 3). In addition, the time it takes to perform aircraft
depot maintenance generally increases with the age of the aircraft. For
example, from fiscal years 1992 through 1999, the average number of days for
KC-135s to complete depot maintenance more than doubled, from 170 days to
374 days due to rework of wings and other structural items, corrosion
prevention measures, and rewiring. (See app. III for more information on
aircraft age and the depot trends over time.)

                                    Number of aircraft in depot
                                    (monthly average)
 Aircraft type Average age (years)  Planned        Actual
 C-5           21                   16             36
 KC-135        39                   52             124a
 KC-10         15                   5              10

aApproximately 16 aircraft per quarter were undergoing a one-time avionics
modification.

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

For years, having insufficient spare parts has also been recognized as a
major contributor to aircraft performing at lower mission capable rates than
expected. The Air Force measures the impact of parts shortages on aircraft
availability by citing a not mission capable for supply (NMCS) rate that
reflects the percentage of aircraft not meeting mission requirements because
parts needed for repairs are not available. The Air Force also tracks the
number of times parts are removed from one aircraft to fix another, which is
called the cannibalization rate. Table 4 compares the fiscal year 1999 NMCS
and cannibalization rates to the Air Mobility Command standard rates for
each. It shows that due to the lack of spare parts, the C-5's and KC-135's
average rates exceeded both standards, while only the KC-10's
cannibalization rate exceeded the standard. (See app. IV for more details on
the extent to which these aircraft were NMCS and cannibalized for parts
during fiscal years 1997 through 1999.)

               Not mission capable for supply ratea  Cannibalization rateb
 Aircraft type Average           Standard            Average    Standard
 C-5           17.75             8.5                 54.93      19.6
 KC-135        12.65             8.5                 11.05      4
 KC-10         4.47              5                   4.51       3

aPercentage of aircraft that cannot meet mission requirements because they
lack parts.

bNumber of cannibalizations per 100 flights.

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

Despite long-standing insufficient spare part problems, the Air Force has
not consistently provided all of the funds its forces said are required to
buy spare parts. As shown in figure 2, since fiscal year 1991, the Air Force
has fully funded what it identified as the total requirement for spare parts
only twice--in fiscal years 1995 and 1999.

1991-99

Source: U.S. Air Force, Deputy Assistant Secretary (Budget).

We reported in 19954 and again in 19995 that the C-5 had not been achieving
the 75-percent mission capable rate, in part, because it lacked spare parts.
DOD responded to the 1995 report by saying that Air Force initiatives to
fully fund C-5 operations, provide increased spare parts funding, and fund
modifications would improve the aircraft's readiness, but not visibly until
1997. The Air Force increased C-5 spare parts funding from 76 percent of
requirements in fiscal year 1994 to 100 percent in fiscal year 1996.
However, funding then decreased to 80 percent of requirements in fiscal year
1997.

Our 1999 report stated that the parts shortage was due, in part, to DOD's
weaknesses in forecasting inventory requirements and the failure of its
logistics system to achieve expected inventory management improvements. We
also noted that to support the mission capability rates at that time, the
Air Force was routinely cannibalizing parts and using parts from the units'
war reserve kits that support deployed operations. DOD again responded that
Air Force initiatives would fix the problem.

In 1999, the Air Force received an additional $904 million in obligation
authority to buy more spare parts. This amount consisted of $387 million to
buy spares attributable to the Kosovo Operation, $135 million to the
Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, and $382 million to overcome the
accumulated shortfall in spare part inventories. According to the Air Force
Material Command, some of this money is to go to the C-5 and the KC-135.
Despite this increase, Air Force officials state that spare part shortages
will continue to be a problem in the near term because it will take 18 to
24 months for increased consistent funding to improve the availability of
spares.

Difficult Choices

Currently, the Air Mobility Command plans to invest $18 billion through 2012
upgrading the C-5 and KC-135 and buying C-17 aircraft (see table 5).
According to DOD, the C-5 and KC-135 upgrades and purchase of 120 C-17s will
slightly improve capability and reduce operating and support costs. After
the delivery of the 120 C-17s is completed, DOD stated it will be able to
increase planned airlift capability from 46 MTM/D in 1999 to 50 MTM/D by
2005 and buying 14 additional C-17s, beginning in fiscal year 2003, would
further increase its capability. However, several studies underway could
increase air mobility requirements, increase the number of aircraft DOD
wants to buy, and change the extent and timing of aircraft upgrades. Such
changes would cause DOD to face difficult choices in deciding how to resolve
the shortfalls.

 Action             Fiscal year  Amount    Comments
                                           The last 35 of 120 C-17s are
 C-17 aircraft                             being purchased to replace the
 purchase           2001-2003    $8.2      C-141s on an equal capacity
                                           basis.
                                           14 additional C-17s purchased to
 C-17 additional                           increase operational flexibility
 aircraft purchase  2003-2005    4.2       and yield a net increase in
                                           overall capability.

 C-5 aircraft                              Reliability and maintainability
 upgrades           2001-2012    5.3       improvements that reduce overall
                                           ownership costs.
 KC-135 aircraft                           Reduces crew size and lowers
 upgrades           2001-2006    0.3       ownership costs.
 Total                           $18.0

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command and DOD comments.

