M1 Tanks:

Status of Proposed Overhaul Program

NSIAD-96-100: Published: Apr 10, 1996. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 1996.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the absence of a procurement program to modernize the M1 tank fleet beyond the upgrade of existing tanks and to address new tank threats, focusing on: (1) whether the current readiness level of the M1 tank is adequate to meet its war-fighting requirements; (2) whether the operating condition of the tanks at the National Training Center (NTC) is adequate to meet training requirements; (3) whether the change in repair parts funding has adversely affected unit maintenance; and (4) the status of the Army's proposed M1 tank overhaul program, referred to as the Abrams Integrated Management XXI (AIM XXI) program.

GAO found that: (1) as of March 31, 1995, over 94 percent of the active and reserve Army units reported that their M1 tanks were ready to perform the majority of the assigned wartime missions, and about 56 percent of the units reported that their M1 tanks were ready to perform all of their assigned wartime missions; (2) because of the high operating tempo of the training tanks, the M1 tanks at NTC are experiencing more maintenance problems than tanks in active Army units; (3) however, in spite of the maintenance problems, NTC has fielded the required number of tanks to meet all of its training requirements; (4) on average, the NTC M1 fleet maintained an operational readiness rate of about 82 percent for the 8-month period that ended December 1995; (5) commanders at three Army divisions that have 834 M1 tanks told GAO that the change in repair parts funding had not caused them to alter their maintenance approach; (6) the commanders cited some instances in which they had experienced repair parts shortages; (7) however, they emphasized that lack of funds to buy the parts was not the reason for the shortages; (8) the parts were generally not available in the supply system; (9) notwithstanding, some Army officials have proposed a M1 overhaul program, at a cost of $559,000 a tank, because they were concerned that latent deficiencies that do not show up during routine readiness inspections could show up during wartime and affect the tanks' performance; (10) other Army officials, however, are resistant to the overhaul program because of concerns that the program would take funds away from the ongoing M1A2 upgrade program; (11) the Army does not maintain data that show the extent, if any, of the latent deficiencies, nor does the Army have a predictive readiness system that would show what would happen to operational readiness if there were no depot overhaul program; and (12) at the time GAO completed its review, the Army had not made a decision concerning the proposed overhaul program.

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