Intelligence Programs:

New RC-135 Aircraft Engines Can Reduce Cost and Improve Performance

NSIAD-92-305: Published: Aug 25, 1992. Publicly Released: Sep 14, 1992.

Additional Materials:


Louis J. Rodrigues
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Defense's replacement of engines on its RC-135 aircraft, focusing on: (1) the estimated cost; (2) the projected savings in future operations and maintenance; and (3) the operational benefits.

GAO found that: (1) as of May 1992, the Air Force estimated that the cost for replacing the RC-135 aircraft's engines would be about $631 million, plus an additional $24 million to $40 million for spares; (2) the Air Force has allocated $445.5 million through fiscal year 1997 to replace engines on 15 aircraft, and the Defense Intelligence Agency has designated engine replacement funds for its three aircraft, but these funds are subject to reallocation; (3) the replacement of engines for the remaining three aircraft is presently unfunded; (4) the potential savings from replacing the engines are $1.5 billion through 2020; and (5) the new engines could improve operational performance, such as increased engine reliability, increased safety in marginal take-off and landing conditions, increased operating altitudes, and decreased pollution.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD has indicated action will be taken and some funds have been made available. Also, congressional language was incorporated in the fiscal year 1993 Senate appropriations mark up report endorsing the recommended RC-135 engine replacement program.

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider directing the Secretary of Defense to ensure adequate funding to complete the RC-135 engine replacement program.


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