Strategic Bombers:

B-1B Maintenance Problems Impede Its Operations

NSIAD-89-15: Published: Oct 24, 1988. Publicly Released: Oct 24, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the status of the Air Force B-1B bomber's maintenance, specifically the: (1) aircraft's test system; (2) delivery of support equipment and repair instructions; (3) contractor engineering support requirements; and (4) effect on aircraft availability.

GAO found that: (1) developmental and operational problems with the on-board test system limited the Air Force's ability to maintain the aircraft as planned; (2) the Air Force determined that the contractors needed to change the specifications to improve the system and to reduce the number of false indications of part failures; (3) replacing the test system's ground processor will cost an estimated $34 million; (4) delays in obtaining support equipment and repair instructions caused the projected Air Force takeover of maintenance operations to slip by about 2 years and increased interim contractor support costs by about $570 million; (5) the Air Force's estimated costs for funding sustaining engineering increased from $101 million to $243 million; (6) the Air Force proposed over 50 reliability and maintainability enhancements totalling more than $586 million; (7) the portion of hours each month that B-1B were not available because of maintenance ranged from 47 to 66 percent, compared to the expected rate of 25 percent; and (8) limited aircraft availability prevented crews from completing mission-ready training, reduced the number of crews receiving training, and delayed the placement of additional aircraft on alert.

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