The B-1 Bomber Program--A New Start

MASAD-83-21: Published: Apr 13, 1983. Publicly Released: Apr 13, 1983.

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GAO reviewed the B-1B bomber program because of its strategic importance, cost, and compressed development and production schedule. In the review, GAO examined the cost estimates, management plans, and cost performance reports.

GAO found that the B-1B program cost estimate still omits known program costs which could obscure congressional visibility of the acquisition. GAO stated that the guidance which defined the program acquisition costs permitted varying interpretations of what was to be included in major acquisition cost estimates. Therefore, many costs excluded from the program cost estimate historically have been included in the weapon system acquisition cost estimates but should have been included in the B-1B estimate. GAO found that the Air Force plans to limit program acquisition costs through multiyear procurement initiatives. However, it has not demonstrated that the program meets the procurement criteria for that type of contracting. Multiyear criteria require a program to have a stable design. In addition, GAO found that the B-1B maintenance concept depends upon built-in test equipment. The Air Force has reported difficulties with other aircraft that have a built-in test system. Failure of the system to perform as desired in this program could result in increased costs, increased personnel needs, or the acceptance of reduced aircraft readiness. GAO also found that the program's logistics planning has been adversely influenced by an Air Force decision to defer the development of logistics in an earlier program, and that the acquisition cost estimate did not include costs to develop depot support. Finally, GAO questioned the testing methodology used and the Air Force's ability to meet some flight test goals.

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