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C-17 Globemaster: Support of Operation Joint Endeavor (Letter Report, 02/14/97, GAO/NSIAD-97-50).

GAO reviewed how the C-17 aircraft was used during the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO) peacekeeping force deployment to Bosnia,
focusing on: (1) how well it performed during the deployment; and (2)
whether deployment transportation requirements included the need for
airlift aircraft to perform any of the C-17's expected operational
capabilities.

GAO found that: (1) during Operation Joint Endeavor, the C-17
accomplished the airlift tasks required of it, as did other airlifters
such as the C-141, the C-5, and the C-130; (2) the C-17 was used to
satisfy the Army's immediate need for a high-capacity, short distance
air transport to move troops, equipment, and outsize cargo from central
Europe into the Bosnia area of operations; (3) the C-17 performed about
26 percent of the deployment airlift missions and carried about 44
percent of the cargo moved during the deployment; (4) the C-17 also
performed a limited number of strategic airlift missions in which it
delivered cargo from the continental United States to final destinations
in Germany, Hungary, and Bosnia; (5) according to contractor reports,
the C-17 achieved a mission capable rate of 86.2 percent during the
December 1995 through February 1996 time frame compared to a required
rate of 81.2 percent; (6) transportation needs of the Bosnia deployment
did not offer the opportunity for any airlift aircraft to perform or
demonstrate several operational roles and missions; and (7)
consequently, the C-17 was not required to perform many tasks which it
had trouble doing, or did not do, during operational testing.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-97-50
     TITLE:  C-17 Globemaster: Support of Operation Joint Endeavor
      DATE:  02/14/97
   SUBJECT:  Military aircraft
             Military cost control
             Testing
             Defense capabilities
             Military airlift operations
             Defense operations
             Defense contingency planning
             Logistics
             NATO military forces
IDENTIFIER:  C-17 Aircraft
             Bosnia
             DOD Operation Joint Endeavor
             C-141 Aircraft
             C-130 Aircraft
             C-5 Aircraft
             Germany
             Hungary
             AMC Military Airlift Integrated Report System
             AMC History System
             Globemaster Aircraft
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to Congressional Committees

February 1997

C-17 GLOBEMASTER - SUPPORT OF
OPERATION JOINT ENDEAVOR

GAO/NSIAD-97-50

C-17 Globemaster

(703151)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  AHS - AMC History System
  AMC - Air Mobility Command
  DOD - Department of Defense
  MAIRS - Military Airlift Integrated Reporting System
  NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  RM&A - reliability, maintainability, and availability

Letter
=============================================================== LETTER


B-275466

February 14, 1997

Congressional Committees

The initial use of the Air Force's newest airlifter, the C-17
Globemaster in a major military operation occurred during the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Peacekeeping Force deployment to
Bosnia.  At the end of fiscal year 1996, the Department of Defense
(DOD) had spent about $20.5 billion to develop the C-17 and purchase
28 aircraft.  It plans to buy a total of 120 C-17s at an estimated
cost of $43 billion.  We have previously reported on C-17
development, acquisition plans, and testing results.  Because of the
significant cost of the C-17 and the continuing congressional
interest in the C-17's performance, we determined (1) how the C-17
was used and how well it performed during the deployment and (2)
whether deployment transportation requirements included the need for
airlift aircraft to perform any of the C-17's expected operational
capabilities.  We are addressing this report to you because it falls
within the jurisdiction of your committees and because of your
interest in the subject. 


   BACKGROUND
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1

Initially, U.S.  deployment plans in support of the NATO peacekeeping
effort (known as Operation Joint Endeavor) called for a heavy
reliance on road and rail for transporting troops and equipment into
Bosnia.  These early plans assumed only minimal airlift support would
be needed and that would be provided by C-130s based in Europe. 
However, when the time available to accomplish the logistics of
moving troops and equipment into Bosnia diminished and when various
problems, including weather and rail strikes limited the use of
ground transportation, the U.S.  deployment shifted to heavy reliance
on cargo aircraft.  The C-130s in the theater were supplemented by
C-141s, C-5s, and C-17s from Air Mobility Command to meet the
increasing need for airlift within the European theater.  The range
of airlift requirements for the Bosnia deployment were confined
primarily to intratheater\1 support, with no airdrop or medical
evacuation requirements, and only limited support provided from
outside the European theater. 

