Military Airlift:

C-17 Faces Schedule, Cost, and Performance Challenges

NSIAD-89-195: Published: Aug 18, 1989. Publicly Released: Aug 18, 1989.

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GAO evaluated the Air Force's progress in meeting the C-17 aircraft program's schedule, cost, and performance goals.

GAO found that: (1) reduced funding in fiscal years 1986 and 1987 delayed the aircraft's fabrication and assembly by 9 months and its first flight until August 1990; (2) the Air Force may not meet the test flight date because the assembly schedule has a high degree of risk, projected late deliveries of tooling and parts could delay assembly, and subcontractor development of key avionics systems is behind schedule; (3) current program acquisition cost estimates have increased $3 billion over the original $34.5 billion and do not include $437 million for the defense systems the Air Force planned to develop; (4) although the Air Force requested funding through 1993 so it could conduct an interim review after initial flight tests, it only received funding for low-rate production through 1991; (5) although the contractor projected that the aircraft would meet approved requirements, the aircraft's projected weight had already increased to the maximum allowable to meet current payload and range requirements; (6) the Air Force planned to install defense systems to detect and counter combat threats, and to conduct live-fire tests on a representative section of the aircraft's wing to determine its vulnerability to combat damage; and (7) due to continuing problems in the contractor's ability to effectively address existing assembly and avionics development problems, the Air Force extended the planned first flight to December 1990.

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