Tactical Aircraft Modernization: Issues for Congress Page: 2 of 17
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Tactical Aircraft Modernization: Issues for Congress
This report examines the Department of Defense's (DOD's) three largest tactical aircraft
modernization programs. The "Background" section provides a brief description of each program
and a discussion of how tactical aircraft fit into military air operations: the missions they typically
perform and how they contrast to longer-range combat aircraft.
The "Analysis: Key Issues to Consider" section examines a number of policy issues, including
affordability, capability required, force structure, and defense industrial base. The paper
concludes with a synopsis of congressional action on these programs.
The Defense Department is procuring the F-22 fighter for the Air Force, the F/A-18E/F
fighter/attack plane for the Navy, and the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft in three variants, some
of which might be operational around 2012.
Decisions in Congress and the Defense Department regarding these aircraft programs may have
important long-term implications. The F/A-18E/F is in full-rate production. The F-22 is nearing
the end of its planned production. The JSF might be in production through the 2020s. Decisions
about the funding of these programs will influence the future of individual U.S. aircraft
manufacturers, and may well affect the division of combat roles and missions among the services
Some in Congress have expressed concern about the need for some of these aircraft programs on
grounds of cost and affordability, and military requirements. Some in Congress have also
expressed concern over the potential impact of these aircraft programs on the defense industrial
base. This report will be updated as events warrant.
This report replaces Issue Brief IB92115 of the same title.
Congressional Research Service
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Tactical Aircraft Modernization: Issues for Congress, report, December 17, 2008; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc810042/m1/2/: accessed December 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.