The Air Mobility Command had expected to eliminate the airlift shortfall in
2004 by buying 134 C-17s to replace the 266 C-141s. According to DOD
estimates, it will have bought 85 C-17s at a cost of $25.4 billion by the
end of fiscal year 2000. Buying the remaining 49 aircraft is expected to
cost about $12.4 billion through fiscal year 2005.

Because of the C-5's low mission capable rates, the Air Mobility Command is
considering upgrading the aircraft at a cost of $5.3 billion. The upgrade
program involves replacing the engine; strengthening the structure; and
upgrading many of the aircraft's auxiliary power, electric, hydraulics, and
other systems. The funding for the program would be budgeted through fiscal
year 2012.

According to DOD officials, the planned upgrades to the KC-135 are to
improve its capabilities, not its mission capable rate. However, the Air
Mobility Command is spending approximately $300 million through fiscal year
2006 to replace some engines and perform some other minor actions that,
according to Air Force officials, will improve the fleet's maintainability
and reliability. Although the Air Mobility Command has forecasted that a
replacement for the KC-135 should be entering the inventory in fiscal year
2013, the funding for this replacement has not been identified, even though
it is reasonable to assume funds would be required well before then.

All of these plans could be significantly affected by a number of studies
underway. The most significant of these may be the Mobility Requirements
Study 2005. The results of this study, according to Air Mobility Command
officials, may not be reported until September 2000. The focus of this study
is to determine the capability that is needed to win two nearly simultaneous
major theater wars. It will examine issues such as the impact of deploying
forces already dispersed in small-scaled contingencies around the world,
effects of chemical and biological weapons on mobility, and the effect of
support provided by host nations. These issues, according to Air Mobility
Command officials, will almost certainly increase the amount of airlift and
aerial refueling that is required.

Other ongoing studies that are examining aircraft economic service life and
aerial refueling requirements include an evaluation of how to overcome the
C-5 airlift shortfall and a tanker requirements study. The results of these
studies, when coupled with the Mobility Requirement Study 2005 results,
could have significant force size and budget implications. For example, the
C-5 study examines nine alternatives for providing the same heavy lift
capability currently expected of that aircraft. The alternatives include the
replacement of C-5s, various combinations of upgraded C-5s, and the purchase
of additional C-17s. The tanker requirements study could suggest increasing
the number of refueling aircraft required. According to Air Mobility Command
officials, the cost to replace the 546 aircraft in the
KC-135 fleet could be significant and at a pace of 15 to 20 aircraft a year,
it could take a substantial period of time.

Based on these study results, DOD will face difficult choices about how to
resolve the current airlift and refueling capability shortfalls. These
choices will likely involve one or a combination of the following options,
each of which carries some risk.

 Do not change current plans and accept associated risks. DOD would follow
through on its scheduled purchase of C-17s to replace the C-141s and upgrade
the C-5 and KC-135 aircraft. It would continue employing workarounds to
overcome any temporary capability shortfalls should the aircraft mission
capable rates not achieve standards.

 Decrease requirements by adjusting war plans to allow more time for
deploying forces into theater or planning for less than two nearly
simultaneous major theater wars. For example, allowing more time for the
arrival of forces into a theater would reduce the peak demand for airlift
and aerial refueling. Reducing the size of the ground and combat air forces
to transport overseas would also decrease the cargo requirements. Planning
for less than two nearly simultaneous major theater wars would reduce the
overall tonnage and refueling requirement.

 Reduce peacetime operational commitments, thereby limiting the number of
airlift and aerial refueling flights to the level commensurate with
sustaining the mission capable standards. Limiting the number of aircraft
available to support peacetime deployments could reduce the fleets' demand
for spare parts, thereby reducing the number not mission capable and
increasing mission capable rates.

 Prioritize funding for airlift and aerial refueling operations and
modernization to the levels commensurate with achieving and sustaining the
desired capability levels.

In its comments on a draft of this report, DOD disagreed with our report and
overall conclusion that DOD does not have sufficient airlift and air
refueling capability to meet the two major theater war requirement because
many aircraft are not mission ready. DOD acknowledged that shortfalls in
airlift and aerial refueling capabilities are made worse by chronic spare
part shortages and excessive aircraft in depot maintenance. However, it
asserted that our report overstates the current mission capability shortfall
and does not recognize that some of the reasons for the shortfall are normal
characteristics during peacetime. Furthermore, DOD said we erroneously
characterized its $18 billion planned airlift and aerial refueling
investments to modernize the fleet as an effort to overcome the large
mission capability shortfall.