The C-17 aircraft, which is being produced for the Air Force by the
McDonnell Douglas Corporation, is designed to airlift substantial
payloads over long ranges without refueling.  The C-17 is planned to
replace the C-141 transport aircraft in the current fleet and to
complement the larger but less maneuverable C-5 aircraft.  In
providing airlift support, the C-17 is intended to deliver cargo and
troops directly to forward airfields; fly into small, austere
airfields; land on short runways; transport outsize cargo such as
tanks; and airdrop troops and equipment. 

In August 1995, the Air Force completed a 30-day reliability,
maintainability, and availability (RM&A) evaluation of the aircraft's
compliance with contractual RM&A specifications.  During this
evaluation, the C-17's RM&A performance was assessed during both
peace-and wartime missions, including aerial refueling, equipment and
personnel airdrops, formation flying, low-level operations, and
operations into small austere airfields.  Wartime missions ranged
from 12.5 to 26 hours, while peacetime missions ranged from 2 to 20
hours.  In July 1996\2 we reported that unresolved questions
regarding certain important C-17 capabilities still remained after
the RM&A evaluation.  The Office of the Director, Operational Test
and Evaluation, reported in November 1995 that based on its
assessment of the C-17's operational effectiveness and suitability,
the C-17 is suitable for the conduct of air-land missions and
effective in the airdrop of personnel.  However, the report also
stated that additional testing was necessary to fully evaluate the
aircraft's capability for the mass airdrop of personnel, and that the
C-17 was not effective or suitable for routine aeromedical evacuation
missions until certain deficiencies were corrected. 


--------------------
\1 Intratheater refers to short distance transportation support
within the European theater.  Intertheater refers to long distance,
intercontinental missions. 

\2 C-17 Aircraft:  RM&A Evaluation Less Demanding Than Initially
Planned (GAO/NSIAD-96-126, July 1996)


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2

During Operation Joint Endeavor, the C-17 accomplished the airlift
tasks required of it, as did other airlifters such as the C-141, the
C-5, and the C-130.  Primarily, the C-17 performed short-distance
transportation support within the European theater, and a limited
number of long distance, intercontinental air transport missions.  In
particular, the C-17 was used to satisfy the Army's immediate need
for a high-capacity, short distance air transport to move troops,
equipment, and outsize cargo from central Europe into the Bosnia area
of operations.  The C-17 performed about 26 percent of the deployment
airlift missions and carried about 44 percent of the cargo moved
during the deployment.  The C-17 also performed a limited number of
strategic airlift missions in which it delivered cargo from the
continental United States to final destinations in Germany, Hungary,
and Bosnia.  The average cargo weight carried by airlift aircraft in
support of Operation Joint Endeavor compared to their maximum payload
capacity showed that no aircraft was over stressed.  For example, no
airlift aircraft on average carried more than half its maximum
payload capacity.  According to contractor reports, the C-17 achieved
a mission capable\3 rate of 86.2 percent during the December 1995
through February 1996 time frame compared to a required rate of 81.2
percent. 

Transportation needs of the Bosnia deployment did not offer the
opportunity for any airlift aircraft to perform or demonstrate
several operational roles and/or missions, which are important parts
of the C-17's full range of operational capabilities.  Consequently,
the C-17 was not required to perform many tasks which it had trouble
doing, or did not do, during operational testing.  These included
several tasks the Army considers important like landing at small
austere airfields on short, wet runways; performing strategic
airdrops of both troops and equipment; and providing aeromedical
evacuation capability. 


--------------------
\3 An aircraft is considered to be mission capable if it is capable
of performing at least one of its assigned missions.  The mission
capable rate shown is overall, meaning that it includes all missions
whether intertheater or intratheater. 


