ICBM Modernization:

Rail Garrison Production Decision and Launch Car Acquisition Should Be Delayed

NSIAD-90-19: Published: Dec 7, 1989. Publicly Released: Dec 7, 1989.

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GAO reviewed the Air Force's intercontinental ballistic missile modernization efforts, focusing on the Department of Defense's (DOD) decision to rebase Peacekeeper missiles to rail garrisons, which provided the Air Force an opportunity to revise its missile launch schedule and more fully consider operational test and evaluation results before deciding to begin initial and full-rate production.

GAO found that: (1) although DOD planned initial operational capability for the rebased missiles in 1992 and full operational capability in 1994, the Air Force did not plan any operational testing and evaluation of the complete system prior to the initial production decision; (2) DOD scheduled an initial low-rate production decision for the missile launch cars for 1990, with a full production decision in 1992; (3) the Air Force planned to purchase 73 percent of the launch cars in connection with the initial production decision, which would amount to a full-rate production decision, in the absence of any complete testing; and (4) delaying production could preclude potential cost growth, program slippages, and performance shortfalls.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: By letter dated January 24, 1992, DOD noted that this program was terminated by the President on September 27, 1991.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should delay the April 1990 initial Rail Garrison production decision until the Air Force has conducted some operational test and evaluation of the complete weapon system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: By letter dated January 24, 1992, DOD noted that this program was terminated by the President on September 27, 1991.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should revise the Air Force's current acquisition schedules so that the majority of the operational launch cars are not procured until after a final production decision, based on a completed operational test and evaluation program, has been made.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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