Defense Acquisitions: Achieving B-2A Bomber Operational Requirements

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-06-10.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                  United States General Accounting Office

GAO               Report to Congressional Committees

June 1999

                  Achieving B-2A
                  Bomber Operational

United States General Accounting Office                                                                    National Security and
Washington, D.C. 20548                                                                              International Affairs Division

                                    B-280223                                                                                  Letter

                                    June 10, 1999

                                    Congressional Committees

                                    The conference report on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal
                                    Year 1994 requires us to report to the congressional defense committees at
                                    regular intervals on the total acquisition costs of the B-2A bomber program
                                    through completion of the production program. In response, we have
                                    issued five reports since 1994.1 Because B-2A production is essentially
                                    completed, this will be the last of these reports. The present report
                                    discusses deficiencies in achieving B-2A operational requirements and the
                                    status of acquisition costs. We have not obtained and evaluated details on
                                    the effectiveness of the B-2As currently employed in Operation Allied
                                    Force. Even though B-2As are employed in that operation, concerns remain
                                    about this aircraft’s ability to achieve the operational requirements
                                    discussed in this report.

Results in Brief                    Operational testing indicated that the B-2A met most operational
                                    requirements, but four significant deficiencies were identified that will
                                    limit or, under some circumstances, slow its pace in flight operations.
                                    These deficiencies included (1) incomplete development of the ground
                                    mission planning system, (2) limited situational awareness for the crew
                                    because defensive avionics do not provide the planned capability,
                                    (3) insufficient reliability and maintainability of low observable materials
                                    and features, and (4) inability to effectively operate B-2As from operational
                                    sites other than the main operating base in Missouri. A March 1999 Air
                                    Force assessment of progress on correcting the deficiencies confirmed that
                                    three of the four had not been remedied, but that one—development of the
                                    ground mission planning system—was nearly corrected. Although the Air
                                    Force is taking steps to improve B-2A operational capabilities, it does not
                                    expect to incorporate all improvements before the next planned
                                    operational milestone, known as Full Operating Capability, which is
                                    scheduled to occur by June 30, 1999.

                                    The Congress has appropriated 98 percent of the funds that in March 1999
                                    the Air Force estimated it would need for the acquisition of 21 block 30

                                     A list of related GAO reports is included at the end of this report.

                   Leter            Page 1                                                       GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions

                     B-2As2 and certain future improvements. This program cost estimate is
                     $44.5 billion and, according to Air Force officials, includes costs to
                     complete development, production, modification, correction of the major
                     deficiencies, and certain improvements to the block 30 configuration. Air
                     Force officials told us, however, that funding requirements for future years
                     and the total acquisition cost for the program may increase. They indicated
                     that certain assumptions used to calculate the March 1999 estimate may no
                     longer be valid. These assumptions include the cost to install certain
                     improvements to low observable features, the period of time the contractor
                     is expected to support the aircraft, and the cost of acquiring shelters for
                     B-2A maintenance.

                     This report contains no recommendations.

Background           The 21 B-2As ordered by the Air Force have been delivered, but most were
                     delivered in configurations known to need modifications. Production was
                     begun and aircraft delivered before developmental and initial operational
                     tests were completed. Accordingly, problems and deficiencies noted in the
                     tests had to be corrected and some features and equipment had to be added
                     after the aircraft were delivered to the Air Force. A comprehensive
                     modification program was designed to correct problems and defects and to
                     incorporate the needed equipment. This modification program was
                     designed to bring each B-2A up to a configuration designated “block 30.”
                     Through January 1999, 12 B-2As were still being modified to the block 30
                     configuration. On average, they were about 50 percent complete. The B-2A
                     acquisition schedule and the overlap of development and production are
                     shown in figure 1.

