Aircraft

Research insights into aircraft selection and maintenance, crew training, test facilities, and airspace access are valuable to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and U.S. and allied air forces. RAND studies have also examined military air power and aerospace industry issues.

  • A Hellenic Air Force Canadair CL-415 drops water over a forest fire northeast of Athens in August 2009

    Commentary

    Investing in Firefighting

    While the U.S. Forest Service has not completely agreed with RAND's proposal to transition to a fleet dominated by water-dropping scooper aircraft for fighting fires, they have leased one CL-415 scooper aircraft. It might be more cost-effective for the USFS to simply purchase it outright.

    Dec 30, 2013

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

    Commentary

    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

    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

    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

  • preflight checks inside an F-35A Lightning II

    Commentary

    Innovation and America's 21st Century Air Force

    Lost in the US defense budget debates are deeper issues about the relationship between the military and American society. In many ways, these issues are especially stark for the Air Force. Can the US Air Force improve this connection?

    Nov 26, 2013

  • Pakistani girl holds up a picture she drew depicting the U.S. drone strike on her village which killed her grandmother

    Commentary

    The Downside of Drones

    The chief political drawback is that target countries' populations view drone attacks as violations of their sovereignty every bit as much as manned raids. The chief military drawback: A drone attack destroys the critical intelligence that is needed to ensure that the tactical strike can be converted to strategic advantage.

    Nov 1, 2013

  • Heide Couch,Travis Air Force Base,60AMW/PA,Base Mulitmedia Service Center,BMSC,TAFB,military,air force,photo lab,us air force photo,-F-RU983-

    Report

    Implications of an Air Force Budget Downturn on the Aircraft Industrial Base

    The U.S. Air Force is facing a number of challenges as a result of the current defense budget downturn. RAND examined the challenge of modernizing the Air Force's aircraft fleet while trying to sustain the industrial base with limited funding.

    Nov 1, 2013

  • Lockheed C-5A Galaxy

    Dissertation

    Capacity Management and Changing Requirements: Cost Effective Decision Making in an Uncertain World

    Explores other options for dealing with excess Air Force fleet capacity and their relative cost effectiveness.

    Oct 30, 2013

  • The opening of the 1st Afghan National Army Special Operations Brigade, Aug. 20, 2013

    Commentary

    The Future of Counterterrorism: Fewer Drones, More Partnerships

    Drones are just one of three principal U.S. counterterrorism tools. Special Operations forces are now relying on a more balanced mix of tactics: Launching raids and developing partner forces offer more versatility than drone strikes and will probably become the wave of the future as America's big wars wind down.

    Oct 21, 2013

  • U.S. marines during a live-fire exercise on the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio

    Blog

    Do U.S. Raids in Libya, Somalia Signal a Shift in Terror Strategy?

    The raids that the United States conducted over the weekend in Libya and Somalia could signal a new focus in Washington on capturing terrorist suspects and gathering intelligence rather than relying on drone strikes. RAND experts Linda Robinson, Angel Rabasa, and Seth Jones comment.

    Oct 10, 2013

  • Reaper drone

    Multimedia

    Events @ RAND Podcast: Drones

    In September 2013, Ted Harshberger, director of RAND Project AIR FORCE, moderated a panel discussion on current military and nonmilitary use of drones and other potential applications.

    Sep 25, 2013

  • California Air National guardsmen perform precision water bucket drops near Yosemite

    Commentary

    The Desirability of 'Free' C-27s for the U.S. Forest Service

    Although we believe that a scooper-centric firefighting aircraft portfolio for initial attack would still be preferred, Air Force-provided 1,850-gallon C-27Js could be a cost-effective component of the retardant-bearing portion of the Forest Service's airborne firefighting arsenal, write Edward G. Keating and Daniel M. Norton.

    Sep 6, 2013

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

    Commentary

    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

  • Report

    Report

    Costs of Flying Units in Air Force Active and Reserve Components

    Presents a methodology for compiling and comparing the costs of operating Air Force active- and reserve-component flying units and discusses how such comparisons can be used to explore force mix alternatives.

    Jul 9, 2013

  • Report

    Report

    Crisis Stability and Long-Range Strike: A Comparative Analysis of Fighters, Bombers, and Missiles

    In an international crisis, the United States must balance its threats with restraint while limiting its vulnerability. A RAND study sought to identify which long-range strike assets offer capabilities most conducive to stabilizing such crises.

    Jun 19, 2013

  • Wildfire air tanker

    Commentary

    Firefighting Aircraft: Is Bigger Better?

    An aircraft's capacity and speed largely determine the rate at which water or retardant can be applied to a fire. Very large air tankers (VLATs) certainly have the capacity to apply large amounts of fluids to a fire, but because of the distances travelled they may not be able to get a second load very quickly.

    May 20, 2013

  • An MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft

    Commentary

    Drones Are Useful, but Not the Solution or the Problem

    The effectiveness of our attacks, particularly by drones, has already decimated the al Qaeda hierarchy, writes Harold Brown. That achievement, together with the negative effect on Muslim publics of drone attacks, suggests that the rate of their usage could be moderated.

    May 16, 2013

  • Report

    Report

    Maximizing Throughput at Soft Airfields

    Because soft airfields can support only a limited number of takeoffs and landings, it is important to understand how to maximize the cargo throughput at these soft fields. This report shows that there is an optimum landing weight that allows for maximum cargo delivery. This optimum landing weight is constant and independent of both aircraft ramp weight and the ability of the soil to resist compressive loads.

    Apr 23, 2013

  • Report

    Report

    Commercial Intratheater Airlift: Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Use in U.S. Central Command

    Intratheater airlift delivers critical and time-sensitive supplies to deployed forces, but is it cost effective to use commercial, rather than organic Air Force, aircraft to supply this airlift?

    Apr 8, 2013