   C-17 PRIMARILY PERFORMED AN
   INTRATHEATER AIRLIFT ROLE
   DURING DEPLOYMENT
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3

Airlift aircraft, particularly the C-17, performed a major
transportation support role during the Operation Joint Endeavor
deployment, which occurred between the December 1995 and February
1996 time frame.  According to Air Mobility Command (AMC) data,\4 the
majority of deployment airlift missions flown were intratheater
support, as were the majority of C-17 deployment missions.  (See fig. 
1.) Intratheater support involved moving troops and equipment over
short distances within the European theater, such as from Germany to
the initial staging base in Hungary, or more directly into the
American sector in Bosnia.  There were few intertheater deployment
requirements, which would have involved moving troops and equipment
from the continental United States into the European theater.  Of the
3,827 airlift missions flown during the deployment time frame, 2,924
or 76.4 percent were intratheater missions.  Of the 1,000 total C-17
deployment missions, 917 or 91.7 percent were intratheater missions. 

   Figure 1:  Breakout of
   Deployment Missions

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Airlift aircraft moved about 45,369 tons of cargo and about
18,539 passengers during the deployment.  Table 1 shows the amount of
cargo and passengers carried by each type of airlift aircraft. 



                                Table 1
                
                   Cargo and Passengers Moved During
                 Operation Joint Endeavor Deployment by
                         Airlift Aircraft Type

                        Number
                            of
                     deploymen   Percent     Tons   Percent     Number
                             t        of       of        of         of
Type of airlift       missions  missions    cargo     cargo  passenger
aircraft                 flown     flown    moved     moved    s moved
-------------------  ---------  --------  -------  --------  ---------
C-5                        453        12   12,048        27      5,706
C-17                     1,000        26   19,892        44      5,574
C-130                    1,365        36    4,901        11      2,218
C-141                      987        26    8,391        18      4,815
KC-10                       22        <1      137        <1        226
======================================================================
Totals                   3,827       100   45,369       100     18,539
----------------------------------------------------------------------
As this table shows, the C-17 flew about 26 percent of the total
deployment airlift missions and carried about 44 percent of total
cargo and 30 percent of total passengers.  In total, the C-17 carried
an average cargo load of 39,784 pounds per mission compared to the
specified average cargo weight of 48,649 pounds per mission over the
lifetime of the aircraft.  This is based on mission profiles in C-17
contract specifications.  Overall, all types of airlift aircraft
carried average cargo weights per mission that were less than their
maximum payload capacities.  Table 2 provides a comparison of average
cargo loads per aircraft type, carried during the deployment, versus
maximum aircraft payload capacity. 



                                Table 2
                
                  Average Cargo Weight Carried Versus
                         Maximum Cargo Capacity

                                                         Average cargo
                                                      weight in pounds
                                           Maximum         per mission
                                           payload       December 1995
                                       capacity in    through February
Type of airlift aircraft                    pounds                1996
------------------------------------  ------------  ------------------
C-5                                        261,000              53,192
C-17                                       160,000              39,784
C-130                                       50,000               7,181
C-141                                       90,000              17,003
KC-10                                      169,500              12,454
----------------------------------------------------------------------
As this table shows, none of the airlift aircraft carried maximum
payload capacities during the deployment period we evaluated.  The
C-5 carried the largest reported average cargo weight per mission of
53,192 pounds while primarily performing intertheater missions,
whereas the C-17 carried an average of 39,784 pounds while primarily
performing intratheater missions.  AMC representatives said that
cargo weight data for C-130 aircraft was particularly unreliable
since C-130 operators do not require tracking of total cargo weight
on a per mission basis.  In responding to a draft of this report, DOD
noted that cargo weight plays a critical role in airlifter
performance only in relatively rare missions when armored vehicles
and/or ammunition are being carried.  Further, DOD stated that less
than maximum cargo weight does not equate to inefficient use of
aircraft since maximum cargo volume, or the maximum volume of cargo
that will fit into an airlifter, is usually reached before maximum
cargo weight is reached.  DOD also stated that since most airlift
aircraft cargo loads reach maximum volume first, it would be unusual
for any airplane to carry more than 50 percent of its maximum payload
weight.  Finally, DOD stated that AMC tracks cargo weight since
center-of-gravity information is a safety of flight issue; however,
since cargo volume is not a safety of flight issue, AMC does not
track cargo volume carried on any airframe in the fleet. 