We disagree with DOD's statement that we overstated the airlift and aerial
refueling shortfall. As our report points out, our shortfall computations
were based on methodology that is consistent with Air Force airlift
warplanning guidance and DOD's October 1999 guidelines for reporting
equipment readiness to the Congress. We also believe that comparing the
fleet's readiness status to the wartime requirement is the appropriate way
to assess the readiness of the airlift and aerial refueling aircraft for the
onset of two major theater wars. As to not recognizing that lower mission
capable rates are a normal characteristic of peacetime operations, we
believe the large number of aircraft consistently in depots, the duration of
their maintenance, and the current parts shortage would delay their
availability for deployment in the event of crisis. Furthermore, we state in
the report that management actions could be taken to reduce the shortfall if
a deployment surge occurs. However, we note that Air Mobility Command
officials could not identify how quickly these actions could be completed
and provide the aircraft needed for a wartime surge.

Appendix VI contains the full text of DOD's comments and our evaluation of
them. DOD also provided technical comments, which we incorporated as
appropriate.

We are providing copies of this report to the appropriate congressional
committees and the Honorable William S. Cohen, Secretary of Defense and the
Honorable F. Whitten Peters, Secretary of the Air Force. Copies will also be
made available to others upon request.

If you or your staff have questions concerning this report, please call me
at (757) 552-8111. The major contributors to this report are listed in
appendix VII.

Sincerely yours,
Neal P. Curtin
Associate Director
National Security Preparedness Issues

Airlift and Refueling Aircraft

The Air Mobility Command is responsible for providing global airlift
services and air refueling operations. To carry out its mission, it has the
C-5, C-141, and C-17 to transport equipment and supplies and the KC-135 and
KC-10 to refuel aircraft. The KC-10 aircraft is also used for transporting
equipment and supplies. Figures 3 to 7 show the individual aircraft.

Source: U.S. Air Force.

The C-5 is one of the largest aircraft in the world. It can carry
291,000 pounds of large cargo for 1,530 nautical miles without refueling and
can take off fully loaded in 8,300 feet or land in 4,900 feet. The aircraft
length is 247 feet and height is 65 feet with a wing span of 223 feet. The
C-5 has a distinctive high T-tail, a 25-degree wing sweep, and four turbofan
engines mounted on pylons beneath the wings. Ground crews can load and
unload the C-5 simultaneously at the front and rear cargo openings since the
nose and aft doors open the full width and height of the cargo compartment.
It can also "kneel down" to facilitate loading directly from truck bed
levels and can carry nearly all of the Army's combat equipment, including
large heavy items as the 74-ton mobile scissors bridge.

Source: U.S. Air Force.

The C-141 fills many airlift requirements through its ability to airlift
combat forces over long distances, deliver those forces and their equipment
either by landing or airdrop, resupply forces, and transport the sick and
wounded from the hostile area to medical facilities. The newer C-141s can
carry 68,000 pounds of large cargo for 2,270 nautical miles without
refueling. The aircraft length is 168 feet and height is 39 feet with a wing
span of 160 feet. The C-141 fleet, nearing 9 million flying hours, is being
replaced by the
C-17.

Source: U.S. Air Force.

The C-17 is the newest, most flexible cargo aircraft to enter the airlift
force. The C-17 is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all
types of cargo to main operating bases or directly to forward bases near the
front lines. The aircraft is also able to perform airdrop missions when
required. The C-17 can carry 160,000 pounds of large cargo for 2,400
nautical miles without refueling, can take off fully loaded and land in
3,000 feet, and can carry almost all of the Army's air-transportable
equipment. The aircraft length is 174 feet and height is 55 feet with a wing
span of 170 feet. The C-17 will be considered the primary military airlift
aircraft once it replaces the
C-141s.

Source: U.S. Air Force.

The KC-135's principal mission is air refueling, which enhances the U. S.
Air Force's capability to accomplish its global missions. The aircraft also
provides aerial refueling support to U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and
allied aircraft. The KC-135 can carry 150,000 pounds of fuel for 1,500
nautical miles. The aircraft length is 136 feet and height is 42 feet with a
wing span of 131 feet. A cargo deck above the refueling system can hold a
mixed load of passengers and cargo.

Source: U.S. Air Force.

The KC-10 is an Air Mobility Command advanced tanker and cargo aircraft
designed to increase global mobility for U.S. armed forces. The aircraft
length is 182 feet and height is 58 feet with a wing span of 165 feet. The
KC-10 has 6 large fuel tanks with a combined capacity of more than
356,000 pounds of fuel-over twice as much as the KC-135. Using either an
advanced aerial refueling boom or a hose and drogue refueling system, the
KC-10 can refuel a wide variety of U.S. and allied military aircraft on the
same flight.

Although the KC-l0's primary mission is aerial refueling, it can combine the
tasks of a tanker and cargo aircraft by refueling fighters and
simultaneously carrying the fighter support personnel and equipment on
overseas deployments. The KC-10 can transport up to 75 people and nearly
170,000 pounds of cargo a distance of about 4,400 miles without refueling.

Current Airlift and Aerial Refueling Capability

The Department of Defense (DOD) does not have sufficient airlift and aerial
refueling capability to initially meet the two major theater war
requirements. Its military airlift capability is over 29 percent short of
the wartime requirement--almost 12 percent of the shortfall is due to the
C-5 aircraft performing below Air Mobility Command's mission capability6
expectations. Nearly 18 percent is due to insufficient airlift capability
while the C-17 replaces the C-141. DOD's aerial refueling capability is
nearly
19 percent short of the required number of aircraft because the KC-135 is
performing below Air Mobility Command's standard. According to DOD, air
mobility shortfalls add risk to its ability to execute war plans.

In 1981, 1992, and 1995, DOD identified its airlift requirements. In 1981,
DOD issued its Congressionally Mandated Mobility Study7 that set a
66-million ton miles per day (MTM/D) objective for strategic airlift. In
1992, after the fall of the former Soviet Union, DOD performed a Mobility
Requirement Study that showed a need to airlift 57 MTM/D to provide the
forces needed for two major theater wars. The 1995 Mobility Requirements
Study Bottom Up Review Update further reduced the airlift requirement to
49.7 MTM/D. Military cargo aircraft were expected to deliver about
29 MTM/D of the 1995 requirement and contracted aircraft called the civil
reserve air fleet would transport the remainder.

The Air Mobility Command has acknowledged that it does not have sufficient
military airlift and refueling capabilities. These conclusions are based on
a comparison of the assumed number of mission capable airlift and aerial
refueling aircraft versus the two major theater war requirements. An Air
Mobility Command estimate provided in September 1999 showed the expected
contributions that various levels of the contracted civilian aircraft and
each type of military airlift aircraft will make (see fig. 8). Despite plans
to replace the 141s with C-17s, the Command still expects to be short
airlift at least through fiscal year 2006, as the figure shows.

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

The Air Mobility Command's last comprehensive aerial refueling requirement
study was in 1996. The classified results for two major theater wars were
stated in terms of the number of aircraft and million pounds of fuel per day
(MPF/D) necessary to support the war time military airlift and combat
aircraft operations. According to the Command, the military does not have
sufficient aircraft in the refueling fleet to meet the requirement without
shifting refueling aircraft between wars. DOD's current guidance to the
Command is to maintain at least the current refueling forces through fiscal
year 2005. As a result, according to the Command, about 600 KC-135 and KC-10
aircraft are needed (see fig. 9). They can provide approximately 106 MPF/D.
The Command anticipates sustaining the fleet size by replacing the KC-135
with a new refueling aircraft (labeled KC-X) beginning in about fiscal year
2013.

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

The Air Mobility Command's airlift and aerial refueling aircraft mission
capability data8 show that for fiscal years 1997-99 the C-5 and KC-135
aircraft have not operated at the expected levels necessary to meet
requirements for the two major theater wars. Their reduced performance
contributes to a shortfall of over 29 percent in military airlift and nearly
19 percent of aerial refueling aircraft, or about 14 percent of its
capacity.

The Air Mobility Command's determinations of the airlift and aerial
refueling requirements, contributions by aircraft, and shortfalls (see figs.
8 and 9) are based on airlift and aerial refueling aircraft achieving
expected mission capable rates. Table 6 shows the total number of each type
of aircraft, the number authorized to Air Mobility Command units, and the
standard mission capable rates needed to meet wartime requirements. It also
shows the number of mission capable aircraft needed based on the standard
rates and the number of aircraft reported as mission capable. Rates for the
C-5, KC-135, and KC-10 aircraft are based on fiscal years 1997-99 data.
Because the C-17 and C-141 are in transition, their rates are based on
fourth quarter fiscal year 1999 information.

                    Total       Standard EquivalentEquivalent Average   Number of
 Type of  Total     mission     mission  number of number of  aircraft  aircraft
 aircraft number of authorized  capable  aircraft  aircraft   mission   short
          aircraft                                 mission    capable
                    aircrafta   ratesb   neededc                        (over)
                                                   capabled   ratese
 C-5      126       104         75       78        57         55        21
 C-17     52        44          87.5     39        29         66        10
 C-141    172       135         80       108       83         61        25
 KC-135   546       472         85       402       317 f      67 f      85 f
 KC-10    59        48          85       41        42         88        (1)

aExcludes aircraft in inventory reserved for backup and training.

bPercentage of mission authorized aircraft needed to meet wartime
requirements.

cThe mission capable rate times the number of mission authorized aircraft.

dThe equivalent number of aircraft is based on the number of mission capable
hours that units reported.

eActual percentage of authorized aircraft that are mission capable is based
on the number of mission capable hours that units report.

fAir Mobility Command only tracks 442 KC-135 authorized aircraft and 30
KC-135s are assigned to other commands. The 67-percent average mission
capable rate for 442 aircraft was used to compute the mission capable
numbers for all 472 aircraft.

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

While four of five aircraft types are performing below standards, the C-141s
are to be replaced by new C-17s, which are just entering the inventory.
Therefore, the C-5, KC-135, and KC-10 aircraft are of greater concern.
Although the mission capable rate of the KC-10 (88 percent) is above
standard (85 percent), its performance is important because it helps meet
both airlift and aerial refueling requirements.

As shown in figure 10, since the beginning of fiscal year 1997, the largest
number of mission capable C-5s has been about 64 aircraft (61.5 percent of
the 104 authorized aircraft in the fleet). This number is well below the
78 aircraft identified in table 6 as required to meet war plans. During the
period corresponding with the Kosovo Operation (March through July 1999), as
few as 44 C-5s were mission capable (42.3 percent of 104 aircraft).