                     Between the beginning of development and completion of the block 30
                     modification program, 21 years will have elapsed. The next milestone for
                     the program is Full Operating Capability (FOC), which is defined as the
                     capability to meet block 30 operational requirements, operate from a
                     forward operating location, support planned sortie rates, and achieve
                     mission requirements. The commander of the Air Force Air Combat
                     Command is scheduled to determine by June 30, 1999, whether the B-2A

                     2The B-2A’s operational configuration is defined as a block 30 aircraft. The Air Force accepted B-2As in
                     two other configurations, a block 10 training aircraft and block 20 interim capability aircraft, all of
                     which will be upgraded to the block 30 configuration.

             Leter   Page 2                                                     GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions

                                                    has achieved FOC based on an assessment of the B-2A system performance
                                                    measured against the operational requirements.

Figure 1: Overview of the B-2A Acquisition Schedule as of January 1999

 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
                                                               Fiscal year

      Development: Nov. 1981 - Mar. 1998

      Flight test and evaluation: July 1989 - Mar. 1998

      Production program: Nov. 1987 - Nov. 1997

      Block 30 modification: July 1995 - Sept. 2002

      Full operating capability (FOC): Third quarter of fiscal year 1999

                                                    Source: Air Force B-2A Program Baseline Roadmap.

Deficiencies in                                     Initial operational testing and evaluation (completed in June 1997)
                                                    indicated that B-2As in the block 30 configuration met most operational
Achieving Operational                               requirements, but it highlighted four deficiencies. A March 1999 Air Force
Requirements                                        assessment of the progress being made in meeting the B-2A’s operational
                                                    requirements indicated three of these four deficiencies had not been fully
                                                    remedied, but that one was nearly corrected. The four deficiencies were

                                                    • incomplete development of the ground mission planning system,

                                                    Page 3                                             GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions

• limited situational awareness for the crew because defensive avionics
  do not provide the planned capability,
• insufficient reliability and maintainability of low observable materials
  and features, and
• inability to effectively deploy and operate B-2As from operational sites
  other than the main operating base in Missouri.

The Air Force periodically assesses the extent to which it has
demonstrated that B-2A operational requirements are achievable.
Table 1 shows the results of the Air Force’s March 1999 assessment.

Table 1: March 1999 Assessment of Achieving Operational Requirements
Operational requirement                                                  Status of demonstration
Ground mission planning (AFMSS)a                                         Incomplete
Situational awareness (defensive avionics)                               Incomplete
Reliability/Maintainability (low observables)                            Incomplete
Deployment (shelters)                                                    Incomplete
Terrain following and avoidance system                                   Incomplete
Radar                                                                    Incomplete
Signature                                                                Achievable
Penetration                                                              Achievable
GPSb aided targeting system                                              Achievable
Navigation                                                               Achievable
Contrail management system                                               Achievable
Fixed target effectiveness                                               Achievable
Command and control                                                      Achievable
Air refueling                                                            Achievable
All weather                                                              Achievable
Flying qualities                                                         Achievable
In-flight mission planning                                               Achievable
Training                                                                 Achievable
Range and payload                                                        Achievable
 Air Force Mission Support System.
 Global Positioning System.
Note: Requirements italicized were identified as significant deficiencies in operational testing.

Demonstration of terrain-following and avoidance system capability and
radar capability are listed as incomplete on the table; however, test officials

Page 4                                                      GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions

                             indicated that both systems have generally satisfied operational
                             requirements and need only minor improvements for operating in the rain.
                             Testing of new software for these systems should be completed late in

                             In another March 1999 report,3 the Air Force states that the ground mission
                             planning system still has deficiencies but that improvements have been
                             demonstrated, situational awareness (defensive avionics) is unsatisfactory,
                             low observable reliability and maintainability reduces operational
                             capability, and all operational requirements for deployment have not been

Development of Mission       Mission planning is critical to effective B-2A operations. The mission plan
Planning System Incomplete   is intended to provide the crew with the most effective routing to achieve
                             mission goals with the highest survivability for the crew and the weapon
                             system. Air Force officials emphasized that successful use of AFMSS
                             requires mission planners well trained in mission planning and survivability
                             techniques for low observable aircraft.

