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U.S. Navy Tactical Aircraft Procurement: Into the Twenty-First Century

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Final rept.

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The FA-18EF has been selected by the U.S. Navy to be the aircraft which will lead its carrier based tactical aircraft community into the twenty- first century. Internal Navy mismanagement of the A-12 program resulted in the termination of that program in 1991. With too many of the tactical aircraft in the Navys inventory reaching the end of their service lives at the same time, the Navy had no choice but to field an interim aircraft until an A-12 replacement, a next-generation stealth strike fighter, can be fielded. The selection of the FA-18EF as the interim aircraft has been met with some vocal opposition from within the Navy and elsewhere. Despite opponents claims to the contrary, a detailed analysis of both FA-18EF capabilities and the requirements demanded by current Naval air power doctrine leads to the conclusion that the FA-18EF is eminently qualified to perform virtually every tactical aircraft mission required in anticipated future scenarios. Naval doctrine dictates that the Navy continue to procure multi-role aircraft which are especially capable in the air superiority, close air support, and air interdiction mission areas. Projected challenges to Naval forces operating in the littorals mandate that future Navy tactical aircraft be as stealthy as possible and that they are fielded with robust target identification and anti-cruise and anti-ballistic missile capabilities. In order to ensure that, in the future, both the Navy and the Air Force field the most capable tactical aircraft possible, declining military budgets and skyrocketing technology costs demand that the two services procure the same follow-on aircraft.

Subject Categories:

  • Aircraft
  • Attack and Fighter Aircraft
  • Administration and Management
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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