GAO Scrutinizes F-22 Modernization Plan

While the F-22 Raptor line is now silent, the Air Force’s sole operational fifth generation fighter has $11.7 billion in modernization and improvements booked through 2017, state Government Accountability Office auditors in a report issued May 2. The cost of modernization has grown from $5.4 billion to the current $11.7 billion, as the content, scope, and phasing of planned improvements have shifted over time, they note. Oversight of the program’s cost and schedule is “hampered by a management structure that does not track and account for the full cost of specific capability increments,” they write. Major challenges will confront Raptor modernization in the coming years, they contend. Most notably will be the task of developing, testing, and integrating new hardware and software, while at the same time undertaking improvements in aircraft reliability and maintainability to reduce operating and sustainment costs, they state. GAO recommends that the Defense Department evaluates whether it makes sense to establish some F-22 modernization activities as separate major acquisition programs. DOD concurred with that suggestion, according to the report.