Review of Manned Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Program

B-146759: Published: Feb 28, 1963. Publicly Released: Feb 28, 1963.

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GAO reviewed the Manned Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Program of the Atomic Energy Commission and the Department of Defense (DOD).

GAO noted that: (1) at the time of termination, the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Program (ANP) was still in the research and development stage, with primary emphasis on high performance reactors; (2) although a number of research and development achievements can be credited to this program, at the time of termination an airplane had never been flown on nuclear power nor had a prototype airplane been built; (3) the ANP program was characterized by frequent changes in emphasis and objectives, varying from a research and development program to an accelerated program to develop a weapon system for the Air Force; (4) the ANP program was carried out in competition with other programs for national defense; (5) although it was outside GAO's scope to examine the reasonableness of or justification for the frequent changes in program objectives, GAO does not believe that a research and development effort of the complexity and magnitude of the ANP program can reach its goal in an effective and efficient manner unless a certain degree of stability in objectives is accorded to the program; and (6) during GAO's review it noted various indications that DOD did not furnish sufficient and timely guidance for the ANP program and that program reorientations were not formalized on a timely basis.

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