The Army's AH-64 Helicopter and HELLFIRE Missile Retain Risks as They Enter Production

C-MASAD-83-9: Published: Jan 26, 1983. Publicly Released: Jan 26, 1983.

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GAO reviewed the risks still facing the AH-64 advanced attack helicopter and the Hellfire missile upon entering production, and the progress the Department of Defense (DOD) has made in addressing these risks. The programs' affordability will continue to meet congressional questioning as future production increments are considered for funding.

GAO found that there are no indications at this time that either the AH-64 or Hellfire programs should not continue on their present schedules. However, some aspects of both programs bear watching if they are to continue the progress they have made in the past year. GAO pointed out that the government must complete testing and evaluation to verify the success of modifications made to certain critical components which earlier had exhibited some performance problems. DOD officials have closely managed the production aspects of both programs, and many uncertainties have become better understood. Projected costs for building the AH-64 and the Hellfire have escalated the original procurement cost figures and, the Army has reduced significantly the number of helicopters to be procured. GAO stated that the actual affordability of the programs cannot be adequately determined until the production stage has begun and several areas of uncertainty are clarified.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army recently completed operational testing of its test station and has fielded it.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should have an Army test and evaluation agency conduct realistic operational testing of the automatic test station and evaluate the results before its fielding.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: During 1985, the Army stabilized total Hellfire quantities and is procuring toward that amount.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should develop firm Hellfire quantity requirements, including those needed for testing and training, and have their cost reflected in the total program cost.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should, before approving future funding requests for higher production rates of the AH-64 and Hellfire, weigh the progress made in demonstrating production capabilities and overcoming technical problems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Secretary of Defense has deleted the risk money because subsequent production experience indicates that it will not be needed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should wait until sufficient actual production experience permits establishing a credible program cost estimate and a conclusive determination is made that the risk money will not be needed for contingencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Secretary of Defense has approved the program quantity increase.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should withhold approval for a program quantity increase above the currently planned procurement of 446 AH-64 aircraft.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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