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Mission-capable rates down for USAF and Navy aircraft, according to GAO report

Watchdog agency says branches "need to do a better job maintaining the aircraft they have today."

WASHINGTON — It's no secret that the  Air Force and Navy have struggled to maintain aircraft because of age, a lack of parts, and maintenance delays.

And now, there is more bad news.

By the Air Force and Navy's own measurements, aircraft readiness has worsened since fiscal year 2015.

The Government Accountability Office took a look at eight different types of planes, including the Air Force F-22 Raptor, and, the Navy F-A-18 E and F Super Hornet.

The agency found that the "Mission Capable Rates" for all of them were down.

"The bottom line of this report is that the Air Force and the Navy need to do a better job maintaining the aircraft they have today That's absolutely critical for them to be able to carry out their military mission and ensure they have the appropriate level of military readiness," said Diana Maurer, a Director in the GAO Defense Capabilities and Management team, where she currently leads GAO’s work overseeing defense sustainment and readiness issues.

In its report, the GAO said it is of "particular concern" that neither service has completed required "sustainment reviews" related to the specific aircraft in the study. 

The report noted that the 1,355 aircraft reviewed cost taxpayers about $13.6 billion a year to maintain. 

The GAO is making four recommendations to the Air Force and Navy to prioritize and complete required sustainment reviews in a timelier manner and develop plans to remedy risks to aircraft availability.

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