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

Should only 55 percent of the C-5 mission authorized aircraft (about
57 aircraft) and 88 percent of the KC-10s (about 42 aircraft) be mission
capable at the start of a war, DOD could be 3.4 MTM/D short in military
airlift--almost 12 percent. When added to the more than 5.2 MTM/D shortfall
in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 1999 attributable to the C-17 and
C-141, the total shortfall is nearly 8.6 MTM/D, or over 29 percent of the
military portion of the requirement.

The C-5 fleet's low mission capable rate is of particular concern because
(1) this aircraft will lift less cargo to a theater than is expected and (2)
the C-5 carries the greatest amount of large cargo, such as Army tanks. An
analysis of one major theater war scenario showed that about 70 percent of
the cargo required in the critical first 30 days would be this type of
cargo. Air Mobility Command officials said the C-5's initial shortfall may
be resolved by management initiatives such as withdrawing aircraft from
depots, flying aircraft that would normally be considered not mission
capable, and using aircraft assigned for training pilots.

The Air Mobility Command aerial refueling fleet has also been operating
below its desired mission capability level. During fiscal years 1997-99, the
number of equivalent mission capable KC-135s assigned to Air Mobility
Command active and reserve forces peaked at about 347 aircraft
(79 percent of the 442 authorized aircraft) versus 376 aircraft (the
85-percent standard). However, the number had declined to 194 aircraft
(44 percent of 442 authorized aircraft) by September 1999 (see fig. 11).
According to the Air Mobility Command, during the Kosovo Operation, the
number of tanker aircraft involved approximated a major theater war
commitment--thereby straining the fleet.

Fiscal Years 1997-99

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

A major contributor to the KC-135's mission capable decline since July 1999
has been the failure of fuel tanks, a flight control system in the tail
section, and some gears. Air Mobility Command officials said they expect to
fix these problems by September 2000. Data show the KC-135's mission capable
rate has improved from a low of 44 percent (194 aircraft) in September 1999
to 52 percent (229 aircraft) in February 2000.

As noted previously, the KC-10s are expected to not only provide airlift but
also aerial refueling capability. For 2 months during fiscal years 1997
through 1999, as many as 46 KC-10s (96 percent of the 48 mission authorized
aircraft) were mission capable, exceeding the 41 expected based on an
85-percent mission capable standard. However, the number of mission capable
KC-10s had declined to 39 (81 percent of 48) in September 1999. Moreover,
KC-10 mission capability was more frequently below the level expected in
fiscal year 1999 than in the previous 2 years (see fig. 12). The KC-10's
average mission capability in fiscal years 1997-99 slightly reduces the
airlift and aerial refueling shortfalls.

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

Should the KC-135 and KC-10 fleets' mission capability rates be 67 percent
and 88 percent, respectively, at the beginning of a war, DOD would be
84 aircraft (nearly 19 percent) or 14.7 MPF/D (nearly 14 percent) short of
expected refueling capability. According to Air Mobility Command officials,
several 1999 Joint Chiefs of Staff analyses showed that because of the
KC-135's low mission capability rates, DOD would have to employ numerous
workarounds to ensure sufficient aerial refueling. The workarounds might
include deferring depot maintenance, accelerating aircraft through their
final days of depot maintenance, and flying some aircraft with missing or
broken parts, which would not affect flight safety but would normally make
them not mission capable.

Plans

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, through its Joint Monthly Readiness Review
process, has examined the impact of readiness deficiencies on the ability of
U.S. forces to win two major theater wars and other scenarios involving
participation in small-scaled contingencies at the onset of war. It has also
elevated airlift deficiencies as concerns and provided a means to track
progress in resolving them. Although the details are classified, the Joint
Monthly Readiness Reviews showed that degraded airlift and refueling
capabilities would increase risks associated with DOD's ability to implement
the two major theater war plans in a timely manner. Furthermore, risks would
increase for even one major theater war when U.S. forces are already engaged
in a Kosovo size small-scale contingency. The analyses did not conclude that
the adverse impact would jeopardize the ultimate ability of the United
States to win. However, the air mobility shortfalls increased (1) the time
lines to halt the enemy and start the counteroffensive and (2) delays in
these timelines add the potential for higher casualties in the interim and
during the war.

Steps taken by the Air Mobility Command after the Kosovo Operation
illustrated the potential adverse impact of low mission capable rates on air
mobility. Even though, according to the Air Mobility Command, the Kosovo
effort was less than for a major theater war, the cannibalization and spare
parts problems for airlift and aerial refueling aircraft were serious. To
alleviate these problems, the Command allowed the airlift and aerial
refueling forces to reduce their availability for at least 120 days after
the operation. For example, Dover Air Force Base, which is host to a large
number of C-5s, did not make the usual 65 percent of its aircraft available
for flying. It operated at 55 percent availability for 90 days and 60
percent for an additional 30 days. Dover Air Force Base officials told us
this allowed Dover time to rebuild the spare parts supply and improve
mission capable rates. The Command's action of lowering aircraft
availability levels following Kosovo for all tanker and airlift forces so
they could recover from such an operation raises speculation about how
quickly and effectively the aircraft could immediately shift from such an
operation to meet one major theater war requirement. Air Mobility Command
officials have also expressed concern about the loss of flexibility to
respond to multiple missions after the 134 C-17s replace the 266 C-141s
because they will have fewer aircraft and less flexibility to respond to
multiple theater requirements.

