Costs of Alternative Munitions Lift Trailers for Strategic Bombers

NSIAD-85-142: Published: Aug 28, 1985. Publicly Released: Aug 28, 1985.

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GAO evaluated the impact of an Air Force proposal to develop and acquire a new type of munitions lift trailer for B-1B bombers instead of acquiring additional quantities of existing lift trailers.

The Air Force initiated an industrywide competition for a simplified munitions lift trailer for its B-1B bomber because existing lift trailers could not satisfy height requirements. The Air Force also approved development of an improved version of the lift trailer being used for B-52 bombers to meet B-1B requirements. The Air Force then compared the best of the new designs with the improved current lift trailer and found that both met all of its requirements but that the life cycle cost of the new trailer was less. The Air Force then announced its decision to acquire 90 new lift trailers. GAO reviewed: (1) the life cycle costs of both trailers; (2) potential savings from competitive procurement of current lift trailers; (3) potential contractor schedule problems; and (4) the impact of either type of lift trailer on the total bomber force, particularly the advanced technology bomber (ATB). GAO found that: (1) acquisition of 90 newly designed lift trailers would cost about $10 million less over 15 years than the same number of improved trailers of current design; (2) competitive procurement for the existing trailers might realize a savings of $3 million, but the cost of the new design would still be $5 to $7 million lower; (3) further delay of a decision on the type of trailer to purchase could result in a serious schedule problem for the contractor of the newly designed trailer; and (4) procurement of the newly designed trailers for both the B-1B and the ATB would result in the lowest life-cycle cost for the total bomber force.

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