Re-Evaluating Raptor Modernization Plans

The Air Force’s move to modernize its F-22 fleet with incremental programs will increase transparency and accounting, but USAF should take a hard look at reliability targets and requirements for the Raptor fleet, states a new report from the Government Accountability Office. In February 2013, USAF awarded a multi-billion dollar contract for Raptor modernization efforts through 2023, the largest of which supports the Reliability and Maintainability Maturation Program (RAMMP). The GAO report, which was released May 15, assesses USAF’s approach to the modernization plan, its management of the F-22 reliability and structural improvements process, and challenges in the program. GAO gives USAF credit for structuring RAMMP incrementally, noting it will provide greater visibility into cost schedule and performance. However, to date, the Air Force has not been able to achieve its fleet availability targets as a result of modernization, from 61.2 percent in 2011 to a targeted 70.6 percent availability by the end of Fiscal 2015. Air Combat Command officials said current availability requirements are based on assumptions, which may not be valid anymore, states the report. That could mean some RAMMP projects may be unnecessary. GAO recommends USAF put a comprehensive cost and schedule estimate for RAMMP into its annual F-22 report to Congress, conduct a reassessment of F-22 materiel availability requirements, and determine any changes needed to the “number and scope” of RAMMP projects.