The Light Airborne Multipurpose System, Lamps MK III, Progress Evident but Some Problems and Questions Remain

C-MASAD-81-4: Published: Feb 23, 1981. Publicly Released: Feb 23, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the newest antisubmarine helicopter weapon system being developed by the Navy, the Light Airborne Multipurpose System (LAMPS MK III). It is a computer-integrated ship and helicopter system designed principally for antisubmarine warfare (ASW) with secondary mission capabilities of antiship surveillance and targeting (ASST), search and rescue, medical evacuation, and logistics support. Currently, the program is in full-scale development and is scheduled for deployment aboard cruisers, destroyers, and frigates. The helicopter to be used is the SH-60B Seahawk.

Potential problems were found which raise questions about the ability of LAMPS MK III to carry out both its ASW and ASST missions. In performing its ASW role, LAMPS MK III is dependent on other systems. Therefore, its effectiveness is contingent on the performance of those systems. Some of these systems were delayed in development or have known performance limitations. The weight of one of these systems may be of concern because of its effect on the range and endurance of the LAMPS MK III helicopter. Studies have shown that the Navy is not planning to buy enough Seahawks to meet projected requirements. GAO believes that this results in significantly understating the total cost of an effective program. While early flight and equipment testing of the helicopter system are proceeding well, problems in reliability and maintainability exist which are of developmental concern. At congressional direction, the ASST mission of the LAMPS MK III was reduced from a primary to a secondary mission as a cost savings measure. The resultant decrease in hardware capabilities reduces LAMPS MK III capability to carry out this mission. LAMPS MK III helicopters suffer from equipment limitations and could be vulnerable when performing the ASST mission. From September 1979 to September 1980, LAMPS MK III program costs have increased by 50 percent. Further cost increases are likely due to changes in helicopter procurement plans which would raise the unit cost of the Seahawk. New data indicate that the total program costs will increase by $1.6 billion.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should, in its oversight role of Defense, have a clear understanding of the issues, problems, and potential problems that exist. Such is the case with the interrelationship and interdependence of these key weapon systems that are being acquired to carry out the Navy's ASW responsibilities in countering the Soviet threat.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Navy to determine the cost impact of actions resulting from the above recommendations and disclose this information to Congress.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Navy to clearly establish the role the LAMPS MK III system is expected to fill in the ASST mission and, if the ASST mission is a major responsibility, identify actions needed to provide the desired capability.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Navy to reassess the reliability, availability, and maintainability aspects of the LAMPS MK III to determine whether it will be adequate to meet its operational requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Navy to determine the number of LAMPS MK III helicopters needed to effectively meet its ASW mission requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should address these issues and present a plan to the Congress that will sufficiently identify strengths and weaknesses of the capabilities of LAMPS and its related systems to satisfactorily perform the ASW mission.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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