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GAO says that DoD should scale back aircraft purchases

The US General Accounting Office (GAO) says that the US Department of Defense cannot afford to buy or upgrade nearly 8,500 aircraft at a cost of $335 billion between 2000 and 2015, and that it should be more realistic about what it can afford.

"The DoD needs to bring its aircraft investment strategy into line with more realistic, long-term projections of overall defence funding, as well as the amount of procurement funding expected to be available for aircraft purchases- difficult decisions will need to be made about restructuring and/or terminating some programmes", says the congressional watchdog agency.

The GAO is critical of the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike-aircraft, and has called for its cancellation. It argues that "-given the high cost and marginal operational improvements that the E/F would provide", the project should be discontinued. Instead, it argues that additional F/A-18C/Ds should be procured until the Joint Strike Fighter enters service.

The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor has also drawn fire from the GAO auditors. The GAO recommends that the Pentagon consider potentials savings that can be achieved by reducing F-22 performance requirements, as previously suggested by the Defense Science Board.

The GAO says that a $1.12 billion US special operations forces support contract awarded to Raytheon E-Systems earlier this year should be re-opened for bidding. The losing bidder, a Boeing/Sikorsky joint venture, had filed a formal protest with the congressional agency which challenged cost estimates for the contract and claimed that its bid was not fully considered.

The work involves amphibious systems, fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, communications hardware, special weapons and other systems unique to US special operations units. Raytheon E-Systems was the incumbent bidder for the Special Operations Forces Support Activity contract.

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