U.S. Army's Procurements of Battle Effects Simulators

GAO-01-1113R: Published: Aug 29, 2001. Publicly Released: Aug 29, 2001.

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Allen Li
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The Army uses battle effects simulators on training ranges to help prepare its soldiers for realistic combat conditions. The simulators fire pyrotechnic cartridges that simulate the sound, smoke, and flash of shells being fired from or striking targets, such as armored vehicles. Concerns have been raised about the safety of the simulators now being used by the Army and the possibility that U.S. companies may be excluded from full and open competition for new simulators. The Army's existing battle effects simulators have experienced more than 120 documented malfunctions, many of which caused serious injuries, such as third-degree burns, loss of appendages, and lacerations. The Army has tried to make the devices safer and has suspended their use many times. It is also assessing the safety and the effectiveness of a new system from a foreign source. However, it does not plan to assess a U.S. system due to funding limitations. The Army could rely on the Marine Corps' planned type classification of a U.S. produced device to certify another qualified source for future competition.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: According to DOD and Army officials that were previously involved with battlefield effects simulator issues, the Army did not have the funding to conduct another type classification, and did not use the type classification of the Navy/Marine Corps device.

    Recommendation: Since the Army may not have funds available to conduct another type classification, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Army to consider using the type classification planned to be carried out by the Navy for the Marine Corps on a U.S. produced device to provide it with another potentially safer and less expensive source for battle effects simulators and cartridges.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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