Aging of the Mobility Aircraft Contributes to Lower Mission Capable Rates

Aging is a general factor that affects all weapon systems. Older aircraft
and engines not only require more inspections and maintenance but also
increase downtime for maintenance. The aging issue is important to mobility
air forces since they have some of the oldest aircraft in the Air Force
fleet. The KC-10 aircraft is relatively young, whereas the KC-135 is the
oldest aircraft in the fleet and some of the C-5As are not far behind.

According to Air Force officials, one of the reasons for the lower than
expected mission capable rates in recent years for the C-5 and KC-135
aircraft is their age. Both the service life (flying hours) and the
chronological age contribute to structural fatigue, corrosion cracking, worn
out systems, and obsolescence. Each of these issues causes a large workload
that directly affects aircraft availability due to increased
(1) depot maintenance days, (2) field maintenance (inspections and repair),
and (3) operational restrictions.

The C-5 fleet has two primary models, the C-5A and the C-5B. The 76 C-5As
range from 24 to 30 years old, with an average of 27.6 years, and the
50 C-5Bs range from 10 to 13 years old and average 11.5 years (see fig.13).
Together, they average about 21 years old.

Source: Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

The 546 KC-135s are the oldest of the Air Force's air mobility aircraft.
These aircraft range in age from 35 to 44 years old and average 39 years
(see fig. 14).

Source: Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

The 59 KC-10 aircraft range in age from 12 to 20 years and average over
15 years old (see fig. 15).

Source: Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

While not all of the increases in depot maintenance time may be attributable
to aircraft age, as the C-5 and KC-135 aircraft have aged, the number of
days they spend in depot maintenance has increased. The Air Mobility Command
considers the C-5 depot maintenance time unacceptably high. As shown in
figure 16, the average depot maintenance time for the 76 C-5As has increased
from 163 days to 278 days. The
50 C-5Bs, time in depot has been relatively stable, ranging from 173 days in
1993 to 172 days in 1997. The KC-135's average time spent in depot
maintenance was 374 days in 1999, up from an average of 170 days in 1992
(see fig. 17).

Source: Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

Source: Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

The reasons for the high depot maintenance for the KC-135 have changed.
According to project management data, the key maintenance action in fiscal
year 1998 was to repair the aircraft's surface. In fiscal year 1999, the
primary problem appeared to be fixing wing defects.

Not Mission Capable for Supply and Cannibalization Rates Generally Exceed
Air Mobility Command Standards

The C-5, KC-135, and KC-10 aircraft have experienced higher than expected
not mission capable for supply (NMCS) rates and/or cannibalization (removing
parts from one aircraft to fix another) rates during fiscal
years 1997 through 1999 due to a lack of spare parts.

Aircraft are classified as NMCS when they cannot perform any missions due to
the unavailability of parts. According to Air Force officials, the lack of
aircraft spare parts is a major contributor to the lower than expected
mission capable rates for the C-5, KC-135, and to a lesser degree KC-10
aircraft. Particularly with the C-5 and KC-135 aircraft, the NMCS rates have
exceeded the current Air Mobility Command standard in fiscal years 1997
through 1999. The cannibalization rates for all three aircraft have
generally exceeded the current Air Mobility Command standard, which is based
on frequency per 100 flights or sorties. Cannibalizations usually occur
because parts are unavailable in the supply system and therefore may have
minimized the potential NMCS and spare parts shortage.

The C-5 has experienced problems with a lack of spare parts and high levels
of cannibalizations for the last 3 fiscal years. The lack of spares has
caused the C-5 fleet to consistently exceed Air Mobility Command's NMCS and
cannibalization standards during that period, at times by more than
250 percent (see figs. 18 and 19).

Fiscal Years 1997-99

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

Command Standard for Fiscal Years 1997-99

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

Figure 20 shows that the KC-135 NMCS rates have exceeded the Air Mobility
Command standard during the last 3 fiscal years and that the rates increased
significantly at the end of 1999. Air Force officials attribute this
year-end increase to the failure of the flight control systems in the tail
section and the lack of available parts for the needed repairs.

Fiscal Years 1997-99

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

As figure 21 shows, KC-135 cannibalizations during the last 3 fiscal years
also exceeded the Air Mobility Command standard, at times by as much as
three times. The high rate of cannibalizations to support mission capability
levels may have served to minimize the NMCS rate, which already exceeded Air
Mobility Command standards.

Command Standard for Fiscal Years 1997-99

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

The KC-10 NMCS rates, as shown in figure 22, were usually below the Air
Mobility Command standard. However, the cannibalization rates, as shown in
figure 23, were frequently higher than the standard during the last 3 fiscal
years. Again, the rate of cannibalizations may have served to minimize the
KC-10's NMCS rate.

