B-2 Bomber:

Cost to Complete 20 Aircraft Is Uncertain

NSIAD-94-217: Published: Sep 8, 1994. Publicly Released: Sep 13, 1994.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO provided information on B-2 bomber acquisition costs, focusing on the Air Force's ability to complete the acquisition of 20 aircraft within the cost limitation.

GAO found that: (1) although Congress has appropriated $39.6 billion through fiscal year (FY) 1994 for the B-2 acquisition program, significant development, testing, production, and modification efforts remain if the 20 B-2 operational aircraft are to meet their final performance configurations; (2) the Air Force plans to use its funding request over a 10-year period; (3) although the Air Force believes that the total program cost limitation will be sufficient to complete the program, it has not supported its analysis and cost estimate with adequate documentation; (4) in 1993, an independent review of the B-2 program determined that the program may be vulnerable to significant cost increases; (5) considerable uncertainty remains as to whether the Air Force will be able to complete the B-2 acquisition within the program's time and cost limitations because a majority of B-2 flight testing has not been completed and performance problems have not been corrected; (6) the Air Force expects that most of the remaining B-2 program funding will be spent on support costs; and (7) Congress has required the Air Force to report on the most cost-effective use of both public and private facilities to support the B-2 program before it establishes an organic maintenance activity.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force completed the required documentation in January 1995.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the B-2 Program Office to complete the annual cost estimate and the supporting documentation for the FY 1996 President's budget.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD stated that it will ensure that future B-2 cost estimates and documentation are updated before future budget submissions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should require the B-2 Program Office to prepare updated cost estimates and the supporting documentation before future annual budgets are submitted to Congress.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force


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