B-2 Bomber:

Comparison of Operational Capabilities and Support Costs for 15 Versus 20 Aircraft

NSIAD-93-209: Published: Aug 20, 1993. Publicly Released: Aug 20, 1993.


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In response to congressional requests, GAO reviewed the operational and support plans for the B-2 bomber, focusing on the differences in the bomber's conventional operational capabilities, military construction funding, and operations and maintenance costs for 20 aircraft instead of 15 aircraft.

GAO found that: (1) the B-2 force's size will limit its conventional missions primarily to precision strikes at high-priority targets; (2) a small B-2 force could meet or exceed the operational capabilities of the larger, diversified force used in Operation Desert Storm; (3) the additional 5 aircraft will increase the B-2 operational capacity by 45 percent; (4) the B-2 force will be fully capable in 1998, but improvements in precision weapons and radar detection avoidance systems must be made before it can achieve full capabilities; (5) $42 million in military construction costs and $100 million in spare parts costs is still needed for additional aircraft; (6) manufacturing costs would be reduced by $1.1 billion and some logistics support cost would be less if the number of aircraft procured is reduced to 15; and (7) operation and maintenance costs would be $61.9 million more a year for 20 aircraft and total $1.55 billion over the 25-year life of the bombers.

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