The Pentagon Inspector General (IG) has criticised the US Air Force’s (USAF) plans to invest around $8.8bn to buy, operate and maintain 46 MQ-9 Reapers, which may not be used.
In its audit report, the US Department of Defense (DOD) IG found that the USAF had failed to justify its purchase of a total 401 MQ-9 Reapers at an estimated cost of $76.8bn.
The Air Combat Command (ACC) officials failed to follow the Joint Capabilities Integration Development System requirement to secure Joint Requirements Oversight Council approval for an increase in procurement.
The USAF also failed to conduct and maintain consistent, complete and verifiable analyses for determining the necessary aircraft quantity.
The report stated: "The Air Combat Command (ACC) officials failed to follow the Joint Capabilities Integration Development System requirement to secure Joint Requirements Oversight Council approval for an increase in procurement."
The DoD recommends that the director of plans, programmes and requirements at ACC headquarters conduct a rigorous review of how many Reapers are needed to perform specific missions, including training, test, Air National Guard needs, backup and attrition reserve.
The analysis will then be submitted to the air force requirements oversight council and the joint requirements oversight council for approval of cost and quantity before finalising any further purchases.
Additionally, the DoD recommends the Chairman of the Air Force Requirements Oversight Council to validate the necessary quantity and cost in the updated MQ-9 production document prior to providing the updated production document to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council for revalidation.
As part of the fiscal year 2015 President’s Budget Request, the USAF had sought funds to procure 83 more Reapers, according to flightglobal.com.
According to budget documents, the aircraft would be purchased in batches each year through 2019 at a total cost of $6.47bn.