Page 14

2

Magnitude of the Problem

When the Cold War ended, it became possible to reduce the size of U.S. forces significantly. Between 1989 and 1999, the number of active duty military personnel, as well as civilian DoD employees, was reduced by 34 percent (CBO, 2000). Because of the downsizing, a surplus of equipment became available from the procurement programs of the 1980s; therefore, there was a corresponding reduction in the purchasing of new weapons.

By the end of the 1990s, the downsizing was essentially complete. However, because of the downturn in procurement, the average age of many kinds of military equipment had increased. This older equipment requires increased maintenance and is vulnerable to a lack of parts, which has led to the cannibalization of one unit to keep another running. The overall result has been lower mission-capable rates and a decrease in readiness.

Although U.S. military forces must be modernized to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, DoD has been caught in a vicious cost spiral of modernization costs and constantly increasing support costs. Because of a relatively flat total budget, funds needed for modernization are often siphoned off to meet growing support costs, which continue to increase as equipment ages. This trend must be reversed. The problem of maintaining and modernizing aging avionics is acute.

DIMINISHING MANUFACTURING SOURCES/ OUT-OF-PRODUCTION PARTS

As the size of U.S. forces has decreased, there has been a corresponding consolidation of the defense industrial base, including a consolidation of the suppliers of avionics components. The reduction in the number of prime contractors, combined with reduced procurement budgets, has led to a commensurate reduction in market opportunities for lower tier suppliers. This has further exacerbated the DMS problem.

Even companies that have continued to supply DoD have, in many cases, shifted their focus to meeting the requirements of commercial markets, which are characterized by ever shorter product life cycles. As a result of these trends, fewer suppliers of legacy avionics components are available today, and parts that are available are going out of production at an accelerating pace.

Transition Analysis of Component Technology (TACTech), Incorporated, is a company that tracks the availability of electronic components and provides information tools for managing parts obsolescence. Table 2-1 shows the rates at which standardized military/aerospace devices listed in the TACTech database went out of production between 1986 and 1996. During that 10-year period, the percentage of parts that



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 14
Page 14 2 Magnitude of the Problem When the Cold War ended, it became possible to reduce the size of U.S. forces significantly. Between 1989 and 1999, the number of active duty military personnel, as well as civilian DoD employees, was reduced by 34 percent (CBO, 2000). Because of the downsizing, a surplus of equipment became available from the procurement programs of the 1980s; therefore, there was a corresponding reduction in the purchasing of new weapons. By the end of the 1990s, the downsizing was essentially complete. However, because of the downturn in procurement, the average age of many kinds of military equipment had increased. This older equipment requires increased maintenance and is vulnerable to a lack of parts, which has led to the cannibalization of one unit to keep another running. The overall result has been lower mission-capable rates and a decrease in readiness. Although U.S. military forces must be modernized to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, DoD has been caught in a vicious cost spiral of modernization costs and constantly increasing support costs. Because of a relatively flat total budget, funds needed for modernization are often siphoned off to meet growing support costs, which continue to increase as equipment ages. This trend must be reversed. The problem of maintaining and modernizing aging avionics is acute. DIMINISHING MANUFACTURING SOURCES/ OUT-OF-PRODUCTION PARTS As the size of U.S. forces has decreased, there has been a corresponding consolidation of the defense industrial base, including a consolidation of the suppliers of avionics components. The reduction in the number of prime contractors, combined with reduced procurement budgets, has led to a commensurate reduction in market opportunities for lower tier suppliers. This has further exacerbated the DMS problem. Even companies that have continued to supply DoD have, in many cases, shifted their focus to meeting the requirements of commercial markets, which are characterized by ever shorter product life cycles. As a result of these trends, fewer suppliers of legacy avionics components are available today, and parts that are available are going out of production at an accelerating pace. Transition Analysis of Component Technology (TACTech), Incorporated, is a company that tracks the availability of electronic components and provides information tools for managing parts obsolescence. Table 2-1 shows the rates at which standardized military/aerospace devices listed in the TACTech database went out of production between 1986 and 1996. During that 10-year period, the percentage of parts that

