Armored Systems Modernization:

Program Inconsistent With Current Threat and Budgetary Constraints

NSIAD-91-254: Published: Jul 29, 1991. Publicly Released: Aug 20, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Army's Armored Systems Modernization Program's (ASM) justification, affordability, and priorities.

GAO found that: (1) the Army based its ASM program justification on the projected threat of powerful and massive Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces and of a European-wide strike; (2) the Soviet Union's unilateral force reductions, the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, and the signing of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe have diminished this threat; (3) since Army procurement appropriations are expected to be constrained in the future, the affordability of the massive modernization program is questionable; (4) along with all other projected procurement needs, the ASM program will require significantly more funds than are expected to be available in fiscal years 1998 through 2008; (5) even though there was a projected delay in the fielding of the Soviet Union's future main battle tank, the Future Soviet Tank 3, the Army continues to view the Block III tank as its top priority; (6) the Army is currently developing technology that will provide the existing M1A1 tank fleet the ability to defeat the Future Soviet Tank 3 by outfitting them with new electrothermal gun technology; and (7) current artillery meets neither the current threat nor the needs of the Army's future battle doctrine, which stresses more effective long-range, agile artillery.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) terminated the ASM program, thus Congress did not appropriate specific funding for ASM.

    Matter: Congress should not provide additional funding for the ASM program without an accompanying Department of Defense reassessment of the justification and affordability of the ASM program and of the priority of vehicles within the program.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD, in June 1992, terminated the ASM program for affordability reasons and change in threat.

    Recommendation: Before seeking additional funds for the ASM program, the Secretary of Defense should reassess the ASM program's justification, affordability, and priorities in light of the significant threat changes, the projected large funding shortfalls, and the greater need for ASM vehicles other than the tank. This reassessment should accompany any request for funding the ASM program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Block III tank has been eliminated. Several ongoing tech base research projects are expected to result in significant improvements to M1A1 and A2.

    Recommendation: If the 1992 tests demonstrate the viability of the electrothermal gun technology, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Army to evaluate using the electrothermal gun to improve the lethality and survivability of the M1A1 and M1A2 tank fleets. Putting the electrothermal gun on those tank fleets would further reduce the need for the Block III tank.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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