Logistics Support Costs for the B-1B Aircraft Can Be Reduced

NSIAD-84-36: Published: Sep 20, 1984. Publicly Released: Sep 20, 1984.

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GAO undertook a review to determine whether: (1) reasonable assumptions were being used to determine the B-1B logistics requirements; and (2) aircraft support could be more efficient and economical than that currently planned. GAO focused its review on the planned B-1B logistics support, basing, and maintenance.

GAO found that, while the Air Force's logistics support for the B-1B has been extensive, its logistics planning has been constrained by the inadequacy of the logistics data developed during the research and development of the aircraft's predecessor and a concurrent development and production schedule which forced Air Force planners to make logistics decisions before they had sufficient data. In addition, the Air Force had initially planned the combined purchasing of aircraft components for only about 15 percent of the initial spare parts procurement. However, in 1984, the Air Force used combined purchasing to order 68 percent of its initial spare parts procurements and 22 percent of its replenishments spare parts procurements. Furthermore, buying directly from the manufacturers versus buying from four contractors was not considered. The Air Force is planning to deploy the aircraft at four bases. GAO found that an elimination of one base could potentially save $78 million in new facility costs, $55 million in training and support equipment, and about $25 million per year in personnel costs. GAO believes that deploying some strategic alert aircraft at a fourth location could mitigate the Air Force's concern that fewer bases would increase aircraft vulnerability. Finally, GAO found that centralizing all B-1B avionics repair could reduce acquisition costs by $85 million and operating costs by about $15 million.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the use of the combined procurement procedure to buy all B-1B spares and indicated that the Air Force had adequately implemented the concept of B-1B spares. DOD did not state that this was done as a result of the GAO draft report or provide any estimate of savings. An accomplishment report for $158.9 million was processed and approved.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to use the combined procurement procedure to buy all future B-1B production components and investment spares.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD stated that the Air Force has pursued a component breakout program. However, the statement conflicts with an Air Force audit report, which also found that breakout was not being used and recommended it be pursued during fiscal year 1986. The Air Force agreed and evaluated 20 subsystems. The Air Force estimated that the breakout resulted in savings of $30 million.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to buy all investment spares directly from the manufacturers when quality control will not be jeopardized.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD disagreed citing 4 previous studies to support the 3-level maintenance approach as the most cost-effective. Those studies involved using a 60 to 75-day pipeline for depot repair, not establishing a B-1B avionics repair facility and a 7 to 10-day pipeline. GAO discussed this with congressional staff who agreed and plan to urge the Air Force to act on the recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should evaluate the merits of: (1) repairing all B-1B avionics components at the B-1B airframe and engine depot repair facility; and (2) not establishing any avionics maintenance repair shops at each of the planned B-1B bases.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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