Abrams Tank:

Efforts to Address Engine Recuperator Problems

NSIAD-93-135: Published: Mar 5, 1993. Publicly Released: Mar 5, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's efforts to improve the engine recuperator used in the M1 Abrams tank, focusing on the: (1) Army's reasons for cancelling two contracts for alternate designs of the recuperator; (2) technical difficulties and cost overruns each contractor encountered; and (3) Army's current plans to develop an improved recuperator.

GAO found that: (1) the Army cancelled the alternate recuperator contracts because there was no need to purchase new spare recuperators until fiscal year 1995; (2) repairing recuperators at an Army depot was more cost-effective than purchasing new recuperators from the manufacturer; (3) the Army has accumulated a large quantity of serviceable recuperators and eliminated the need for reserve stock; (4) two contractors experienced a series of problems and increased contract costs in developing their alternate recuperator prototypes; and (5) the extent of recuperator failures is unknown, since the Army does not systematically collect field data on how often recuperators fail.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Based on the Army's action subsequent to the issuance of this report, this recommendation should be closed. The Army, in its July 20, 1993 response, stated that it had now collected data on the laser-welded recuperator on both production M1A1 tanks and upweighted M1A1 test vehicles to adequately address GAO concerns. The Army has also initiated a study to determine the expected field life of an overhauled engine. The study will provide specific data on module (including recuperator) replacement rates and will include the evaluation of 25 engines. Testing will run until all 25 engines fail or November 1993, whichever comes first. An in-depth failure analysis program is also in place and involves the Program Management Office, the Tank-Automotive Command, the Anniston Army Depot, and Textron (the contractor) as participants. Useful life of overhauled recuperators will be derived. Of the 13 M1A1 overhauled engines currently undergoing test and evaluation, there has been one failure.

    Recommendation: Before the Army makes a decision on whether to acquire the improved recuperator, the Secretary of the Army should collect and evaluate field data on the performance of the laser-welded recuperator on both the M1A1 and M1A2 tanks.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Based on action taken, this recommendation should be closed. The Army conducted laser-welded recuperator tests on 10 M1A2 70-ton tanks with four recuperator failures in about 19,000 miles and 6,000 hours of testing. The Army stated that those results demonstrate the need for the improved design for the heavier M1A2 and are adequate to approve a change to begin testing the improved recuperator.

    Recommendation: Before the Army makes a decision on whether to acquire the improved recuperator, the Secretary of the Army should test the proposed improved recuperator on a fully equipped M1A2 tank to determine whether it has significantly greater durability than the current laser-welded recuperator.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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