The prime contractor for the C-17 used a variety of performance
parameters to assess C-17 performance during the deployment.  DOD
used the same parameters to assess C-17 performance during RM&A
evaluation and initial operational test and evaluation.  According to
the contractor, the C-17 achieved better than required performance
levels for five key maintenance and repair parameters during the
December 1995 through February 1996 time frame.  In addition, the
contractor reported the C-17 achieved a mission capable rate of 86.2
percent versus a requirement of 81.2 percent during the same time
period. 

The C-17's overall departure reliability and logistics departure
reliability rates during the deployment also improved over those
achieved during recent RM&A evaluations, according to AMC
representatives.  Overall departure reliability is the percentage of
aircraft leaving no more than
20 minutes prior to and no later than 14 minutes after the scheduled
departure time.  Logistics departure reliability rate is the
percentage of aircraft achieving on time departure not counting
aircraft departure delays caused by weather.  According to AMC,
between December 19, 1995, and January 17, 1996, the C-17 achieved a
logistics departure reliability rate of 97.8 percent and an overall
departure reliability rate of 83.9 percent.  The C-17 also performed
well when moving outsize cargo, according to AMC representatives. 
Outsize cargo is defined as a single item that exceeds 1,000 inches
long by 117 inches wide by 105 inches high in any one dimension and
requires the use of a C-5 or C-17 aircraft (an M-1 tank, for
example).  AMC representatives listed the following examples of the
C-17 moving outsize cargo during the deployment:  one C-17 landed at
Tuzla with a self-propelled 155-mm howitzer, a support vehicle, and
trailer; seven C-17s moved 15 Bradley fighting vehicles plus support
in 1 day during the deployment; and three C-17s moved 25 pontoon
bridge sections to Hungary. 


--------------------
\4 We relied upon several AMC airlift information systems during the
conduct of our work.  To the extent that AMC had not completed a
reliability assessment of the data contained in those systems, and
because AMC representatives expressed concern about the reliability
and accuracy of that data, analyses in this report are qualified. 
(See Scope and Methodology section of this report for more details.)


   DEPLOYMENT DID NOT INCLUDE THE
   OPPORTUNITY FOR THE C-17 TO
   PERFORM THE FULL RANGE OF
   OPERATIONAL CAPABILITIES
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4

The Bosnia deployment airlift requirements did not include the need
for any airlift aircraft to perform or demonstrate several of the
airlift roles and missions which the Army considers important
operational capabilities for the C-17 in providing support for
certain Army missions.  The C-17 had trouble performing, or did not
perform, several of these tasks during operational testing and the
RM&A evaluation.  For example, Army reports on the C-17 RM&A
evaluation and initial operational testing results have raised
questions regarding the C-17's ability to operate on short, wet
runways; perform personnel airdrops missions; and provide aeromedical
evacuation.  The Bosnia deployment did not provide the opportunity
for any airlift aircraft to demonstrate these capabilities. 

During initial operational testing, concerns surfaced regarding the
C-17's ability to operate on short, wet runways.  The Army defined a
short austere airfield as a 3,000-foot long runway, either paved or
unpaved, for the purpose of operational testing.  Simulations have
shown that, during a landing on wet unpaved surfaces, the C-17 would
slide off the end of a 3,000-foot long runway.  Rather, simulations
suggest that C-17 landings with a full payload on a wet (paved or
unpaved) surface would require a 5,000-foot runway.  Since none of
the runways used by any airlift aircraft during the deployment were
less than 7,874\5 feet, the Bosnia deployment did not provide the
opportunity to assess any airlifter's ability to operate on short,
wet runways. 

