Strategic Bomber:

Issues Relating to the B-1B's Availability and Ability to Perform Conventional Missions

NSIAD-94-81: Published: Jan 10, 1994. Publicly Released: Jan 10, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed issues concerning the B-1B bomber as its operational orientation shifts from nuclear to conventional missions, focusing on the: (1) operational status of the B-1B fleet; and (2) impact of engine problems and structural cracks on the availability of B-1B aircraft.

GAO found that: (1) although the Air Force planned to have 60 of the 95 B-1B aircraft capable of performing combat missions, only 40 B-1B aircraft were ready for combat as of September 1993; (2) although the Air Force requires that 29 of its 65 spare B-1B engines be serviceable at any given time, only 5 engines were serviceable in September 1993; (3) the operational readiness test required by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 provides the best basis for measuring the deployability of B-1B aircraft; (4) ice damage to B-1B engines and the structural cracks found on the aircraft are detriments to achieving increased aircraft availability; (5) the Air Force believes that its attempt to repair cracks on B-1B aircraft will be successful and that major structural modifications will not be necessary; and (6) the Air Force has not determined the cost to repair B-1B structural cracks, but it expects to complete its investigation of the problem in April 1994.

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