Fiscal Years 1997-99

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

Command Standard for Fiscal Years 1997-99

Source: U.S. Air Force, Air Mobility Command.

Scope and Methodology

To examine the capability of U.S. strategic air mobility forces to execute
the requirements for winning two nearly simultaneous major theater wars, we
received briefings, reviewed documents, and interviewed officials at the
Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
the U.S. Transportation Command, Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Air
Force Mobility Command, and various other Air Force commands in the United
States. We also reviewed our prior reports. Much of our analysis focused on
comparing the wartime strategic airlift and aerial refueling requirements
identified as a result of the Mobility Requirement Study Bottom Up Review
Update, and 1996 aerial refueling study to aircraft mission capability
status in fiscal years 1997, 1998, and 1999.

To identify the C-5, C-141, C-17, KC-135, and KC-10 aircraft mission
capability status over the 3-year period, we obtained and reviewed
information from the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command's Health of Force
database. The Health of Force database reported the monthly aircraft mission
capability, not mission capable due to supply, and the parts cannibalization
rates compared to performance standards. To ensure we used the appropriate
data, we resolved any conflicting information with Air Mobility Command
officials. We also reviewed data reported by units through the Status of
Resources and Training System and the Air Force's System Executive
Management Reports. We reviewed selected classified DOD Joint Monthly
Readiness Review Reports and talked with Joint Staff officials to obtain
information on the impact of airlift and aerial refueling shortfalls.

To identify reasons for the airlift and aerial refueling capability
shortfalls, we talked with and obtained information from officials at
Headquarters Air Mobility Command, the Headquarters Air National Guard,
Headquarters Air Force Reserves, and the U.S. Air Force Air Logistics Center
project offices for the C-5, KC-135, and KC-10. We also received briefings
and talked with officials from C-5 units at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

We obtained and reviewed information on DOD's efforts to resolve the
shortfalls and related costs from a variety of sources. We reviewed the
Joint Staff's deficiency database to identify concerns raised during the
Joint Monthly Readiness Reviews that are being tracked until they are
resolved. We also obtained the cost of DOD's plans to buy the remaining
C-17s from its future year defense plan. The C-5 and KC-135 project offices
and officials at Headquarters Air Mobility Command provided their aircraft
modernization plans and related costs. Headquarters U.S. Air Force
identified several initiatives to reduce the spare parts shortfall and the
associated costs. We obtained general funding data from DOD's future year
defense plan. We also monitored the status of several studies, including the
Mobility Requirements Study 2005 that could affect future air mobility
forces and the budget.

Our review was conducted from July 1999 through April 2000 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards.

Comments From the Department of Defense

The following are GAO's responses to DOD's comments dated May 15, 2000.

1. With respect to whether DOD has sufficient airlift and air refueling
capability to meet the two major theater war requirements, we believe our
data show that due to the substandard mission capable status of the fleet,
the airlift and aerial refueling capabilities available for the onset of war
are significantly below the Air Mobility Command's wartime planning
requirements. To calculate our aircraft mission capable rates, we compared
the number of mission capable aircraft to the total number of aircraft that
should be mission available according to the Command's wartime planning
process (total aircraft minus those allotted for training and depot
maintenance). This method for calculating mission capable rates is
consistent with Air Force Pamphlet 10-1403, "Air Mobility Planning Factors"
and recommended in DOD's October 1999 guidance for future Quarterly
Readiness Reports to the Congress. In contrast, the Air Mobility Command
rates referred to by DOD compared the number of mission capable aircraft to
the total number of aircraft physically at units. This methodology results
in higher mission capable rates because unit totals do not account for their
aircraft that are in depot in excess of those allotted for maintenance.

2. According to the DOD Quarterly Readiness Reports to the Congress, the low
mission capable status of air mobility forces, while not jeopardizing our
ability to win the war, add risk and would delay the implementation of war
plans. Furthermore, it states that potentially longer timelines required to
halt the enemy and start a counter offensive increase the potential for
higher casualties in the interim and during the warfight.

3. We agree that these plans could allow DOD to increase airlift capability
from 46 MTM/D in 1999 to 50 MTM/D in 2005 when delivery of 120 C-17s is
completed, assuming they achieve the 87.5-percent wartime mission capable
rates. We included DOD's comments on the purposes of the
$18-billion investment in table 5.

4. We do not believe table 1 is misleading. The Air Mobility Command's
wartime planning process shows that of the 50 MTM/D, a portion of the
29.2-MTM/D military airlift requirement is to be delivered by each type of
aircraft as shown in table 1. The Air Mobility Command also specifies
expected mission capable rates by type of refueling aircraft. MPF/D is cited
as another aerial refueling metric in the Air Mobility Strategic Plan 2000.

5. The footnote is changed to reflect DOD's comment.

6. We did not change the footnote. The Air Mobility Command provided the
definition cited.

7. The paragraph is changed to reflect DOD's comment.

8. The paragraph is changed to reflect DOD's comment.

9. The paragraph is changed to reflect DOD's comment.

10. See our response to comment 1.

11. The paragraph is changed to reflect DOD's comment.

12. The paragraph is changed to reflect DOD's comment.

13. The number is changed to reflect DOD's comment.

14. We did not agree with DOD's comment. The risk of a shortfall remains
until aircraft achieve standard mission capable rates and efforts to drive
down the number of aircraft in depot are successful.