OCR for page 14
Page 15 TABLE 2-1 Accelerating Obsolescence of Military/Aerospace Devices Year Number of Parts in TACTech Database Number of Parts Discontinued Percentage of Parts Discontinued 1986 22,341 1,675 7.5 1988 30,811 2,975 9.6 1990 55,326 4,371 7.9 1992 72,089 7,593 10.9 1994 58,295 9,659 16.5 1996 45,873 6,210 13.5 Source: TACTech, 1997. were discontinued almost doubled, from 7.5 percent of the total to 13.5 percent of the total. There is every reason to believe that these percentages will increase in the future. Although the total number of unique part styles is decreasing as levels of circuit integration increase, the percentage of discontinued parts is not expected to decrease at the same rate. A significant portion of funds allocated to each weapon system is being used to contend with the DMS/ OP problem. Estimates of the cumulative amount of money required to address DMS/OP for the F-15, F-22, and U-2 (including development, production, and installation) are close to $1 billion each (U.S. Air Force, 2000a). It is important to stress that these funds are required simply to maintain current functions and do not buy any additional capability. RISING SUPPORT COSTS A DoD report, Product Support for the 21st Century: A Year Later (September 2000) notes that DoD spends about $62 billion annually to support and maintain its equipment (DUSD[AT&L], 2000). In fiscal year 1999 (FY99), the Air Force spent about $3 billion for depot-level repairs of its aircraft. Approximately one-third of this, or $1 billion, was spent on maintaining and supporting avionics systems (operations and maintenance [O&M] funds), as shown in Figure 2-1 . An additional ~ enlarge ~ FIGURE 2-1 Cost of avionics in depot-level aircraft maintenance for FY99. Source: U.S. Air Force, 2000a.

OCR for page 14
Page 16 ~ enlarge ~ FIGURE 2-2 Projected depot-level avionics operations and maintenance costs. Source: U.S. Air Force, 2000b. $250 million to $275 million per year is needed to address the aging avionics problem (personal communication from Lt. Gen. R. Raggio, Commander, Aeronautical Systems Center, July 2, 2000). In fact, avionics systems are the second largest component of Air Force O&M costs after engines. Because of the growing DMS/OP problem, depot-level support costs for avionics are projected to increase by about 50 percent in the next five years ( Figure 2-2 ). Monies spent strictly on DMS/OP for one-for-one replacement are not available for modifications that could improve the reliability or maintainability of avionics components or reduce TOC. Thus, the Air Force is compelled to continue to play catch-up with its O&M funds. For example, O&M budget constraints on the Air Mobility Command have left insufficient funds for the C-5, C-141, and C-17 to fly the required number of flight hours to meet training requirements (U.S. Air Force, 2000a). BUDGET FOR MODERNIZING AVIONICS The Air Force must maintain an inventory of approximately 6,000 aircraft to sustain 195 active air wings. For the past five years, the average annual procurement of new aircraft has been only 25 aircraft: 22 in 1996, 22 in 1997, 24 in 1998, 26 in 1999, and 28 in 2000 (Hitt, 2000). If this low rate of procurement continues, the USAF will turn over its aircraft inventory every 240 years. Until something is done to reverse this trend, as the age of aircraft increases, O&M costs will also increase. With an essentially flat DoD budget and strong pressure against increasing aircraft procurements, O&M dollars are being diverted from budgets for modernization, which exacerbates the problem. The limited remaining dollars for modifications are being used to fund modifications to enable airplanes to operate in controlled airspace and to make existing aircraft compatible with the new “smart weapons” that are coming into the inventory. Consequently, very few dollars are left to modernize aging avionics systems or the infrastructure to support these systems. The Air Force modernization account (modernization includes R&D, testing, evaluation, and procurement), approximately $20 billion per year, has remained at about that level throughout the 1990s and is projected to remain flat through FY07 (Durante, 2000). Figure 2-3 shows funding for avionics modernization from the FY01 President's Budget Request (PBR) (PBR, 2000). As Figure 2-3 shows, funding would increase through FY01 and decrease thereafter. According to the committee's analysis, however, the avionics investments already approved in the FY01 PBR will cost an additional $5 billion beyond FY05, which is inconsistent with the decrease after FY01. Figure 2-4 shows a breakdown of funds already committed to out-year costs by weapon system, which are dominated by modifications to the C-130. Some of the upgrades funded in the PBR will be necessary to ensure that U.S. aircraft meet the requirements of the GATM. In addition, most of the transport aircraft from Air Mobility Command will be provided with the TCAS and ground proximity warning equipment. These upgrades account for approximately 20 percent of the modernization budget each year.

