Navy Air Launched Missiles--Increased Availability Through Improved Inspection and Maintenance Scheduling Practices

C-PLRD-82-2: Published: Dec 16, 1981. Publicly Released: Dec 16, 1981.

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The Navy's tactical air-to-air missiles are a key element of U.S. defense. Many of the Navy's surface-launched and air-to-surface missiles met or exceeded asset readiness objectives, the yearend percentage goal of serviceable assets divided by total assets, for fiscal year 1980. However, the Navy did not achieve its objectives for the Sparrow, Sidewinder, and PHOENIX tactical air-to-air missiles for fiscal year 1980 and for the first 6 months of fiscal year 1981. GAO made this review to determine the Navy's effectiveness in managing its existing inventory of Sparrow, Sidewinder, and PHOENIX air-to-air missiles. GAO focused primarily on ways the Navy can optimize the availability of these missiles to sustain wartime operations.

The large number of these unserviceable missiles is one of several factors which limits the Navy's ability to achieve its asset readiness objectives. The Navy, therefore, must intensively manage its existing inventory by using maintenance practices that assure the optimum availability of a limited number of air-launched missiles. After recognizing that serviceable missiles were being received into the naval weapons stations' inventory as unserviceable, the Navy took several actions to reduce the number of unserviceable missiles being admitted. However, additional actions are needed. In some cases, missiles arriving at the weapons stations are being placed in storage and must await inspection and maintenance because advance inspection results are not being adequately considered. As a result, the Navy is not always achieving the most rapid possible turnaround of its missiles and may be increasing maintenance costs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. 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 the Navy should direct the Naval Air Systems Command to provide presentencing data to the applicable weapons station immediately upon completion of the inspection to assist station personnel in scheduling maintenance work and improving turnaround time.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  2. 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 the Navy should direct the Naval Sea Systems Command to coordinate with the Naval Air Systems Command in developing standard coding criteria for air-launched missiles and these criteria should be used in inventory records and reports to accurately reflect whether a missile is serviceable and issuable.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  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 the Navy should direct the Naval Air Systems Command to critically examine missile authorization and funding procedures since some project orders (contracts) do not provide funds for cheaper missile sentencing inspections. The Command should consider the costs and benefits of establishing separate contracts for missile sentencing inspections and required intermediate level maintenance. If this practice proves to be cost effective, the Command should institute separate contracts for these varying activity levels.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: A cost-benefit study showed that separate facilities would not be cost effective.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should direct naval weapons stations to provide separate missile inspection facilities at each weapons station engaged in intermediate missile maintenance so that a missile's condition can be immediately determined upon receipt and serviceable missiles can be made available for issue.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  5. 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 the Navy should direct the Naval Sea Systems Command to provide to the appropriate management level data on the time required to return missiles from carriers to the weapons stations. The Command should use this information to establish policies and procedures that will ensure critically short air-to-air missiles are promptly returned to the weapons stations for rework and reissue.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  6. 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 the Navy should direct the Naval Sea Systems Command to emphasize to weapons stations the importance of coordinating their fleet-returned missile processing with inspection work already done on board carriers during presentencing to avoid placing serviceable missiles into storage to await maintenance at the weapons stations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  7. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: A cost-benefit study showed that separate facilities would not be cost effective.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should direct naval weapons stations to inspect, code, and segregate applicable air-to-air missiles upon receipt or immediately thereafter to increase missile availability and assure minimun maintenance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

 

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