« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
munitions, vital attributes based on experiences in the Gulf War. The inventory of precision air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons carried by these aircraft is also being significantly expanded and improved.
Additionally, DOD has more than tripled its inventory of long-range missiles to attack ground targets and has improved the range and accuracy of many of them. Funds are also being spent to advance U.S. forces' ability to identify targets and communicate information quickly to combatant units. These advances are expected to further enhance the capabilities of current forces. Figure 1 highlights several significant advances in U.S. air power capabilities since fiscal year 1991.
Figure 1: Increases in Key U.S. Combat Air Power Capabilities Since the End of Fiscal Year 1991
Note: Long-range missiles include the Tomahawk cruise missile and the Army Tactical Missile
Although potential adversaries possess capabilities that threaten U.S. air
Because most potential adversaries lack the ability to develop and produce high technology weapons, they must import weapons to modernize their forces. However, they are likely to be inhibited from procuring advanced weapons due to changes in the post-Cold War arms market, national and international efforts to limit proliferation of conventional arms, and the high cost of advanced weapons. Shortfalls in training, maintenance, logistics, and doctrine further constrain potential adversaries' capabilities.
The services are proceeding with costly acquisition programs to attain
a Joint Strike Fighter is not included in this table because DOD has not yet estimated its total
DOD faces a major challenge in attempting to pay for all of the programs as planned. While DoD believes these modernization plans are affordable, a 1996 Congressional Budget Office analysis of the F/A-18E/F, F-22, and Joint Strike Fighter costs and likely funding available for these programs raises serious doubts and indicates that about $3 billion (1997 dollars) more will be required annually than may be available during the period 2002-2020.
DOD has not sufficiently assessed joint mission requirements and is therefore not well-positioned to determine the need for and priority of its planned investments. Major force structure and planning decisions have been made without completed analyses of the services' qualitative and quantitative requirements and capabilities to conduct combat air power missions.
A dearth of information on joint mission needs and aggregate capabilities to meet those needs prevents a definitive answer as to whether Dod's air power modernization programs are justified. However, based on past GAO reviews of individual air power systems and available information collected on its six mission reviews, Gao believes that DoD is proceeding with some major modernization programs without clear evidence that they are justified. Available information indicates that the current forces in some mission areas already provide combatant commanders with formidable capabilities. For example, the services already have at least 10 ways to hit 65 percent of the thousands of expected ground targets in two major regional conflicts. In addition, service interdiction assets can provide 140 to 160 percent coverage for many types of targets. Despite their numerous overlapping, often redundant, interdiction capabilities, the services plan to acquire aircraft and other weapons over the next 15 to 20 years that will further enhance their interdiction capabilities. This includes major modifications to the Air Force's fleet of 95 B-1B bombers to enable them to deliver conventional weapons.
The changed security environment appears to have lessened the need to proceed with some programs as planned. For example, despite the United States' unmatched air-to-air combat capabilities, the Air Force plans to begin production of its next generation fighter—the $111 million F-22-in 1998, with rapid increases in the production rate to follow. The F-22 program was initiated to meet the projected Soviet threat of the mid-1990s. The severity of the threat in terms of quantities and capabilities has declined and potential adversaries have few fighters that could challenge the F-15, the current U.S. frontline fighter.
For some highly expensive modernization programs, viable, less costly alternatives are available. In these cases, the payoff in terms of added mission capability-considering the investment required-does not appear to be clearly substantial as mandated by the National Military Strategy. For example, the Navy F/A-18E/F's expected range, carrier recovery payload, and survivability will be only marginally improved over that of the less costly F/A-18C/D model.
DOD has taken steps to improve the information the Secretary of Defense
Certain obstacles must be overcome to improve the information flowing from a joint perspective. For example, DOD acknowledges that its current analytical tools, such as computer models and war games, need to be improved if they are to be effectively used in analyzing joint warfighting. Also, assessments that could threaten service plans and budgets are frequently avoided, and the potential effects of program reductions or cancellations on careers, jobs, and the industrial base inhibit serious consideration of program alternatives. Finally, the desire to gain the consensus of the services sometimes inhibits decisions that could better integrate service capabilities along mission lines. GAO acknowledges that more comprehensive assessments will not, by themselves, solve these long-standing problems. Major changes in outlook throughout the Department are also needed.