Military Airlift:

Air Force Analysis Supports Acquisition of C-17 Aircraft

NSIAD-87-97: Published: Mar 20, 1987. Publicly Released: Apr 3, 1987.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

In response to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Air Force's analysis leading to its decision to develop and produce the C-17 aircraft rather than buy additional C-5 aircraft for its long-range airlift needs, specifically: (1) its airlift requirements and capabilities; (2) the alternatives it considered to alleviate the airlift shortfall; and (3) the criteria and assumptions it used to evaluate the alternatives.

GAO noted that: (1) in 1983, the Air Force concluded that the C-17 aircraft was the most cost-effective way for it to meet its airlift requirements; (2) the Air Force has continued research and development on the C-17 and has obligated almost $600 million for the program; and (3) in 1987, the Air Force received an initial $50 million to produce the C-17 and, over the next 5 years, plans to request about $14 billion to develop and buy it. GAO found that: (1) lower operating and support costs could more than offset higher C-17 acquisition costs, resulting in lower C-17 life-cycle costs than the C-5 alternative; (2) the C-5 cannot match the expected C-17 capability to land and operate at a wide range of airfields closer to the battle area; (3) the C-17 alternative could require about 12,900 fewer personnel than the C-5 alternative; (4) the C-5 alternative could allow the Air Force to increase its airlift capability more quickly, since the C-5 is already in production and the first C-17 would not be ready until 1990; (5) if the Air Force continues with the C-17 program, its costs will probably exceed its estimates by about $2.3 billion; and (6) if the Air Force selects the C-5, it would need an additional $3.6 billion over its estimated costs.

Jan 21, 2021

Jan 19, 2021

Jan 14, 2021

Jan 12, 2021

Dec 10, 2020

Dec 2, 2020

Nov 20, 2020

Nov 19, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here