Survey of the Readiness of Minuteman Missiles

LCD-80-102: Published: Sep 16, 1980. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 1980.

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In April 1980, GAO began a survey of the readiness of Minuteman strategic missiles. The principle objectives were to examine: (1) the adequacy of readiness reporting procedures; (2) the crews' status and training; (3) impacts of planned modifications and modernization programs on the missiles' capabilities; and (4) the efficiency of logistics support systems. However, because of severe constraints on GAO audit resources, and because limited tests indicated that reported high levels of readiness appeared accurate, the audit was suspended. During the survey, though, several situations were found to warrant management attention.

First, the Air Force may be able to use 30 currently unused magnetic drum memory units as spares. This would eliminate the need to purchase additional units as spares and reduce the need for a planned repair program for such units. Second, The Air Force has stopped assigning rated pilots and navigators to missile launch crews and plans to reassign, over the next 3 years, those currently serving as launch crewmembers. The Air Force, however, has no plans for achieving the significant savings possible through accelerating reassignment of these personnel to flying duties whenever practical. Third, there is disagreement over the necessity for an extended emergency survivable power source for Minuteman missiles. Many matters warrant consideration in reaching a final decision on this issue.

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