Selected US Navy, Air Force aircraft did not meet availability goals, GAO finds

Illustration. Photo: US Navy

Between fiscal years 2011 and 2016, the US Air Force and Navy generally did not meet aircraft availability goals, a recent report issued by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds. 

What is more, operating and support (O&S) cost trends for GAO’s selected fixed-wing aircraft varied.

Specifically, GAO found that availability declined for six of twelve aircraft — three from each service — between fiscal years 2011 and 2016.

In addition, availability fell short of goals for nine of twelve aircraft in fiscal year 2016.

O&S costs increased for five of the aircraft, and maintenance costs—the largest share—increased for eight of twelve aircraft.

The Air Force and Navy have documented sustainment strategies for some aircraft, regularly reviewed sustainment metrics, and implemented improvement plans. The Air Force has documented sustainment strategies for all aircraft GAO reviewed; however, the Navy has not documented or updated its sustainment strategies for four aircraft.

As explained, the Navy does not have a documented sustainment strategy for the C-2A, and has not updated the strategies for the E-2C, EA-18G, and F/A-18A-D since before 2012.

The Navy is in the process of documenting its strategies, but Department of Defense (DOD) policy is unclear on whether a sustainment strategy is required and has to be updated every 5 years for weapon systems that are in the operations and support phase of their life cycle, according to GAO.

GAO is recommending that DOD and the Navy update or issue new policy and guidance clarifying the requirements for documenting sustainment strategies for legacy weapon systems.

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