Congress: USAF under-reported C-130J costs

Confusion about the L-3/Alenia C-27J’s price tag relative to the C-130J’s sparked one of history’s most memorable lines from a Congressional hearing earlier this year on military acquisition. Here’s that famous exchange between Rep Neil Abercrombie and USAF acquisition head Sue Payton:

“REP. ABERCROMBIE: Ms. Payton, you are right on the edge of getting into the Blues Brothers.

MS. PAYTON: Sorry sir, I don’t mean to be there. I –

REP. ABERCROMBIE: That’s when — when Jake says, Bill, but you liedto us about the band. They lied to me when I was in prison about theband. You haven’t kept the band together. He goes, I never lied to you.I bullshitted you a little bit, but I never lied to you.”

Six months later, Abercrombie’s hunch proved right on the mark. The defense appropriations conference report approved by the House last week explains that the twin-engined C-27J costs much less than a four-engined C-130J after all. Here’s the language:

The report(H. Rept. 110-652) accompanying the House bill noted that, at the time of thereport, the Air Force was reporting a unit cost for JCA of $60.7 million, andwas reporting a unit cost for C-130J aircraft of $56.7 million.

Afterfurther discussion with the Air Force acquisition officials and clarificationof terminology, we believe that a fairer, apples-to-apples comparison of suchcosts would raise the comparable average procurement unit cost for a C-130J to $84.2million, in terms of fiscal year 2007 dollars.


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2 Responses to Congress: USAF under-reported C-130J costs

  1. Matt 30 September, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

    Is it just me or is the USAF the most troubled procurer? You know what they say – the common link in all of your failed relationships is you.

  2. Stephen Trimble 2 October, 2008 at 5:48 pm #

    To be fair, the listed amounts are much higher than the flyaway price for both aircraft. The C-27J flyaway price is about $33 million, according to the army. FMS packages are loaded with extra costs for spares and logistics.

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