OCR for page 14
Page 17 ~ enlarge ~ FIGURE 2-3 FY01 President's Budget Request for avionics modernization. Source: PBR, 2000. ~ enlarge ~ FIGURE 2-4 Out-year costs after FY05 for avionics modernization (approximately $5 billion). Source: U.S. Air Force, 2000a.

OCR for page 14
Page 18 Unfortunately, these modifications do not replace high-TOC subsystems or out-of-production avionics components and, therefore, will not substantially improve the DMS/OP picture. For instance, the complex F-16 APG-68 radar has the highest O&M cost of all F-16 avionics, yet none of the planned modifications in the budget involve upgrading or replacing the F-16 radar (PBR, 2000). Because GATM upgrades are considered necessary for aircraft to continue flying, they take priority over the replacement of these high-TOC subsystems. To put the issue in perspective, the shortage of funds available to address the aging avionics problem is so acute that an option under consideration by Air Combat Command is the early retirement of the F-117 stealth fighter because of insufficient funds to replace the infrared acquisition and designation system (IRADS), the color multipurpose display system (CMDS), and the electronic data transfer system (EDTS), all of which are facing obsolescence problems. ~ enlarge ~ FIGURE 2-5 Declining Air Force mission-capable rate. Source: Air Force Magazine, 1999.

