Department of Defense Should Resolve Major Issues Regarding Reengining the KC-135 Aircraft Before Continuing the Program

PSAD-80-80: Published: Sep 23, 1980. Publicly Released: Sep 23, 1980.

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A review was undertaken of the Air Force's KC-135 tanker aircraft reengining modification program. The reengining modification is a complex effort involving extensive development and testing that will reportedly provide several benefits. These include increasing KC-135 survivability, safety, fuel efficiency, and fuel off-load capability. The reengined KC-135 will also be quieter and produce fewer pollutants. The purpose of the review was to determine the program's status and to identify unresolved pertinent issues. The issues addressed included questions concerning the program's pace, cost effectiveness, need, and affordability.

The GAO review of the Air Force's KC-135 tanker aircraft reengining modification program showed that the primary reason for reengining the KC-135 is the need for additional aerial tanker off-load capability. Although the program is in the early stages of full-scale development and meets all the criteria of a major system acquisition, it has not been designated a major system and subjected to review by the Defense System Acquisition Review Council (DSARC). A review by DSARC is particularly critical at this time because of Air Force plans to award contracts, totaling about $140 million, for the initial effort to modify the first KC-135 aircraft and to complete research and development. Further, while a mission element needs statement has been prepared for the program, it has not yet been approved by the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

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