Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Boeing C-17 (New) - Lockheed-Martin C-5 (Retrofit): Government Accountability Office (GAO) Nov. 2008 DoD Strategic Airlift Cost Analysis

Publisher's note: A follow on to this analysis was issued the following year, with virtually no change in the data that counts. Nevertheless, it was more reflective of the objections raised by the Office of the Secretary of Defense while still raising strong doubts about the SECDEF's motivations in terms of continuing attempts to kill C-17. This, in spite of its being one of the most operationally and cost effective platforms in DoD inventory.  This document, along with the just released and much delayed DoD Annual Report to Congress on China's military preparedness, is demonstrative of budgetary restraint objectives all but wholly dismissive of the prevailing geo-political/geo-military state of affairs.
'The Air Force has cut the number of C-5s it plans to fully modernize by more than half because of substantial cost increases in the C-5 Reliability Enhancement and Reengining Program (RERP) and plans to acquire more C-17s, with additional congressional funding.

'Currently, the Air Force plans to provide avionics upgrades to all 111 C-5s, limit RERP to 52 C-5s, and acquire 205 (now 223) C-17s. However, this mix may change again, based in part on the results of a new mobility capabilities study, the findings of which DOD plans to release in May 2009.

'While the new study is expected to consider transport needs for the future force, DOD has not identified specific metrics it will use to make strategic airlift decisions—a concern GAO raised about DOD’s previous mobility capabilities study and one DOD agreed to address in future studies.

'The Air Force currently estimates it will spend $9.1 billion on upgrading the C-5s. However, this estimate may be understated because DOD did not apply risk or uncertainty analyses to its RERP major cost drivers. Moreover, the current RERP is underfunded by almost $300 million and may be unachievable if the engine production schedule is not met.

 Relative Capability Increases from Modernized C-5s and New C-17 Aircraft
'Finally, if the cost for C-5 modernization continues to increase, Air Force officials may have to reconsider the mix within its airlift portfolio or request additional funding.

'Additional investments in C-17 aircraft may become more attractive. Currently, a new C-17 would cost about $276 million compared to $132 million to fully modernize a C-5. Each new C-17 potentially adds 100 percent of its cargo capacity toward meeting the total airlift requirement.(ital. ours)

'Because the C-5s are already part of the operational force, each aircraft’s current capacity is already counted toward the total requirement. Consequently, according to DOD data, the C-5 modernization programs only provide a marginal increase of 14 percent in capability over nonmodernized aircraft.

'Using DOD’s million ton-mile per day planning factors, we, working in collaboration with DOD, calculated that DOD would need to fully modernize 7 C-5s to attain the equivalent capability achieved from acquiring 1 additional C-17 and the costs would be over 3 times more (see table 3)."

Cost per flying hour                            Mission Capable Rate
C-5                     C-17                             C-5                           C-17
$23,100              $11,300                       53%                          86%