The C-17 also did not have the opportunity to demonstrate its ability
to support personnel airdrops since no airlift aircraft had to fly
such missions during the Operation Joint Endeavor deployment.  The
Army considers personnel formation airdrops a logical extension of
its personnel airdrop requirement and, primarily due to safety
concerns, it did not certify personnel formation airdrops for the
C-17 during operational testing.  According to DOD, the Army and the
Air Force are jointly working to address C-17 formation personnel
airdrop issues. 

Airlift aircraft were also not required to perform aeromedical
evacuations during the Bosnia deployment.  According to the Army's
report on C-17 initial operational test results, the C-17
demonstrated the capability to move 36 patients versus an Army
requirement to move 48 patients in an aeromedical evacuation. 
Further, the Army notes that initial operational testing found a
number of other deficiencies in the C-17 aircraft that make it
unsuitable for use in performing routine aeromedical evacuations. 
But, according to AMC, all current C-17s will be capable of
fulfilling designated aeromedical airlift roles by June 1997. 
According to DOD, in August 1996, based on the AMC Commander's
recommendation to amend the published C-17 aeromedical evacuation
requirement, the requirement was changed from 48 to 36 patient
litters.  DOD notes that while the AMC Commander cannot change the
requirement, the Commander can make declarations of capability, and
the new capability for 36 litters will be reflected in an updated
C-17 Operational Requirements Document. 


--------------------
\5 According to DOD, although the full 8,530-foot runway length at
Sarajevo was available to the C-130, a tunnel dug under the runway
during previous fighting in Bosnia weakened the runway beyond
5,860 feet.  For this reason, both C-141 and C-17 aircraft were
restricted to using the first 5,800 feet. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5

DOD believes the C-17's performance in the Bosnia deployment
validates the November 1995 Defense Acquisition Executive's decision
to procure an additional 80 C-17s, for a total of 120 aircraft.  The
scope of work for this report did not include a
validation/invalidation of that decision.  However, in our report,
Military Airlift:  Options Exist For Meeting Requirements While
Acquiring Fewer C-17s (GAO/NSIAD-97-38, Feb.  1997), we suggested
that Congress consider funding only 100 C-17s, which would save over
$7 billion in life-cycle costs over the 120 C-17 aircraft program. 
We reported that DOD can meet mission requirements with 100 C-17s by
employing various low-cost options and by extending the use of
alternatives for accomplishing the extended range brigade airdrop. 

DOD also stated that it was inappropriate to include any discussion
regarding C-17 capabilities to perform short-wet runway operations,
personnel airdrops, and aeromedical evacuations in our report, since
during the deployment there were no missions requiring those
capabilities.  We disagree.  Our scope of work included an
examination of the missions that the C-17 performed during the
deployment and a comparison of how it was used versus its expected
capabilities.  A discussion of whether the C-17 had the opportunity
to perform the stated capabilities during the deployment is
appropriate to the discussion, since these are C-17 operational
capabilities that have yet to be fully demonstrated.  DOD also
provided suggestions for additional comments to be included in the
report.  To the extent practical, those comments are reflected in the
body of our report.  DOD's written comments are included in appendix
I. 


   SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6

To determine (1) how the C-17 was used during the deployment and (2)
whether the deployment required airlift aircraft to perform any of
the unique operational capabilities the C-17 is expected to perform,
we interviewed officials and obtained, reviewed, and analyzed reports
and electronic airlift transportation performance information.  This
information was provided by the U.S.  Transportation Command and AMC. 
We also interviewed deployment airlift customers and analyzed reports
and data available from the U.S.  European Command; the U.S.  Army,
Europe; and the U.S.  Air Forces, Europe; as well as discussed and
documented their observations concerning the performance of the C-17
from a customer perspective. 

