Quick Off Mark

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) issued a statement yesterday after an Air Force press briefing announcing a Nunn-McCurdy breach for the C-5 upgrade program (see above), saying that we should view the “alleged” breach with “a healthy sense of skepticism.” Carper is chairman and Coburn ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s financial management panel, which held a hearing last week on the strategic airlift issue. The two went on to say that a service can trigger a breach by overstating costs “when the service prefers to purchase new aircraft rather than modernize structurally sound aircraft” that could fly another 25 years. According to USAF’s top acquisition official, Sue Payton, the difference in cost data between the Air Force and Lockheed Martin revolves around the number of installation hours needed to make upgrades to the first few lots of aircraft, now that there has been more than two years since completion of the test aircraft. She told reporters: “We knew the last one took about 111,000 hours to get through. When you have a 29 month gap, it’s going to be more like 116,000 hours.”