15. The paragraph is changed to reflect DOD's comment.

16. We do not believe it is necessary to specify the name of the part.

17. The number is changed to reflect DOD's comment.

GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments

William C. Meredith (202) 512-4275
Richard G. Payne (757) 552-8119

In addition to those named above, Raul S. Cajulis, Lawrence E. Dixon, James
E. Lewis, Sharon L. Reid, and Gregory J. Symons made key contributions to
this report.

(702017)

Table 1: Airlift and Aerial Refueling Shortfall Based on Average
Mission Capable Rates 10

Table 2: Air Mobility Command Airlift and Aerial Refueling Aircraft Mission
Capable Rates 11

Table 3: Average Age and Number of Aircraft in Depot Maintenance Compared to
Air Mobility Command's Planned Numbers
in Fiscal Year 1999 13

Table 4: Aircraft Average Not Mission Capable for Supply and Cannibalization
Rates Compared to Air Mobility Command Standard Rates for Fiscal Year 1999
14

Table 5: Air Mobility Command Initiatives and Related Funding
Dollars in Billions 17

Table 6: Air Mobility Command Airlift and Aerial Refueling
Aircraft Data 30

Figure 1: Relative Size of Various Airlift and Tanker Aircraft 8

Figure 2: Amount Funded Versus Required for Spare Parts for
Fiscal Years 1991-99 15

Figure 3: C-5 Aircraft 22

Figure 4: C-141 Aircraft 23

Figure 5: C-17 Aircraft 24

Figure 6: KC-135 Aircraft 25

Figure 7: KC-10 Aircraft 26

Figure 8: Airlift Requirement Through Fiscal Year 2006 and
Projected Shortfall 28

Figure 9: Aerial Refueling Requirement Through Fiscal Year 2021 29

Figure 10: C-5 Aircraft Required and Mission Capable, Fiscal Years
1997-99 31

Figure 11: KC-135 Air Mobility Command Aircraft Required and
Mission Capable, Fiscal Years 1997-99 32

Figure 12: KC-10 Aircraft Required and Mission Capable, Fiscal Years 1997-99
33

Figure 13: Age of the C-5 Fleet as of December 1999 37

Figure 14: Age of the KC-135 Fleet as of September 1999 38

Figure 15: Age of the KC-10 Fleet as of January 2000 39

Figure 16: C-5 Average Depot Maintenance Days Fiscal Years
1989-99 40

Figure 17: KC-135 Average Depot Maintenance Days Fiscal Years
1992-99 41

Figure 18: C-5 NMCS Rates Compared to the Air Mobility Command Standard for
Fiscal Years 1997-99 43

Figure 19: C-5 Cannibalizations per 100 Sorties Compared to the Air Mobility
Command Standard for Fiscal Years 1997-99 44

Figure 20: KC-135 NMCS Rates Compared to the Air Mobility
Command Standard for Fiscal Years 1997-99 45

Figure 21: KC-135 Cannibalizations Per 100 Sorties Compared to
the Air Mobility Command Standard for Fiscal Years
1997-99 46

Figure 22: KC-10 NMCS Rates Compared to the Air Mobility
Command Standard for Fiscal Years 1997-99 47

Figure 23: KC-10 Cannibalizations Per 100 Sorties Compared to
the Air Mobility Command Standard for Fiscal Years
1997-99 48
  

1. Mission capable means an aircraft can perform at least one and
potentially all of its designated mission activities.

2. MTM/D is a measure of airlift capacity that Air Mobility Command computes
using a formula that is the product of the mission aircraft's (available
hours per day) (the nautical miles per hour) (the expected average load) (a
factor that accounts for returning empty) and is divided by a million miles.
It represents the fully mobilized wartime capability of all cargo airlift,
including active duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and civilian.

3. MPF/D is an Air Mobility Command measure of fuel offload capability cited
in its Strategic Master Plan. It is computed using a formula that is the
product of the aircraft (inventory) (sortie rate) (offload per sortie) and
is divided by a million miles.

4. Strategic Airlift: Improvements in C-5 Mission Capability Can Help Meet
Airlift Requirements (GAO/NSIAD-96-43 , Nov. 20, 1995).

5. Air Force Supply: Management Actions Create Spare Parts Shortages and
Operational Problems (GAO/NSIAD/AIMD-99-77 , Apr. 29, 1999).

6. Mission capable refers to the condition of an aircraft indicating it can
perform at least one and potentially all of its designated missions.

7. Department of Defense Authorization Act, 1981, Pub. L. 96-342, sect. 203(b),
94 Stat. 1077, 1080 (1980).

8. Some of DOD's aircraft status reports show different numbers because they
focus on the number of aircraft that units possess, whereas our analysis is
based on the number of aircraft that are anticipated to meet wartime airlift
and aerial refueling requirements.
*** End of document. ***