2002 Update of the 155mm Lightweight Howitzer

GAO-02-898R: Published: Jul 24, 2002. Publicly Released: Aug 2, 2002.

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This report describes the schedule, cost, and technical status of the 155mm Lightweight Howitzer program. The Army-Marine Corps Lightweight Howitzer Joint Program Office directs this program's development, with a British company as the prime contractor. Since GAO's April 2000 report (See GAO-01-603R), all key milestones have slipped because a 2-year low-rate initial production phase has been added to provide production representative howitzers for operational testing. Correspondingly, the full-rate production decision has slipped from September 2002 to October 2004. Since April 2001, total program cost estimates have increased from $1,209.0 million to $1,365.2 million, principally as the result of the large number of design modifications resulting from developmental testing and restructuring the program to add a low-rate initial production phase. In addition, the costs for the towed artillery digitization increased by $51 million. Technical problems--such as the durability of the optical fire control, bore sight retention, and accuracy--have been addressed through design changes. However, some of these changes have not yet been tested, and the Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity has yet to review test data that the program office believes shows the howitzer has met accuracy requirements. Additional information is being collected for the upcoming decision on whether the program should enter low-rate initial production. This includes (1) the final results from the operational assessment, (2) the results from planned testing of the strength and accuracy of the first pilot production howitzer, and (3) an assessment from independent contractors on production readiness and the cost of complete production of the howitzer.

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