U.S. Airlift Requirements Should Be Satisfied Through Competition

MASAD-82-11: Published: Dec 18, 1981. Publicly Released: Dec 18, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the Air Force's C-X airlift aircraft program. The Air Force has been studying various alternatives for obtaining additional airlift capability. Alternatives considered include: Civil Reserve Air Fleet enhancements; the procurement of commercial wide-bodied aircraft or derivatives thereof; and procurement of military airlifters. The Air Force has recommended the procurement of the C-X as the desired military airlifter. Congress did not appropriate funds for the C-X program for fiscal year 1982. Instead, $50 million was appropriated to initiate the procurement of wide-bodied aircraft.

The Department of Defense may not solicit the maximum practicable competition if an airlifter other than the C-X is to be selected to meet U.S. airlift requirements. Failure to do so could result in sole-source awards for multibillion dollar systems without permitting industry the opportunity to make proposals for an aircraft with different size and capabilities than the C-X. Realizing that there are trade-offs, every effort should be made to obtain the best mix of modern, capable, and economical systems possible since they will probably be in the Air Force inventory well into the next century.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD believes the GAO recommendation in this case has no merit. The current review under Code 951705 is pursuing the issues involved on the decision of DOD to acquire C-5 aircraft and other issues related to the near term airlift enhancement program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Air Force to solicit the maximum competition practicable for airlifters being considered to satisfy mission shortfalls.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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