B-2 Bomber:

Status of Cost, Development, and Production

NSIAD-95-164: Published: Aug 4, 1995. Publicly Released: Aug 4, 1995.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the status of the B-2 bomber program, focusing on the Air Force's progress in: (1) acquiring 20 operational B-2 aircraft; and (2) flight testing, production, and modification efforts.

GAO found that: (1) a recent Air Force cost estimate indicates the final cost for 20 operational aircraft will be about $28,820 million in fiscal year (FY) 1981 constant dollars, or 99.5 percent of the legislated amount, in then-year dollars, the current estimated cost totals $44,389 million (91 percent of this amount has been appropriated through FY 1995); (2) although ground and flight tests have demonstrated the structural integrity, flying qualities, and aerodynamic performance of the B-2's flying wing design, GAO's review of the program's progress indicates that there are many important events yet to be completed; (3) many risks can impact the ultimate cost and completion of the 20 operational B-2 aircraft; the flight test program is only about half complete and modification efforts are scheduled concurrently; and deficiencies that are operationally important or costly to correct could be identified before the test program is completed; (4) after 14 years of development and evolving mission requirements, including 6 years of flight testing, the Air Force has yet to demonstrate that the B-2 design will meet some of its most important mission requirements; (5) test progress has been slower than planned, the test program is planned for completion in July 1997, GAO's analysis of the tests to be completed and the time that may be needed to complete them indicates that completion by July 1997 is optimistic; (6) the Department of Defense (DOD) believes that the test program will be completed by July 1997 as currently planned; (7) to provide additional test time, the Air Force is considering extending the time that test aircraft will remain in the active flight test program and is exploring ways to consolidate flight tests or reduce them to ensure flight test objectives will be completed by the planned date; (8) the flight test program depends on timely delivery of software to bring together the functions of the various B-2 subsystems so that the aircraft and crew can perform the planned military functions, but in the past B-2 integration software was delivered late, without all the planned capabilities, and with deficiencies significantly affecting the Air Force's ability to complete flight testing on schedule; (9) the Tri-Service Standoff Missile was cancelled; integration costs for a replacement may be funded separately and may not be counted as part of the B-2 cost limitation; (10) after 9 years of producing and assembling aircraft, the prime contractor continues to experience difficulties in delivering B-2s that can meet Air Force operational requirements; and (11) in February 1995 DOD concluded a lengthy effort to define a depot support plan which includes a mix of contractor and organic support for defined functions and components.

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