To determine the operational capabilities required and actually
performed during the deployment, we interviewed C-17 pilots,
maintainers, and loadmasters at the 437th Air Wing, Charleston Air
Force Base, South Carolina; and conducted interviews and analyzed
reports on C-17 deployment experience from representatives of the
621st Air Mobility Operations Group at Travis Air Force Base,
California, who comprised and operated the Tanker Airlift Control
Elements at Zagreb, Croatia, and Taszar, Hungary.  The scope of our
work did not include an assessment of the cost-effectiveness of using
one airlift aircraft to provide intratheater airlift support versus
another.  However, we are currently assessing DOD's intratheater
airlift requirements and will address the cost-effectiveness issue in
that report. 

To assess reported airlift activity by aircraft type during the
deployment, we analyzed data contained in AMC's Military Airlift
Integrated Reporting System (MAIRS) and the AMC History System (AHS). 
AHS is a database of airlift sorties and is intended to replace
MAIRS; however, AMC was using both systems at the time of the Joint
Endeavor deployment.  AMC representatives expressed concern about
data accuracy and reliability of both databases.  At the time of our
review, AMC officials could not provide us with a statistical error
rate or confidence level with which they, or we, could rely on data
derived from these systems.  However, AMC used this data to support
some of its C-17 performance claims. 

Our assessment of those databases supports various AMC
representatives' concerns regarding data reliability and accuracy. 
Our review of data within these systems identified records containing
questionable information.  For example, 57 records indicated that
aircraft took off but never landed,
11 records indicated sorties had negative flying hour lengths, and
438 records indicated that airlift aircraft flew missions into Bosnia
and/or Hungary but carried no cargo or passengers.  We presented our
observations in a fact sheet to AMC officials who agreed that our
analysis highlights some problems it needs to address.  Further, they
indicated these problems could be the result of data input errors,
lack of proper review of data input in the theater, or a lack of
system validation.  AMC officials also said that some of our concerns
may have resulted from problems with our analysis; however, AMC will
need to perform a more detailed review of the data to make that
determination.  AMC officials are aware of inaccurate data and
reliability problems associated with these systems and have had an
outside contractor working to resolve them since March 1996.  AMC
said that the contractor underestimated the effort required and had
revised its completion date to the end of October 1996.  However, the
contractor had not completed work by the time we prepared this report
in December 1996. 

Although the accuracy of AMC's data covering the activities of its
airlift aircraft is questionable, we attempted to obtain an accurate
picture of how the C-17 was used and how well it performed by
contacting and interviewing Air Force operational, maintenance, and
loadmaster personnel who were directly involved with operating the
C-17 during the Joint Endeavor deployment.  We also interviewed AMC's
customers in the European theater, including high-level Army and Air
Force officials.  In addition to working with AMC to resolve data
issues, we have drafted a letter of inquiry for the Secretary of
Defense regarding concerns we have about the potential effect of
unreliable and/or inaccurate airlift performance and operational
data.  We are confident that, in general, we have a fairly accurate
picture of how the C-17 was used and how it performed during the
deployment, although AMC has not taken a formal position on the
reliability and/or accuracy of the specific data in its databases. 
Since AMC had not performed a reliability assessment of these
systems, and because it is not able to provide a statistical error
rate or confidence level for data derived from these systems, all of
this data must be qualified. 

We conducted our review from May to December 1996 in accordance with
generally accepted government auditing standards.  We provided a
draft of this report to DOD and incorporated their comments where
appropriate.  The department's written comments are included in
appendix I. 


---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.1

We are providing copies of this report to the appropriate House and
Senate Committees and the Secretaries of Defense, the Air Force, and
the Army.  We will also provide copies to other interested parties
upon request. 

If you or your staff have any questions concerning this report,
please call me on (202) 512-5140.  The major contributors to this
report were William C.  Meredith, John G.  Wiethop, and David J. 
Henry. 

Mark E.  Gebicke
Director, Military Operations
and Capabilities

List of Congressional Committees

The Honorable Strom Thurmond
Chairman
The Honorable Carl Levin
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate

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

The Honorable Floyd Spence
Chairman
The Honorable Ronald V.  Dellums
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on National Security
House of Representatives

The Honorable C.W.  Bill Young
Chairman
The Honorable John P.  Murtha
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on National Security
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives



(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix I

*** End of document. ***

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