By Marina Malenic

The Pentagon this week announced a slight reduction in the cost of major defense acquisitions, according to a recent report to Congress on program cost, schedule, and performance changes since December 2007.

The most recent Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs), submitted to Congress in June, registered a net decrease of 0.3 percent from the prior reporting period. The cost of programs covered by SARs was still about $1.6 trillion, according to an Aug. 18 Defense Department announcement.

SARs summarize the latest estimates of cost, schedule, and performance status for major DoD procurement efforts. The reports are prepared annually in conjunction with the White House budget.

Leading the budget decreases was the C-5 Reliability Enhancement and Re-engineering Program (RERP), a modification to the aircraft’s propulsion system. The C-5 RERP was reduced by ten aircraft, from 59 to 49, at a savings of just under $1.7 billion.

Lockheed Martin [LMT] is conducting the effort, which is still on track to begin its operational test and evaluation period in the third quarter of 2009, according to a statement released yesterday.

According to Lockheed, the company has also completed developmental testing of all three C-5 RERP test aircraft.

Preparations will now begin for delivery of the test aircraft to the Air Force in support of Operational Test and Evaluation.

The C-5M Super Galaxy is the result of a two-phase modernization effort. The first and ongoing phase is the Avionics Modernization Program (AMP), which provides a state-of-the art glass cockpit and a digital backbone to support the RERP modifications. Forty-three C-5 aircraft have completed the AMP modifications.

RERP is the second phase, which adds new GE CF6-80C2 commercial engines and 70 other enhancements or replacements of major components and subsystems.

The C-5M can carry twice the cargo of other strategic airlift systems and the modified platform is expected to continue its service life through 2040.