Army Aviation:

Modernization Strategy Needs to Be Reassessed

NSIAD-95-9: Published: Nov 21, 1994. Publicly Released: Dec 5, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed whether: (1) the Army's plan for modernizing its aviation fleet is still valid; (2) there are alternative aircraft systems to the ones the Army plans to acquire; and (3) the Army's funding plans will meet all of its modernization requirements.

GAO found that: (1) the validity of the Army's aviation modernization strategy is questionable; (2) the Army has overstated expected benefits and has understated the technical risks associated with the major systems that comprise its modernization strategy; (3) some Army personnel are concerned that the current procurement plan could result in an inappropriate mix of helicopters and adversely impact their operational effectiveness; (4) the Army has not fully considered alternative helicopters and weapon systems that could accomplish many of the planned roles and missions of the Comanche helicopter; (5) the Army plans to use most of its available resources to procure Comanche helicopters and upgrade Apache helicopters while deferring or cancelling funding of other Army helicopter modernization programs; (6) the Army's Comanche program will be short about $540 million through fiscal year 2004; and (7) to address the shortfall in Comanche funding, the Army plans to streamline the developmental stages of the Comanche program, thereby increasing the risks associated with entering production before the aircraft has been tested and shown to meet specifications.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army has revised its Army Modernization Strategy--a subset of which is the Aviation Modernization Strategy. It was issued on January 3, 1995. In December 1994, DOD significantly revised its aviation modernization strategy. It deferred procurement of the Comanche helicopter and cut funding by $2 billion.

    Matter: In reviewing the Army's revised Aviation Modernization Plan currently planned to be submitted in January 1995, Congress should consider whether it adequately addresses the issues in this report. Congress may also wish to consider requiring the Secretary of the Army to forego any acquisition streamlining initiatives for the Comanche program until the revised modernization strategy is submitted.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has revised its Army Modernization Strategy--a subset of which is the Aviation Modernization Strategy. It was issued on January 3, 1995. In December 1994, DOD significantly revised its aviation modernization strategy. It deferred procurement of the Comanche helicopter and cut funding by $2 billion.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should revise the Army's aviation modernization strategy in order to consider: (1) the agreed upon force structure; (2) the validated mix and quantity of helicopters for each aviation unit; and (3) an analysis of appropriate alternative capabilities to satisfy the aviation mission's various roles. This could be done at the same time the next Aviation Modernization Plan is prepared.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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