The Government Accountability Office has urged the Defense Department to defer a production decision on the extended-range variant of the Air Force’s Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile until DOD officials re-evaluate the JASSM program’s affordability and cost-effectiveness. DOD has tentatively scheduled a review in November to decide whether JASSM-ER is ready to enter low-rate production. “A reevaluation of the JASSM program, given that most of its costs have yet to be incurred, is warranted before the decision to produce the JASSM-ER is made,” reads GAO’s October report. GAO acknowledges that the baseline JASSM’s performance has “significantly” improved since 2007 and that the JASSM-ER has done well in its testing so far. But it still has concerns over cost growth in the program. DOD, responding to GAO’s recommendation, asserted that JASSM-ER is ready for a production decision and has met expectations in flight tests. (Lockheed statement)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.