Aircraft Conundrum

By John Liang / August 9, 2010 at 5:47 PM

Until the Pentagon completes its restructuring of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and has a better idea of what its future tactical aircraft requirements will be -- and until it knows more about what unmanned aircraft and bombers can bring to the table -- "it will be difficult for DOD to make informed investments in legacy aircraft upgrades and modernizations, and new aircraft procurements," a new GAO report released today states.


GAO suggests that Congress consider requiring that costs associated with modernizing and sustaining the legacy fleet be included in future investment plans, and recommends that DOD 1) better define requirements and the size and severity of projected shortfalls, 2) clearly articulate how systems like unmanned aircraft are accounted for, and 3) complete a comprehensive cost and benefit analysis of options for addressing expected shortfalls. DOD agreed with the second recommendation and partially agreed with the others, citing current and planned actions. GAO believes its recommendations remain valid.

UPDATE (2:40 p.m.): Bloomberg News is reporting that Boeing may get an extra $7 billion "to extend the use of the Navy's older fleet of F/A-18 jets, partly because of delays in Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35 Joint Strike Fighters," quoting the GAO report.