Abrams Tank:

Block II Modifications Not Ready to Enter Production

NSIAD-90-57: Published: Feb 28, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 1, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's Block II Abrams tank modification program.

GAO found that: (1) proposed tank armor modifications may not have the anticipated impact on tank survivability; (2) the Army's tank weight-reduction program, designed to counteract the new armor's added stresses on the tank's suspension, may not achieve performance goals, since its effects will not be evident until the tank enters production; (3) the modifications will add 20 percent to the tank's current price and increase the cost for each tank beyond the $3.037-million production ceiling, raising concerns that program costs might exceed affordable levels; (4) the Army's acquisition schedule was risky, since it committed production funds before testing data were available; (5) the Army may not realize anticipated tank-maintenance benefits from the new system's automated diagnostics, since manual repairs would require highly skilled electronics personnel; (6) the Army had not established new tank and tank-maintenance training requirements and its training cost estimates were inaccurate; (7) the Army had not demonstrated through analyses that the integrated system would perform as expected; (8) the Army's operational evaluation assumed performance factors that overstated the new tank's cost-effectiveness; and (9) there was no basis for the Army's belief that the new tank's fielding and testing would support future tank development efforts.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Secretary of Defense decided to approve funding of only 62 tanks for testing and demonstration purposes. The remaining 2864 tanks will not be produced.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should withhold approval of the obligation of advanced or other procurement funds for the Block II tank program until the Army is able to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of the system, using a current assessment of armor protection and threat capabilities and realistic tactical and tank-crew fighting assumptions in a new cost and operational effectiveness analysis.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Secretary of Defense decided to approve funding of only 62 tanks for testing and demonstration purposes. The remaining 2864 tanks will not be produced.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should withhold approval of the obligation of advanced or other procurement funds for the Block II tank program until the Army modifies its acquisition strategy to allow time to complete and evaluate live-fire and operational testing and take corrective actions before beginning production of the Block II modifications.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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