Findings Resulting From Initial Review of the Ballistic Missile Programs of the Department of the Air Force

B-133042: Published: Dec 27, 1960. Publicly Released: Dec 27, 1960.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The General Accounting Office has performed a review of the administrative management of the THOR ballistic missile program of the Air Force and, to a lesser extent, of its ATLAS and TITAN programs. This review was made pursuant to the Budget and Accounting Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C. 531), the Accounting and Auditing Act of- 1950 (31 U.S.C. 67), and the authority of the Comptroller General to examine contractors' records, as set forth in 10 U.S.C. 2313(b). When we began our review of the Air Force ballistic missile programs, the THOR intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) program was in a more advanced stage of development than the ATLAS or TITAN intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) programs and we, therefore, selected the THOR program for initial review, While we subsequently extended our review to the ATLAS and TITAN programs, this report deals primarily with certain findings in connection with the THOR program. Additional reports dealing with other aspects of these programs will be issued from time to time as our reviews are completed. The Air Force has reported that significant progress has been made in the ballistic missile program. That there has been progress and that notable accomplishments have been made are not questioned.

As explained in our initial report on this review, released in May 1960, we have been denied access to basic information, records, and reports, and our review has been seriously handicapped. Nevertheless, we have noted certain management weaknesses and activities involving excessive costs. The adoption of storable fuels in the TITAN program was delayed without apparent justification, and as a result the planned operational date for the first TITAN squadron having significant operational advantages has been postponed 5 months. The limited information made available to us showed that about $163 million would be needed to add storable fuels to this program, and we were told informally that the major obstacle to the program change was the limited fund availability. While the proposed expenditure of such a substantial sum requires careful consideration, it would appear in view of the top priority assigned to the intercontinental ballistic missile program in the defense of this Nation that immediate action should have been taken to provide for obtaining this military capability as soon as responsible organizations had made sufficient tests to determine that adopting this plan was feasible and advisable. There was an unwarranted delay in providing vitally important captive test facilities for the THOR program. Flight testing of THOR development missiles was attempted more than 1 year prior to captive testing of an assembled missile, with unfavorable results. THOR missiles were shipped to the flight test center prior to incorporation of necessary modifications, with consequent adverse effects. Flight failures of one ATLAS and one THOR caused by turbopump deficiencies could have been avoided without delay in the program.

Jan 14, 2021

Jan 12, 2021

Dec 10, 2020

Dec 2, 2020

Nov 20, 2020

Nov 19, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here