Fighter Aircraft

Military aircraft such as the F-16 and Joint Strike Fighter, which are designed to perform air-to-air combat operations, are the primary means by which armed forces gain air superiority over their opponents in battle. RAND has studied fighter aircraft for many decades to provide civilian and military decisionmakers with critical recommendations on logistics, acquisition support, fleet modernization, and maintenance, to maximize effectiveness and innovation.

  • A pro-Russian separatist at the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 in Ukraine's Donetsk region, July 17, 2014

    Blog

    3 Weapons That Threaten Commercial Planes

    It's relatively rare that commercial aircraft are targeted with weapons built primarily to attack military aircraft, but there are a range of potential threats from such weapons. Given that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was reportedly at 33,000 feet when contact was lost, it seems impossible that the attack could have occurred using a shoulder-fired missile.

    Jul 18, 2014

  • Northrop Grumman test pilots with arm-mounted controllers after successfully launching a drone combat aircraft on the USS George H. W. Bush, May 14, 2013

    Blog

    Will U.S. Air Power Work in Iraq?

    There are many key questions regarding deployment of U.S. air power to Iraq to halt the progress of the Islamic State. How effective would it be? Would it cause a lot of civilian casualties? Is air power alone enough to achieve U.S. objectives?

    Jun 18, 2014

  • U.S. Navy F/A-18A Hornet, aka the Blue Angel

    Periodical

    Falling Short: Joint Aircraft Fail to Deliver Anticipated Savings

    A key purported benefit of joint aircraft is that they save money over separate aircraft for the military services, but joint aircraft programs have historically led to higher-than-expected lifecycle costs and necessitated major compromises in requirements and capability.

    Apr 1, 2014

  • congressional-podcast-teaser-highres

    Multimedia

    Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?

    In this March 28th Congressional Briefing, Mark Lorell discusses how the need to accommodate different service requirements into a single jet fighter design or common design family leads to increased program complexity and cost growth.

    Mar 28, 2014

  • An F-111C of the Royal Australian Air Force in 2006

    Event

    Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?

    Mark Lorell will discuss how historically, the need to accommodate different service requirements into a single design or common design family can lead to increased program complexity and cost growth that may cancel out the theoretical costs savings gained from a joint approach.

    Mar 28, 2014

  • F35s Diverging

    Research Brief

    The Department of Defense Should Avoid a Joint Acquisition Approach to Sixth-Generation Fighter

    Incorporating different service requirements in a single joint aircraft design can lead to greater program complexity, increased technical risk, and weight in excess of what an individual service needs.

    Jan 22, 2014

  • F/A-18C Hornets fly from Andersen Air Base, Guam, during exercise Forger Fury II, 5 December, 2013

    Blog

    Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?

    Joint aircraft programs have not historically saved overall life cycle cost. On average, such programs experienced substantially higher cost growth in acquisition (research, development, test, evaluation, and procurement) than single-service programs.

    Dec 24, 2013

  • joint strike fighter maintenance

    Report

    Enabling Early Sustainment Decisions: Application to F-35 Depot-Level Maintenance

    The U.S. Air Force has long struggled to incorporate new weapon system logistics requirements and support system design considerations into its broader sustainment enterprise early in the acquisition process. RAND developed a framework that helps planners visualize sustainment data and compare new programs with legacy Air Force systems.

    Dec 20, 2013

  • Report

    Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money? Technical Appendixes on Methodology

    These appendixes explain the methodology used in an analysis of whether multiservice joint aircraft acquisition programs actually save Life Cycle Cost.

    Dec 16, 2013

  • Report

    Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?

    This report analyzes whether multiservice joint aircraft acquisition programs actually save Life Cycle Cost, and the implications that joint fighter programs can have for the health of the industrial base and operational and strategic risk.

    Dec 16, 2013

  • U.S. helicopter squadron in the Persian Gulf launches an MK-105 Mod 4 Sled

    Blog

    By Land and by Sea

    There are good reasons for the United States to rethink how it counterbalances Iran, reassures local allies, and projects power with fewer resources. However, tying down large numbers of fighter aircraft in the Gulf is likely only to exacerbate old problems and create new ones.

    Jul 22, 2013

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    Report

    Assessment of Beddown Alternatives for the F-35 - Executive Summary

    The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most costly aircraft acquisition program in Defense Department history. RAND assessed the potential for savings by reconfiguring the U.S. Air Force's combat-coded F-35s into larger squadrons, adjusting the Primary Aerospace Vehicle Authorized (PAA) mix across the Active and Reserve Components, and adjusting the percentage of PAA permanently assigned to locations in the continental United States.

    Apr 3, 2013

  • F-35 Lightning II

    Report

    Assessment of Beddown Alternatives for the F-35

    The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most costly aircraft acquisition program in Defense Department history. RAND assessed the potential for savings by reconfiguring the U.S. Air Force's combat-coded F-35s into larger squadrons, adjusting the Primary Aerospace Vehicle Authorized (PAA) mix across the Active and Reserve Components, and adjusting the percentage of PAA permanently assigned to locations in the continental United States.

    Apr 3, 2013

  • Report

    Naval Aviation Budgeting: Cost Adjustment Sheets and the Flying Hour Program

    RAND assessed the contribution of Cost Adjustment Sheets (CASs) to the accuracy of Navy's Flying Hour Program budgets, whether CAS usage is correlated with expenditure-per-flying-hour growth, and why CASs have been used more by the F/A-18 program.

    Oct 4, 2012

  • News Release

    Flawed Strategy, Not a 'Failure of Air Power,' Led to Israel's Disappointing Performance in 2006 Lebanon War

    Israel's disappointing performance in its war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 did not reflect a "failure of air power," but rather a failure of Israel's political and military leaders to properly assess the enemy, set achievable goals, apply an effective strategy and adequately manage public expectations.

    May 22, 2011

  • Report

    Flawed Strategy, Not a 'Failure of Air Power,' Led to Israel's Disappointing Performance in 2006 Lebanon War

    Israel's disappointing performance in its war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 did not reflect a "failure of air power," but rather a failure of Israel's political and military leaders to properly assess the enemy, set achievable goals, apply an effective strategy and adequately manage public expectations.

    May 22, 2011

  • Testimony

    The J-20 Episode and Civil-Military Relations in China

    Written testimony submitted to the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission on March 10, 2011.

    Mar 10, 2011

  • Report

    Retaining F-22A Tooling: Options and Costs

    For a modest, one-time additional cost of $17 million and a very small additional annual recurring cost, the Air Force can retain all F-22A unique government tools rather than only those required for sustainment.

    Feb 21, 2011

  • Report

    A Methodology for Comparing Costs and Benefits of Management Alternatives for F-22 Sustainment

    The U.S. Air Force asked RAND Project AIR FORCE to perform a congressionally required assessment of contractor versus organic management of F-22 sustainment to determine the most cost-effective approach, the methodology for which is described here.

    Feb 16, 2011

  • Report

    Investment Strategies for Improving Fifth-Generation Fighter Training

    To close training gaps for fifth-generation fighters, documented training requirements and resolution of technological uncertainties related to live, virtual, and constructive training capabilities are needed.

    Feb 10, 2011