Strategic Bombers:

B-2 Program Status and Current Issues

NSIAD-90-120: Published: Feb 22, 1990. Publicly Released: Feb 22, 1990.

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Nancy R. Kingsbury
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the B-2 Aircraft program, focusing on: (1) cost increases; (2) funding assumptions; (3) program schedule changes; (4) manufacturing problems; and (5) the flight test program.

GAO found that: (1) estimated B-2 costs have increased to $70.2 billion due to incomplete aircraft design at the start of manufacturing, underestimated material costs, and production schedule extensions; (2) it is likely that future funding will not grow to the peak levels required in fiscal years 1992 through 1995, which will increase costs and delay the schedule; and (3) program schedules have changed each year since 1986, which has affected program milestones, the overall procurement strategy, test programs, and program costs. GAO also found that B-2 contractors: (1) reduced the number of manufacturing defects, improved worker efficiency, and transferred less work to the final assembly site; and (2) continued to initiate engineering changes, which hindered efforts to stabilize the manufacturing process. In addition, GAO found that: (1) the Air Force had completed only 1 percent of the B-2 flight test program; and (2) critical operational testing was scheduled to begin in 1992.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The House Armed Services Committee directed the agency, by letter dated March 9, 1990, to provide an analysis of alternative acquisition plans. Depending upon the outcome of the actions taken, an accomplishment report may be prepared.

    Matter: Congress may wish to require the Secretary of Defense to provide an analysis of alternative acquisition plans for the B-2 program, including various annual funding levels. This analysis would provide Congress with information on options for future funding decisions and their related impact on B-2 cost and schedule.


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