Strategic Bombers:

B-1B Cost and Performance Remain Uncertain

NSIAD-89-55: Published: Feb 3, 1989. Publicly Released: Feb 3, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the status of the: (1) major B-1B bomber systems; (2) test program; (3) current B-1B cost estimates; and (4) cost estimates for identified enhancements.

GAO found that the Air Force: (1) corrected some previously identified production and performance problems involving flight controls and terrain-following radar; (2) will require a $1 billion redesign of B-1B defensive avionics to achieve expected capabilities; (3) continued to progress well in its testing program, although it had not demonstrated full performance; (4) spent about $31 billion in escalated dollars for 100 B-1B aircraft, including about $3.7 billion for such non-baseline items as simulators and interim contractor support; (5) estimated that it needed $921 million in additional funding to complete the program; (6) believed that its final program cost would be very close to the established cost cap of $20.5 billion; (7) estimated that potential enhancements to the B-1B aircraft could exceed $7 billion; (8) did not accurately detail the current cost, schedule, and performance status of the B-1B program in its most recent selected acquisition report to Congress; and (9) must address several important technical questions regarding defense avionics corrections, flight control improvements, cruise missile carrier effectiveness, and multipurpose bomber potential before it can determine final program costs.

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