Air Force Purchase of 30mm Gun Pod System

MASAD-82-9: Published: Dec 16, 1981. Publicly Released: Dec 16, 1981.

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The Air Force has entered into a highly concurrent development and production program for a 30mm gun pod; the urgent need for this equipment is questionable. The 30mm gun pod is a self-contained pneumatic driven fourbarrel gun system to be externally mounted on high performance aircraft. The weapon system is to provide the Tactical Air Force with an increased capability to attack numerous and varied ground targets and provide a low cost, low complexity alternative to several existing systems.

In an attempt to improve the antiarmor capability of the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF), the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Research and Engineering requested that the Air Force undertake the development of the 30mm gun pod with a target initial operational capability of June 1982, or no later than fiscal year 1983. The 30mm gun pods were flight tested in 1979; the Air Force in July 1980 entered into a full-scale development contract to correct problems identified in the tests. The contractor is to provide two pods in January 1982 and two pods in April 1982 for environmental, developmental, and operational testing. In August of 1981, the Air Force entered into approximately a $32 million production contract for 30mm gunpods. In November 1981, the Air Force exercised a $42 million option for additional pods. With the environmental, developmental, and operational testing not scheduled to begin until January 1982, it would appear that the Air Force's action to enter into a production contract may have been premature. Specific plans to delete the pods from 1983 procurements and to reassign some to the Air National Guard raise questions about the urgency of the program and strongly indicate that the 30mm gun pod program does not warrant the level of concurrency involved in this program. GAO believes that the entire procurement should be reassessed.

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