                             Air Force officials told us the upgraded AFMSS met, as of March 31, 1999,
                             the requirements for operational use with one exception: A component that
                             is unique to mission planning for low observable aircraft was considered
                             unsatisfactory in the March 1999 B-2A follow-on test and evaluation report.
                             However, Air Force officials said the upgraded AFMSS was capable of
                             planning most B-2A missions within the 8-hour operational requirement.

                             The upgraded AFMSS includes a new computer with faster speeds and new
                             software intended to correct most of the deficiencies identified during
                             initial operational testing. Based on development testing of the new system
                             by the contractor, Air Force officials stated the upgraded AFMSS could
                             complete most B-2A mission plans within the 8-hour requirement.
                             However, as of April 20, 1999, Air Force operational testing of AFMSS was
                             incomplete, and operational testers had not yet prepared a B-2A mission
                             plan in the required 8 hours. Air Force test officials conducting the
                             operational testing said that, based on testing completed, it appears AFMSS
                             will meet the 8-hour planning requirement for most of the expected B-2A

                             3On March 14, 1999, the Air Force issued the B-2A follow-on test and evaluation report, which covers
                             operational testing from July 1997 through December 1998. This is the first of two phases of operational
                             testing that follows the initial operational testing that was completed in June 1997.

                             Page 5                                                     GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions

                        missions. In addition, test officials said the AFMSS component used to
                        generate routes that optimize B-2A low observable features is still
                        unsatisfactory. Because of deficiencies in this component—called the
                        common low observable auto-router (CLOAR)—some mission planning
                        timelines could grow to 10 hours. New CLOAR software is scheduled to be
                        tested and delivered to the operational B-2A wing by early 2000. Air Force
                        officials stated that even with the CLOAR improvements there would be
                        some small percentage of missions that could take longer than 8 hours to
                        plan because of the complexity of these missions and their plans.

                        AFMSS is being developed by the Air Force as a separate acquisition
                        program. AFMSS is being integrated with the B-2A weapon system and is
                        being incorporated as part of the block 30 modification.

Limited Situational     Situational awareness requirements for the B-2A stipulate that crews be
Awareness Caused by     provided sufficient information about the threats they encounter on a
                        mission, which will allow them to make adjustments to the mission plan to
Ineffective Defensive
                        ensure survivability of the crew and weapon system. The defensive
Avionics                avionics system was intended to provide B-2A aircrews with information
                        on the location and identity of threats that may be encountered during a
                        B-2A mission.

                        The Air Force spent over $740 million to develop the defensive avionics,
                        which does not provide the planned capability. Developmental and initial
                        operational testing showed the defensive avionics system failed to provide
                        the situational awareness information required. It either incorrectly
                        identified threats or did not provide an accurate location of threats,
                        significantly reducing the situational awareness to the crew. The March
                        1999 B-2A follow-on test and evaluation report states that the defensive
                        avionics is unsatisfactory and there has been little improvement to this
                        component since initial operational testing was completed in June 1997.
                        However, the Air Force believes that the B-2A’s survivability can be
                        obtained through effective tactics, mission planning, and low observability
                        features, and that failure to provide the crew with all of the intended
                        situational awareness information will not prevent the B-2A’s use in combat

                        Air Force officials said the deficiencies in the defensive avionics would be
                        too costly to correct. As a result, the Air Force plans to modify the
                        defensive avionics system to provide a useful capability, but less capability
                        than considered necessary for Air Force operational requirements as

                        Page 6                                      GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions

                             defined in the original contract specification. The cost to make this
                             modification is included in the March 1999 estimate. The Air Force does
                             not expect to complete testing of the reduced capability until November

Inadequate Reliability and   The low observable features and materials on the B-2A are not durable, and
Maintainability for Low      repairs of these features and materials require time-consuming
                             maintenance under environmentally controlled conditions with materials
Observable Materials
                             that require long cure times. These factors diminish the ability of the Air
Reduces Planned Use Rates    Force to fly the aircraft as frequently as operational requirements
for B-2A                     stipulated, especially when the aircraft is deployed to an operating location
                             other than the main operating base in Missouri. Although the Air Force has
                             improved maintenance procedures and has developed improved materials,
                             these problems remain the primary cause for high maintenance times and a
                             reduced pace in flight operations. Further improvements are being pursued
                             to reduce maintenance, increase aircraft availability, and achieve the
                             required pace of flight operations.

                             The March 1999 follow-on test and evaluation report concluded that low
                             observable reliability and maintainability is still the number one challenge
                             for the Air Force because of its impact on B-2A mission capabilities. The
                             report states that poor low observable reliability and lengthy maintenance
                             times reduce mission capable rates, adversely affect aircraft availability for
                             crew training, restrict operations when deployed, and limit sustained
                             combat operations.

                             Total maintenance rates have improved since initial operational testing was
                             completed in June 1997, but low observable maintenance remains as a high
                             percentage of total maintenance—one third of maintenance man-hours per
                             flying-hour.4 Air Force officials stated that the block 30 aircraft are
                             designed to incur an average of 17.7 maintenance man-hours for each
                             flying-hour to repair low observable features; thus, following a 12-hour
                             mission, a B-2A would require on average about 212 man-hours to repair
                             low observable features. This estimate does not include the lengthy times
                             required for some low observable materials to cure (72 hours in some
                             cases) before the aircraft can return to a flight status. The Air Force

                             4Maintenance man-hours per flying-hour is used as a measure of maintenance performance for total
                             aircraft maintenance but can be used to identify problem maintenance drivers like low observable

                             Page 7                                                  GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions

estimates that the number of maintenance man-hours per flight hour must
be reduced to 7.5 or lower to generate the number of flights in a specified
period (sortie rates) required for wartime. The follow-on test results
showed low observable maintenance man-hours per flying-hour had
improved, but still averaged 24.6 maintenance man-hours for the period
from July 1997 to December 1998.

Low observable maintenance and material cure times are important factors
in achieving a specific mission capable rate, which is the percentage of
time B-2As are available to perform assigned missions. For example, if the
low observable tape on the wing does not meet the radar cross section
mission requirement, the aircraft cannot fly its mission and the mission
capable rate is reduced, or the mission is flown with the degraded
capability. The Air Force threshold requirement for the B-2A mission
capable rate is 60 percent; however, the long-range requirement is a
mission capable rate of 77 percent. During calendar year 1997, the average
mission capable rate was 36 percent. However, as B-2As are upgraded to
the block 30 configuration, the rate has improved. For the 3-month period
ending November 1998, the rate was 46.1 percent.

A series of low observable features and materials design improvements are
being developed or implemented to achieve the maintainability
requirements. The B-2A has about 150 different low observable materials,
and the improvements are directed toward those materials creating most of
the problems, primarily tapes and caulks used to fill gaps and seams in the
B-2A’s exterior surface. The Air Force is also evaluating materials with
faster cure times, shorter process times, less dependence on specialized
support equipment, longer shelf life, and fewer restrictions on storage
requirements. In addition, the Air Force is developing diagnostic tools
intended to speed the process of (1) assessing areas with damaged low
observable materials and (2) verifying the repairs of these deficiencies.

Not all of the improvements will be completed and installed by the planned
FOC date. Two improvement projects designed to improve mission capable
rates and reduce low observable maintenance for the B-2As are scheduled
to be installed during the next depot maintenance cycle, which will take
place from late 1999 through early 2006. Not all installation costs for the
material improvements are included in the March 1999 estimate as
discussed later in this report.

Page 8                                     GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions

Inability to Sustain B-2A   Initial operational test reports indicated that the block 30 B-2A aircraft
Operations When Deployed    must be sheltered when deployed to forward operating locations to provide
                            a suitable environment in which to maintain and restore low observable
                            materials. Currently, adequate shelters do not exist at planned deployment
                            locations, and until these are provided, the Air Force will not be able to
                            repair low observable features quickly enough to fly B-2As at sortie rates
                            required at deployment locations and to sustain these rates over the
                            required time frames.

                            The March 1999 B-2A follow-on test and evaluation report states that,
                            based on two deployment exercises to Guam, operational requirements for
                            deployed aircraft were not achievable. Requirements include the capability
                            to sustain the operations of eight aircraft for 14 days at specified sortie
                            generation rates. Problems with low observable maintenance were
                            identified as the major obstacles to achieving B-2A operational
                            requirements during these exercises. For example, during one of the
                            exercises, two of the three B-2As deployed had significant low observable
                            deficiencies. The report states that the lack of shelters would have
                            prevented any major repairs of low observable features, but that some
                            repairs were made without the benefit of shelters. The report also states
                            that progress had been made, but that improvements in low observable
                            features and shelters are required to successfully achieve the deployment

Status of Acquisition       Most acquisition efforts for the B-2A program have been completed. The
                            March 1999 cost estimate of $44.5 billion includes costs to complete the
Costs                       block 30 modifications as well as to develop and incorporate improvements
                            beyond the block 30 configuration. Through fiscal year 1999, the Air Force
                            has been appropriated $43.7 billion, or 98 percent, of the total estimated
                            costs. According to Air Force officials, the estimate includes cost to
                            complete development, production, modification, correction of major
                            deficiencies, and certain improvements to the block 30 configuration. The
                            Air Force stated, however, that the cost estimate is based on certain
                            assumptions that are no longer valid. Air Force officials advised us that as
                            much as an additional $155 million could be required for improvements to
                            the block 30 configuration and interim contractor support. These efforts
                            were previously believed to have been fully covered in the cost estimate.
                            Further, the cost to acquire aircraft shelters for maintenance may be higher
                            than planned.

                            Page 9                                     GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions

Funds Available to           Air Force officials said adequate funds are included in the cost estimate to
Complete Major Contracts     complete the major contracts for development, production, and aircraft
                             modifications to the block 30 configuration planned through fiscal year
                             2002. Finishing block 30 modifications is the major effort remaining in the
                             program. Nineteen of the original aircraft delivered to the Air Force needed
                             modifications to achieve the block 30 configuration. Through January 1999,
                             12 B-2As were still being modified, and they were on average about
                             50 percent complete. The block 30 modifications began in 1995 and are
                             scheduled to be completed in 2002.

                             Program office contract management reports and assessments by the Air
                             Force indicate adequate funds are available to complete the development
                             and the production contracts. For example, the Air Force estimates that
                             $455 million is required to complete the modification of five test aircraft to
                             the block 30 configuration. The contract performance report shows that
                             the current contractor estimate of cost to complete the modification of
                             these test aircraft to block 30 is within the amount provided by the current
                             contract and budget. The Air Force has also evaluated the status of
                             modifying the initial production aircraft to the block 30 configuration, and
                             their evaluation shows adequate funds are available.

Potential Increases to the   The Air Force is assessing some estimating assumptions during its fiscal
Acquisition Costs            year 2001 budgeting process, which may result in higher estimated costs
                             than included in the current B-2A estimate of $44.5 billion. The Air Force
                             may require up to an additional $155 million for installing low observable
                             material improvements to the block 30 configuration and for interim
                             contractor support efforts. Further, Air Force officials indicated that cost
                             to acquire aircraft shelters for maintenance may be higher than planned.

                             The Air Force may need an additional $83 million to install critical
                             improvements in the low observable features. The Air Force March 1999
                             cost estimate assumed that one of the low observable improvement
                             programs needed to meet maintainability requirements for the B-2A would
                             be installed as part of the programmed depot maintenance process to begin
                             in late 1999. The Air Force did not include installation costs for this
                             improvement in the March 1999 cost estimate. The Air Force and
                             contractor did not believe a significant amount of additional labor hours
                             would be required to install the new materials since all low observable
                             coatings are removed and then replaced during depot maintenance. The
                             contractor has further studied the efforts required for the installation
                             process and now believes it will take a significant amount of additional

                             Page 10                                     GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions

                      labor hours to complete the installation. They have estimated the cost for
                      this increased labor to be about $83 million. If the Air Force determines this
                      estimated increase in labor hours and cost to be accurate, then the
                      B-2A program cost estimate will increase.

                      The Air Force estimates it will need up to an additional $72 million to pay
                      for contractor maintenance contracts—referred to as interim contractor
                      support—until an in-house capability is available. Interim contractor
                      support is typically funded from the procurement appropriation as part of
                      the acquisition program until an internal Air Force maintenance capability
                      is available; once available, the Air Force maintenance capability is paid for
                      largely through the operation and maintenance appropriation. The Air
                      Force cost estimate for maintenance contracts is based on use of interim
                      contractor support through fiscal year 2003. Because the Air Force delayed
                      the purchase of selected depot support equipment needed to achieve the
                      internal Air Force maintenance capability, it will require greater reliance on
                      the contractor for depot support during fiscal years 2001 through 2003.
                      Air Force officials pointed out that operation and maintenance funds that
                      would have been used to pay for this support effort will no longer be
                      required, but they could not provide an estimate for them.

                      The Air Force has identified a requirement for 13 portable shelters to
                      maintain low observable features of the B-2A at locations other than the
                      main operating base. The Air Force does not have a firm price for the
                      shelters, and the initial contractor estimates are higher than the Air Force
                      expected. If the shelters ultimately cost more than expected, the current
                      cost estimate will not be adequate to buy the required number of shelters.
                      This would create additional funding requirements for the B-2A program
                      and cause the March 1999 cost estimate to increase.

Agency Comments and   In commenting on the draft of this report, the Department of Defense
                      (DOD)agreed that the four primary areas of deficiency discussed in the
Our Evaluation        report—AFMSS, defensive avionics, low observable features, and
                      operational capability when deployed—require additional effort to meet
                      desired performance levels. DOD commented, however, that more progress
                      had been made in some of these areas than was indicated in the draft
                      report. We added information concerning test results that were reported
                      for AFMSS after the release of our draft report to DOD for comment.

                      DOD commented that we misinterpreted Air Force cost estimates for work
                      required to complete the baseline acquisition program. In particular, DOD

                      Page 11                                     GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions

              said costs of certain improvement efforts should not be counted against the
              baseline goal. Our report discusses the added costs to improve the B-2A.
              We did not attempt to define the amount of costs associated with a baseline
              cost goal because the Congress removed the cost ceiling associated with
              the baseline program.

              DOD also provided technical comments, which were incorporated as
              appropriate. DOD comments are included in appendix I.

Scope and     To evaluate the status of aircraft deliveries, modifications, and
              achievement of operational requirements, we reviewed program office
Methodology   management plans, progress reports, and schedules. We also reviewed
              testing and progress assessment reports by the B-2A program office, the Air
              Combat Command, and the 509th B-2A Operational Wing on the status of
              modifying and correcting deficiencies to bring all B-2As into the planned
              block 30 operational configuration. We also reviewed progress assessments
              by the Air Force in achieving the operational requirements necessary to
              achieve the full operating capability requirement by its scheduled date in
              1999. To obtain more detailed information and discuss matters of concern
              in these review areas, we also interviewed officials in the B-2A Program
              Offices at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio, and at Tinker Air
              Force Base, Oklahoma; the Global Attack Office, Air Combat Command,
              Langley Air Force Base, Virginia; the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force
              Base, Missouri; and Air Force and Office of the Secretary of Defense in the
              Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

              To identify cost issues and the potential for increases in the current B-2A
              program cost estimate, we reviewed B-2A program cost estimates, budgets,
              funding plans, and assessments of the Air Force’s ability to execute the
              current program and contracts within estimated costs. We also reviewed
              contract management reports on the status of contractor performance in
              meeting contract schedules within estimated costs. We interviewed B-2A
              Program and Air Combat Command program and financial managers to
              discuss the adequacy of current cost estimates, estimating assumptions,
              issues of concern, and the need and schedule for additional costs to
              complete the program.

