GAO: Justification Lacking on Proposed Air Mobility Reductions

The Air Force has not provided Congress with the details of the analysis used to justify its proposal to reduce the size of the air mobility fleet, claim GAO auditors. “In weighing the Air Force’s proposal, decision-makers would benefit from a clear understanding from [the Defense Department] of the basis for the proposed aircraft retirements and DOD’s ability to execute its new strategic guidance with its planned air mobility force structure,” they write in a new report. The service would like to retire approximately 130 transport aircraft, leaving a fleet of 593 airlifters to support the Pentagon’s planned smaller force structure stemming from the Obama Administration’s new defense strategic guidance. However, without the details of the analysis, lawmakers lack a clear understanding of what mobility systems are needed in coming years, how many, and what the risks are of having too many aircraft or not enough, write the auditors. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said earlier this month the Pentagon is preparing to launch another comprehensive mobility review that is expected to bolster the analytical case for the smaller airlift fleet.