Strategies for Maintaining the Navy's and Marine Corps' Inventories of Fighter Aircraft

May 28, 2010

The United States Navy and Marine Corps operate a fleet of tactical fighter aircraft that provide air-to-air and air-to-ground combat capabilities. Although current procurement plans call for the purchase of about 700 new fighter aircraft over the next 15 years, the Department of the Navy is projecting that purchases planned for the next 5 to 10 years will be unable to keep pace with the retirement of today’s F/A-18A-D Hornets as they reach the limit of their service life.

This CBO report--prepared as directed by the House Armed Services Committee’s Report on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (H. Rept. 111-166)--compares several alternatives for maintaining the Navy’s and Marine Corps’ fighter inventory levels. The alternatives include different combinations of extending the service life of Hornets and purchasing new aircraft in addition to those already planned. In keeping with CBO’s mandate to provide objective, impartial analysis, this report makes no recommendations.