Strategies for Maintaining the Navy's and Marine Corps Inventories of Fighter Aircraft
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE (U S CONGRESS) WASHINGTON DC
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The United States Navy and Marine Corps maintain a fleet of more than 1,100 tactical fighters that provide capabilities for air-to-air combat and air-to-ground attack. As of January 2010, that force consisted of about 640 FA-18ABCD Hornets, nearly 400 FA-18EF Super Hornets, and roughly 150 AV-8B Harriers. Current modernization plans call for replacing all of the Hornets and Harriers with about 100 more Super Hornets and 680 F-35BC Joint Strike Fighters JSFs. See Box 1 for a brief description of those fighters. The high usage rate of fighters in military operations over the past decade coupled with delays in the development of the JSF, however, have raised concerns within the Department of the Navy that its inventory of fighters will drop significantly below the level needed for the planned force structure over the next 10 to 15 years. In particular, in the absence of modifications to their airframe structure, Hornets are now projected to reach the end of their service life faster than they can be replaced with JSFs. To mitigate potential inventory shortfalls, the department is investigating ways to extend the service life of its Hornets as well as changes it could make to how the fleet is organized and employed to reduce the number of aircraft needed for operations. The Navy could also reduce projected inventory shortfalls by purchasing more Super Hornets than current plans call for until the JSF can be delivered in large numbers.
- Attack and Fighter Aircraft
- Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies