Accession Number : ADA328334

Title :   B-2 Bomber: Cost and Operational Issues.

Corporate Author : GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL A FFAIRS DIV

PDF Url : ADA328334

Report Date : AUG 1997

Pagination or Media Count : 23

Abstract : B-2 operational requirements specify that the weapon system have 'low-observable' (stealth) characteristics and sufficient range and payload capability to deliver precision-guided conventional or nuclear weapons anywhere in the world with enhanced survivability. The B-2 combines conventional and state-of-the-art technology, such as special shaping and radar-absorbing materials, to achieve low-observability characteristics, high aerodynamic efficiency, and a large payload capacity. The blending of these technologies makes the aircraft complex and costly to develop, produce, and in some respects maintain. In the early 1990s, the number of B-2s to be acquired was reduced from 132 to 20 operational aircraft. The 20 aircraft include 15 production aircraft and 5 of 6 test aircraft that are to be modified to a fully capable operational configuration. In March 1996, the President directed that the one remaining test aircraft be upgraded to a fully capable operational configuration, bringing the total operational B-2s to be acquired to 21. B-2 development started in 1981. Production of long lead-time aircraft components began in 1986 and flight testing was initiated in 1989. The lengthy development and test program, which has been implemented concurrently with the production program for about 11 years, required the Air Force to devise a mechanism for initially accepting partially capable aircraft until their full capability could be demonstrated in the test program.

Descriptors :   *COSTS, *JET BOMBERS, NUCLEAR WEAPONS, FLIGHT TESTING, PAYLOAD, STATE OF THE ART, WEAPON SYSTEMS, GUIDED WEAPONS, LEAD TIME, RADAR ABSORBING MATERIALS.

Subject Categories : Bombers

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE