Opportunities To Reduce the Cost of Some B-52 Modifications

MASAD-82-30: Published: Apr 9, 1982. Publicly Released: Apr 9, 1982.

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C. William Moore
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GAO reviewed the Air Force's revised plans for structuring the strategic bomber force. The Air Force now plans to buy 100 B-1B aircraft, reduce the number of B-52G aircraft that will be equipped to carry cruise missiles, equip all B-52H aircraft with cruise missiles, and retire all B-52D aircraft by the end of 1986. The B-52G aircraft which are not equipped with cruise missiles will assume the conventional bombing role previously assigned to the B-52D aircraft.

GAO found that certain costly items may not be needed in view of the missions of the various models of the B-52 aircraft and their expected life in the force. The offensive avionics system (OAS) modification could be scaled back on 67 B-52G's by deleting unneeded components for a potential savings of $21.6 million. The OAS modification includes redundant inertial navigation and computer processor systems to ensure successful cruise missile launch even if the primary units fail; this is desirable, but not required since other B-52 systems could provide the necessary information. The B-52G's will replace the B-52D's when they retire, and the use of systems and processors acquired for B-52D's on other B-52 aircraft could further reduce OAS funding needs by $33 million. The navigation systems are identical to those used in the OAS, and the computer processors could be modified for the new aircraft. Accounting for all B-52D assets before the aircraft are retired could eliminate buying more items than are needed. In addition, a $35 million modification to comply with the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty II requirements for aircraft identification may not be needed on B-52H aircraft that carry cruise missiles.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD does not intend action. It contends that: (1) the inertial navigation systems and computer processors are needed for the B-52G's to perform their missions; (2) their elimination would adversely impact on program costs, program risks, and force maintainability; and (3) some OAS equipment from B-52D's might not be available

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Air Force not to procure any additional OAS modification kits or components until: (1) fiscal year 1983 and 1984 requirements for inertial navigation systems and computer processors have been reduced to account for those not needed on 67 B-52G's and those already acquired for B-52D's; and (2) a comprehensive review of the OAS package and related B-52 mission needs has been made and any additional unneeded kits or components have been eliminated.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Air Force not to install strakelets on any B-52H aircraft until he is satisfied that this installation is necessary and that no less costly alternative is available.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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