              We performed our review from June 1998 to March 1999 in accordance with
              generally accepted government auditing standards.

              Page 12                                    GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions

We are sending copies of this report to the Honorable William Cohen,
Secretary of Defense; the Honorable F. Whitten Peters, Acting Secretary of
the Air Force; the Honorable Jacob Lew, Director of Office of Management
and Budget; and other interested parties. We will make copies available to
others upon request.

Please contact me at (202) 512-4841 if you or your staff have any questions
concerning this report. Major contributors to this report are listed in
appendix II.

Louis J. Rodrigues
Director, Defense Acquisitions Issues

Page 13                                    GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions

List of Congressional Committees

The Honorable John W. Warner
The Honorable Carl Levin
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate

The Honorable Ted Stevens
The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate

The Honorable Floyd D. Spence
The Honorable Ike Skelton
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Armed Services
House of Representatives

The Honorable Jerry Lewis
The Honorable John P. Murtha
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives

Page 14                            GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions
Page 15   GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions

Letter                                                                                            1

Appendix I                                                                                       18
Comments From the
Department of Defense

Appendix II                                                                                      22
Major Contributors to
This Report

Related GAO Products                                                                             24

Table                   Table 1: March 1999 Assessment of Achieving
                        Operational Requirements                                                  4

Figure                  Figure 1: Overview of B-2A Acquisition Schedule
                        as of January 1999                                                        3


                        AFMSS     Air Force Mission Support System
                        CLOAR     common low observable auto-router
                        DOD       Department of Defense
                        FOC       Full Operating Capability

                        Page 16                                 GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions
Page 17   GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions
Appendix I

Comments From the Department of Defense                                      ApIpenxdi

Note: GAO comments
supplementing those in the
report text appear at the end
of this appendix

See comment 1.

See comment 2.

See comment 3.

                                Page 18   GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions
                 Appendix I
                 Comments From the Department of Defense

See comment 4.

See comment 5.

                 Page 19                                   GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions
               Appendix I
               Comments From the Department of Defense

               The following are our comments on the Department of Defense’s (DOD)
               letter dated April 28, 1999.

GAO Comments   1. The Air Force completed some testing of an upgraded Air Force Mission
               Support Systems (AFMSS) since our draft report was issued. However, an
               important component of the system, the common low observable auto-
               router (CLOAR), is still unsatisfactory and improvements are being made
               to system software. This component will in some cases prevent mission
               plans from being completed within the operationally required time. In
               addition, operational testing of AFMSS has not been completed. Our final
               report includes updated information on the AFMSS development.

               2. DOD stated our description of the defensive avionics as “insufficient”
               implied an inability of the B-2A to perform its mission, whereas B-2As are
               currently participating in combat operations. DOD stated some situational
               awareness information in current operations was being provided by the
               defensive avionics. We changed our report to state situational awareness
               was “limited” rather than “insufficient.” Although the defensive avionics is
               being used to some extent at this time, improvements are still required to
               meet the operational requirements.

               3. DOD indicated that the wording of the draft report implied there was an
               operational requirement for low observable maintenance man-hours per
               flying-hour when the requirement is actually for total B-2 maintenance
               activities. The final report reflects this distinction; however, it should be
               noted that the Air Force uses maintenance man-hours per flying-hour to
               measure maintenance improvements for low observable features. This
               metric was used in both the Air Force initial and follow-on operational test
               reports to show low observable maintenance is the main driver for overall
               B-2 maintenance.

