Apache Helicopter:

Serious Logistical Support Problems Must Be Solved to Realize Combat Potential

NSIAD-90-294: Published: Sep 28, 1990. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's inability to maintain its intended 70-percent availability rate for the Apache helicopter, focusing on the: (1) causes of the low availability rates; (2) implications of low availability for combat operations; and (3) Army's corrective actions.

GAO found that: (1) 11 combat battalions fell short of meeting the Army's fully-mission-capable goal by only achieving a 50-percent rate from January 1989 through April 1990; (2) maintenance units could not keep up with the Apache's high logistic support demands, since they were too small and were hampered by Army management practices and since test equipment did not perform as needed; (3) combat operations would place greater demands on Apache availability and support due to high flying hours, frequent weapons firing, and battle damage; (4) testing did not fully disclose the Apache's serious logistical support problems because of narrowly defined performance measurements and the limited realism of test conditions; (5) logistical support problems identified before production were not resolved; and (6) the Army's planned corrective actions were likely to increase Apache availability during peacetime, but it will take several years before the reliability and test equipment improvements are demonstrated and completely corrected.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Secretary of the Army Stone, on March 12, 1991, certified to the House Armed Services Committee that a comprehensive modernization program for the AH-64 fleet has been implemented. The Secretary directed the remaining funds be released for continuation of the LONGBOW program.

    Matter: Congress should direct the Secretary of Defense to defer production of the Longbow modification until the Army clearly demonstrates that: (1) it has overcome the logistical support problems with the current Apache; and (2) the Longbow will not exacerbate the Apache's logistical support problems.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress has not directed the Secretary of Defense to implement the changes emanating from the recommendations.

    Matter: Congress should direct the Secretary of Defense to implement the changes, emanating from the recommended efforts, necessary to sustain desired peacetime and wartime operations for the Apache. Such changes should not be limited to incremental improvements over current organizations and support equipment, but should include more radical solutions if they can more fully realize the Apache's combat potential.

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress has not directed the Secretary of Defense to order the Army to form an interservice team on improving the Apache's logistical support.

    Matter: Congress should direct the Secretary of Defense to form an interservice team to apply the experience of the other services in improving the Apache's logistical support, particularly in defining their personnel and organizational requirements, managing resources, collecting key support information, and relying on contractor support.

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress has not directed the Secretary of Defense to order the Army to conduct an operational test of the Apache in battalion size or greater. GAO believes that Operation Desert Storm experiences are important but do not qualify as sustained combat because the ground campaign lasted only 4 days.

    Matter: Congress should direct the Secretary of Defense to operationally test the Apache in battalion size or greater to illuminate the currently unknown demands that sustained combat will place on the Apache. Such a test should approach combat flying-hour rates, employ planned fighting doctrine, include extensive weapons firing, employ the maintenance concept that is intended for combat, and last long enough to at least exercise the full capabilities of intermediate-level maintenance. Rather than being success-oriented, it should be a no-fault test with extensive involvement by the logistics community and oriented towards discovering information. This additional testing should be conducted periodically to evaluate new approaches and to reinforce lessons learned, such as those that are likely to result from the Apache's operations in Saudi Arabia.

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress did not act, and the Army procured the last 66 Apaches.

    Matter: Congress should consider transferring the funds appropriated for the procurement of the last 66 Apaches to other appropriation accounts to provide the increased logistical support the Apache requires. If Congress decides against such a transfer, Congress should direct the Secretary of Defense to determine whether fewer Apache battalions should be fielded than planned to provide a greater concentration of resources to each battalion.

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress has not directed the Secretary of Defense to have the Army develop operational standards for the Apache's reliability, availability, and maintainability.

    Matter: Congress should direct the Secretary of Defense to develop operational standards for Apache reliability, maintainability, and availability that can be used to realistically gauge the Apache's performance in the field and in testing.

 

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