Air Force Contracting:

Procurement of Piston Rings for the F-16 Aircraft

NSIAD-86-127BR: Published: May 28, 1986. Publicly Released: May 28, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed a recent Air Force decision that a certain firm was not an approved source for a component of the F-16 aircraft integrated servoactuator (ISA), which controls the aircraft's flaperons and horizontal stabilizers.

The firm had contended that: (1) its component was of equal quality with the approved source; (2) the only difference between its component and the approved component was the size; and (3) it could supply the component at a substantial saving to the Air Force. The Air Force considered ISA to be a single-point-failure item since its failure would result in loss of the aircraft; therefore, qualification testing was an important safety factor. GAO found that: (1) the component did not qualify and the firm was not approved as a source for the component; (2) the fact that the firm was an approved source on a similar but different-size component was not adequate justification for the Air Force to waive testing; (3) although the Air Force erred in allowing the contractor to use the component in ISA repair kits, it has prohibited continued use of the component and has initiated action to identify and remove those components already installed; and (4) it was inappropriate to compare the price of an approved source and an unapproved source since the unapproved source has not incurred the qualification costs and allocated them to the price of the component.

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