               4. DOD stated that B-2As successfully deployed to Guam during two
               exercises in 1998 and that during these exercises some low observable
               maintenance was accomplished without shelters. The final report
               acknowledges that not all low observable maintenance requires an
               environmentally controlled shelter, but it points out that the Air Force
               follow-on test and evaluation report concluded that operational
               deployment requirements were not achieved during these 1998 exercises
               and that the lack of shelters would have prevented any major repair of low
               observable features had they been needed. The test report states that on
               the second deployment exercise, significant low observable deficiencies

               Page 20                                     GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions
Appendix I
Comments From the Department of Defense

occurred and that one of the three aircraft deployed had to be returned to
the contractor’s facility in the United States for the repairs. Although the
Air Force can deploy B-2As, the Air Force cannot sustain operations at the
level required for eight aircraft over a 14-day period without shelters for
low observable maintenance.

5. DOD agreed additional funds would be required to complete efforts
included in the March 1999 B-2A cost estimate. Their comments stated,
however, that we misinterpreted the Air Force cost estimate for work to
complete the baseline acquisition program. As stated in the Agency
Comments and Our Evaluation section, we discuss the added costs to
improve the B-2A, but we did not attempt to define the amount of costs
associated with the baseline cost goal because the Congress removed the
cost ceiling associated with the baseline program. During the formal exit
conference, DOD officials also stated that additional funds might be
needed to buy deployable shelters.

Page 21                                    GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions
Appendix II

Major Contributors to This Report                                              ApIpIexndi

National Security and   David E. Cooper

International Affairs
Division, Washington,

Chicago Field Office    Robert D. Murphy
                        Michael J. Hazard
                        Marvin E. Bonner

                        Page 22             GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions
Page 23   GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions
Related GAO Products

                   B-2 Bomber: Additional Costs to Correct Deficiencies and Make
                   Improvements (GAO/NSIAD-98-152, June 16, 1998).

                   B-2 Bomber: Cost and Operational Issues (GAO/NSIAD-97-181,
                   Aug. 14, 1997).

                   B-2 Bomber: Status of Efforts to Acquire 21 Operational Aircraft
                   (GAO/NSIAD-97-11, Oct. 22, 1996).

                   B-2 Bomber: Status of Cost, Development, and Production
                   (GAO/NSIAD-95-164, Aug. 4, 1995).

                   B-2 Bomber: Cost to Complete 20 Aircraft Is Uncertain
                   (GAO/NSIAD-94-217, Sept. 8, 1994).

(707352)   Leter   Page 24                                   GAO/NSIAD-99-97 Defense Acquisitions
Ordering Information

The first copy of each GAO report and testimony is free.
Additional copies are $2 each. Orders should be sent to the
following address, accompanied by a check or money order made
out to the Superintendent of Documents, when necessary, VISA and
MasterCard credit cards are accepted, also.

Orders for 100 or more copies to be mailed to a single address are
discounted 25 percent.

Orders by mail:

U.S. General Accounting Office
P.O. Box 37050
Washington, DC 20013

or visit:

Room 1100
700 4th St. NW (corner of 4th and G Sts. NW)
U.S. General Accounting Office
Washington, DC

Orders may also be placed by calling (202) 512-6000
or by using fax number (202) 512-6061, or TDD (202) 512-2537.

Each day, GAO issues a list of newly available reports and
testimony. To receive facsimile copies of the daily list or any list
from the past 30 days, please call (202) 512-6000 using a touchtone
phone. A recorded menu will provide information on how to obtain
these lists.

For information on how to access GAO reports on the INTERNET,
send an e-mail message with “info” in the body to:


or visit GAO’s World Wide Web Home Page at:

United States                       Bulk Rate
General Accounting Office      Postage & Fees Paid
Washington, D.C. 20548-0001           GAO
                                 Permit No. GI00
Official Business
Penalty for Private Use $300

Address Correction Requested