OCR for page 14
Page 19 TABLE 2-2 Aircraft Currently in Service Type Quantity Role USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II 127 Close air support/forward air control OA-10 Thunderbolt II 99 Close air support/forward air control B-1B Lancer 81 Strategic bomber B-2A Spirit 19 Strategic bomber B-52H Stratofortress 85 Strategic bomber C-5A Galaxy 28 Transport C-5B Galaxy 50 Transport C-5C Galaxy 2 Transport C-9A/C Nightingale 23 Transport C-12 Huron 36 Transport C-17A Globemaster III 41 Tactical transport C-21A (Learjet 35A) 79 Transport/communications C-23A Sherpa 3 Freight transport VC-25A (Boeing 747) 2 Presidential transport C-27A Spartan (G.222) 10 Transport C-130E/H/J Hercules 183 Transport EC-130E/H Hercules 22 Electronic intelligence AC-130H/U Spectre 21 Gunship MC-130E/H/P Hercules 66 Special operations NC-130 Hercules 4 Test and evaluation C-135A/B/C/E 7 Transport EC-135 12 Electronic intelligence OC-135 3 “Open Sky” Treaty RC-135 20 Reconnaissance KC-135 249 Tanker NKC-135 2 Tanker C-137B/C 6 VIP transport C-141B Starlifter 95 Transport E-3B/C Sentry 32 AWACS E-4B (Boeing 747) 4 AACP E-8C J-STARS 5 Surveillance E-9A (DHC Dash-8) 2 Range surveillance EC-18B/D (Boeing 707) 4 Reconnaissance/surveillance F-15A/B/C/D Eagle 404 Fighter F-15E Eagle 201 Fighter/attack F-15A/B/C/D Eagle 14 Test F-16A Fighting Falcon 3 Fighter/attack F-16B Fighting Falcon 18 Fighter/attack F-16C Fighting Falcon 568 Fighter/attack F-16D Fighting Falcon 88 Fighter/attack F-117 Nighhawk 52 Attack KC-10A Stratotanker 59 Tanker RQ-1A Predator (UAV) 6 Reconnaissance/surveillance TG-3 (glider) 3 Reconnaissance/surveillance TG-4 (glider) 14 Reconnaissance/surveillance TG-7 (glider) 9 Training TG-9 (glider) 4 Reconnaissance/surveillance TG-10 (glider) 1 Training TG-11 (glider) 2 Training HH-1H Iroquois 8 Missile support UH-1N Iroquois 64 Missile support TH-53A Sea Stallion 6 Search and rescue MH-53J Sea Stallion 40 Special operations HH-60G Black Hawk 54 Search and rescue MH-60G Black Hawk 10 Special operations T-1A Jayhawk 183 Training T-3A Firefly 111 Training T-37B Tweet 415 Training T-38A Talon 414 Training AT-38B Talon 78 Training T-41 Mescalero 3 Training T-43A (Boeing 737) 10 Training CT-43A (Boeing 737) 1 Training TC-18E (Boeing 707) 2 Training UV-18 Twin Otter 2 Parachute training U-2R/S 31 Reconnaissance TU-2R/S 4 Training WC-130H/W 3 Weather reconnaissance Total 4,307 Air Force Reserve (AFRES) 27 Close air support OA-10 Thunderbolt II 27 Forward air control B-52H Stratofortress 9 Strategic bomber C-130 Hercules 112 Transport C-141B Starlifter 44 Transport C-5A Galaxy 32 Transport F-16C Fighting Falcon 56 Fighter/attack F-16D Fighting Falcon 8 Fighter/attack HH-60G Black Hawk 21 Special operations/search and rescue KC-135E/R 75 Tanker WC-130H/W 10 Weather reconnaissance Total 421 Air National Guard (ANG) A-10 Thunderbolt II 78 Close air support OA-10 Thunderbolt II 18 Close air support B-1B Lancer 14 Strategic bomber C-5A Galaxy 14 Transport C-130 Hercules 215 Transport C-141B Starlifter 16 Transport C-21 (Learjet 35A) 4 Transport/commun. C-22B (Boeing 727) 3 Transport C-26A/B (Metro III) 11 Transport F-15A/B/C/D Eagle 90 Interception F-16A Fighting Falcon 102 Fighter/attack F-16B Fighting Falcon 26 Fighter/attack F-16C Fighting Falcon 340 Fighter/attack F-16D Fighting Falcon 29 Fighter/attack HH-60G Black Hawk 17 Special operations/search and rescue KC-135 Stratotanker 225 Tanker T-43 (Boeing 737) 2 Training Total 1,204 Grand Total 5,932 Source: U.S. Air Force, 2000b.

OCR for page 14
Page 20 DECLINING READINESS Beyond the problem of rising maintenance/logistics costs and insufficient resources for modernization is the fundamental issue of combat and mobility readiness. The Air Force reports that mission-capable rates for its aircraft have declined by 10 percentage points—from 83 percent to 73 percent— since 1991. And rates of cannibalization (a measure of how often maintenance crews must take a part off one aircraft to maintain another) increased by 78 percent between 1995 and 1998, indicating a shortage of spare parts (CBO, 2000). These data are illustrated in Figure 2-5 . Although the committee does not have specific data linking the decline in readiness to aging avionics, the fact that avionics maintenance accounts for approximately one-third of total aircraft maintenance costs supports this conclusion. Air Force officials from the Air Combat Command and Air Mobility Command interviewed by committee members confirmed the linkage (personal communications with Brig. Gen. Randolph Bigum, director of requirements, Air Combat Command; and Maj. Gen. Michael Wooley, commander, Tanker Air-Lift Control Center, Air Mobility Command, September 26, 2000). The magnitude of the Air Force's aging avionics problem cannot be fully comprehended without considering the diversity of types of aircraft flown (68 in the Air Force, 11 in the Air Force Reserve, and 17 in the Air National Guard), the small fleets of some types of aircraft (e.g., only 1 CT-43A), the multiple versions of the same aircraft (e.g., F-15 A, B, C, D, and E), and multiple users of the same aircraft (e.g., A-10 used by Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard). In light of these data ( Table 2.2 ), the committee concluded that the magnitude of the aging avionics problem is large and is growing. This urgent problem must be addressed by Air Force management through enterprise management supported by informed program management.