Case Study of Risk Management in the USAF B-1B Bomber Program

by Susan J. Bodilly

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This case study was undertaken with seven researchers to develop a better understanding of the risks involved in weapon system development and whether government policies effectively aid in the management of those risks. The case focuses on the procurement of the B-1B bomber and covers the entire aircraft platform and its component systems. The case finds that many of the risks and problems encountered in this procurement trace their roots back to initial decisions made at high levels in the administration and Congress in political negotiations to allow the building of the aircraft. Three constraints were imposed: initial operational capability by 1987, a budget ceiling of $20.5 billion, and a requirement that the government act as an integrator of the four major contractors. These conditions were not conducive to the development of the very technically advanced craft. The result was that the bomber has not lived up to the full potential originally envisioned.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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