Balance and Affordability of the Fighter and Attack Aircraft Fleets of the Department of Defense
Air Force and Navy tactical aircraft are designed to destroy enemy aircraft in the air (the fighter mission) and to attack enemy targets on the ground (the attack mission). To carry out these key missions, the Air Force and the Navy today maintain about 5,300 tactical aircraft of nine different types. The Administration plans to create four new or modified types of aircraft over the next decade or so that would replace existing models. This paper assesses likely future trends in the numbers, age, and cost of tactical aircraft in the Navy and Air Force. Trends under the Administration's plans for tactical aircraft are the focus of the analysis. The paper also notes some alternative approaches to the Administration's plan that are designed to hold down costs and restructure priorities. Because the Administration has not always publicly stated its detailed plans, the paper makes assumptions about those plans. Wherever possible, those assumptions--referred to as the base case--reflect current Administration statements regarding the number of forces, how many new planes are to be bought, and when older aircraft are to be retired. The analysis examines the period from the present through the year 2010. The year 2010, while chosen arbitrarily, is far enough in the future to capture the effects of current plans for developing tactical aircraft.
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