Major Issues Concerning the C-X Range Payload Remain Unresolved

MASAD-81-24: Published: Apr 6, 1981. Publicly Released: Apr 6, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the major issues concerning the C-X aircraft program, including the aircraft's limited range and load carrying capabilities. GAO summarized these issues in a report to the Secretary of Defense, dated October 10, 1980, which recommended that the Air Force delay issuing requests for proposals (RFP) for the aircraft's full-scale engineering development until these issues were resolved.

The Air Force has begun to evaluate proposals received from three major contractors and plans to award a development contract for the C-X if the program is approved and if congressional funding is authorized. The Air Force estimates that the program could include about 200 aircraft at a cost of $10 to $11 billion for development and production. GAO believes that the C-X range and payload issues discussed in the previous report warrant further consideration, especially the range and payload requirements for the C-X. GAO still believes that the Air Force is specifying a C-X design which is sacrificing the aircraft's primary mission of intertheater airlift to achieve a greater capability to operate within a theater on small, austere airfields. The Air Force requested the contractors to propose an aircraft designed to meet or exceed certain minimum performance specifications and which could best complete the airlift requirements of four airlift scenarios described in the RFP. Although the Air Force has emphasized the importance of procuring a C-X aircraft with the ability to use small, austere airfields, the C-X mission element need statement (MENS) states that the feasibility of requiring this capability will depend upon the extent of its penalty to the primary mission.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should reassess the range and payload issues discussed to determine if the C-X aircraft being considered by the Air Force provides the capability to fill the mission need as stated in the C-X MENS. In addition, should the Secretary determine that a smaller aircraft is not appropriate, the proposal evaluation currently underway should be terminated and the RFP reissued on the basis of the reassessment.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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