Defense Acquisitions:

Steps to Improve the Crusader Program's Investment Decisions

GAO-02-201: Published: Feb 25, 2002. Publicly Released: Feb 25, 2002.

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The Army wants an artillery system with greater firepower, range, and mobility than its current self-propelled howitzer. In 1994, the Army began to develop the Crusader, an advanced artillery system consisting of a self-propelled 155-millimeter howitzer and a resupply vehicle. The Department of Defense (DOD) will decide next year whether the Crusader program should enter its system development and demonstration stage, which will require the commitment of major resources. GAO found that the Crusader program has made considerable progress in developing key technologies and reducing its size and weight. However, more progress and knowledge is needed to minimize the risk of cost overruns, schedule delays, and performance shortfalls. The Crusader program will likely enter product development with most of its critical technologies less mature than best practices recommend. Most of the Crusader's critical technologies have been demonstrated in a relevant environment but not in the more demanding operational environment. Although the Army is reducing the Crusader's weight so that two vehicles can be deployed on a C-17 aircraft, the deployability advantage gained does not appear significant. The reduction in the Crusader system's weight would only decrease the number of C-17 flights needed to transport two complete systems and support equipment from five to four flights. A lighter system offers several other benefits, and knowing the magnitude of the deployability advantage of reduced weight would allow the Army to make better decisions on trade offs. An apparent overlap exists between the Crusader's and the Future Combat Systems' capabilities and schedules. The Army expects the Future Combat Systems to meet the same artillery missions as the Crusader and eventually replace it. The current schedules for initial fielding of the Future Combat Systems and the Crusader system occur in the same year, 2008. The extent of this apparent overlap depends more on the Future Combat Systems than the Crusader because less is known about the Future Combat Systems' technologies.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To reduce the risk of schedule delays and increased costs in the product development phase of the Crusader program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to dedicate the resources necessary to ensure that the critical Crusader technologies are demonstrated, at the component and subsystem level, in an operational environment before the program commits to product development at milestone B.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Subsequent to the issuance of GAO's report, the Secretary of Defense decided to terminate the Crusader program for reasons other than the maturity of the system's technologies.

    Recommendation: To confirm the value and usefulness of the Crusader program's deployability requirement, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to conduct an analysis, before the decision to enter product development, to determine how important it is to deploy two Crusaders howitzers on a single C-17 aircraft. If it is important to the Army, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to establish, as a key performance parameter, the maximum per vehicle weight that would allow the C-17 aircraft to carry two Crusader howitzers. If the analysis determines that the redesigned Crusader does not significantly improve the system's military utility, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to reduce the priority placed on attaining the 42-ton weight limit.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Subsequent to the issuance of GAO's report, the Secretary of Defense decided to terminate the Crusader program for reasons other than the system's ability to meet the deployability requirement.

    Recommendation: To ensure the Army does not invest in two weapon systems that will meet the same artillery missions at the same time, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to determine, based on available data, the potential capabilities and schedule of the initial version of the Future Combat Systems and the implication of those capabilities and schedule on the Crusader's utility to the Army before making the decision on beginning the Crusader's system development and demonstration--currently scheduled for April 2003.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Subsequent to the issuance of GAO's report, the Secretary of Defense terminated the Crusader program. The Secretary stated that the Army needed to pursue weapon systems that featured more precision attack and more deployability than that offered by the Crusader. One of the systems cited as deserving a higher priority and funding was the Future Combat Systems.

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