The Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile:

Resolve Uncertainties Before Production

C-NSIAD-84-18: Published: May 7, 1984. Publicly Released: May 7, 1984.

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GAO conducted a review to examine the potential usefulness and progress of the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) System, which the Air Force and the Navy are developing.

GAO found that AMRAAM might go into production without adequate assurance that it will be operationally effective. If all goes as planned, the Air Force will exercise several priced production options while some initial operational testing and evaluation is still going on. However, the risks involved in committing resources before completing testing may be greater than the Air Force currently envisions due to potential delays in development and testing schedules. If such delays occur, the Air Force will have inadequate information on the expiration dates for the production options. In addition, GAO found that the program's estimated cost has more than tripled since concept validation began 4 years ago, it does not include all costs, and there is some uncertainty associated with certain cost elements. If costs are not controlled, potential cost increases could affect the procurement rate, inventory levels, and the overall combat effectiveness of the program. Finally, GAO found that the Air Force's cost-effectiveness study excluded some significant costs and did not consider recent cost increases.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with this recommendation. DOD did explore the feasibility of contract modification; however, the production options expired and the contract now requires a complete production restructure.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to explore the feasibility of negotiating a contract modification which would provide that production options not expire until specific test objectives have been achieved in initial operational test and evaluation with F-15 and F-16 aircraft.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The joint cost-effectiveness study was completed in 1986. In May and June 1986 briefings to congressional staffs and the Air Force, GAO suggested that the AMRAAM planned procurement rate be reduced. Subsequently, Congress passed P.L. 99-591, which reduced the Air Force's fiscal year (FY) 1987 request from 260 missiles to 180, and the Air Force reduced its FY 1988 request from 833 missiles to 633.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Air Force and the Navy to: (1) make a joint cost-effectiveness study using the most complete and current cost and performance estimates; and (2) use the results of that study to determine how force-level effectiveness would be affected by reductions in planned procurement rates.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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