Army Aviation:

Apache Longbow Weight and Communication Issues

NSIAD-98-203: Published: Sep 15, 1998. Publicly Released: Sep 15, 1998.

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GAO reviewed the Army's Apache Longbow helicopter program to determine if its operational requirements will be met, focusing on whether the Apache Longbow will meet: (1) the validated key performance requirement for vertical rate of climb (VROC); and (2) the requirement to transfer target data between Apache Longbow helicopters.

GAO noted that: (1) the Apache Longbow program needs to be reassessed because the helicopter does not meet two key user requirements; (2) the Army's 227 radar-equipped Apache Longbow helicopters will be too heavy to achieve the validated VROC requirement of 450 feet per minute in the combat mission configuration when carrying the required 12 Longbow Hellfire missiles and a full fuel load; (3) as a result, the helicopters will not have acceptable levels of maneuverability and agility to successfully operate in combat; (4) even though the Apache Longbow is reported to have significantly greater overall capability than the original Apache, its VROC and corresponding maneuverability will be less than that of the original Apache; (5) Army plans to modify the system will add weight and therefore exacerbate this problem; (6) the impact of weight on the ability of non-radar-equipped Apache Longbow helicopters to achieve VROC performance requirements is even greater because of the less-powerful engines used in these helicopters; (7) at initial operational capability, the Apache Longbow will not have a radio that will allow it to transfer target data between helicopters when concealed or not in the line of sight; (8) unresolved technical issues have delayed the radio's development; (9) the Army plans to install the non-line-of-sight radio on only one-half of the total Apache Longbow helicopter fleet; and (10) the lack of this capability throughout the fleet results in an overall reduction in lethality due to the inability to transfer target data between Apache Longbow helicopters and decreased survivability caused by the greater exposure to hostile forces.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD plans to take no action on the recommendation to reassess the Apache Longbow helicopter program to determine whether its performance capabilities will be sufficient to meet its critical warfighting missions. It noted that "past analyses have consistently shown that the Apache Longbow, given that it meets its performance requirements--which it does--can meet its critical warfighting missions. There is no need to repeat those analyses."

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should reassess the Apache Longbow program to determine whether its performance capabilities will be sufficient to meet its critical warfighting missions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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