Results of Forthcoming Critical Tests Are Needed To Confirm Army Remotely Piloted Vehicle's Readiness for Production

NSIAD-84-72: Published: Apr 4, 1984. Publicly Released: Apr 4, 1984.

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GAO reviewed the changes made in the Army's remotely piloted vehicle (RPV) program during the past 2 years and analyzed the work that remains ahead. This report is one in a series of annual reports on the status of selected major weapon systems.

The Army is developing the RPV to provide field surveillance information which it relays to supporting ground units. GAO noted that the cost of the RPV program is estimated to be $2.44 billion, an increase of $1.9 billion since the baseline estimate in 1978. A major part of this increase was due to technical problems, reduced funding allocations which lengthened the program's schedule, and the addition of an infrared vision system. The remaining increase is attributable to changes in the system's concept that involve enhancements necessary to expand mission capabilities. GAO believes that the number of enhancements may represent too ambitious a program and that the potential exists for additional substantial cost increases. While most of the subsystems which had earlier technical difficulties have shown good progress when tested individually, their integration may prove difficult and this may delay initial production. Other significant problems which developed during the past year involved the vehicle's weight and the software which overtaxed the computer's internal capacity. GAO found that the tight development schedule allows little room for setbacks.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) agreed and rescheduled the production decision for FY 1986. The Secretary of Defense deferred the production contract until July 1987.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should reschedule the initial RPV production contract for award in fiscal year (FY) 1986.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed and withdrew $116.5 million from the FY 1985 budget request. DOD concurred and withdrew RPV production funds from the FY 1985 budget.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should withdraw RPV production funds from the FY 1985 budget request except for the $30 million needed for long leadtime production items.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Budgetary pressures during 1984 caused the Army to delete the funding set aside for system enhancements. Hence, the Army will not be entering budget requests in the near future. RPV enhancements were deleted from the program in FY 1985.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should analyze the planned RPV system enhancements to determine their cost-effectiveness and affordability before including them in future budget requests.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD will initiate action after the Army Systems Acquisition Review Council/Defense Systems Acquisition Review Council III decision in March 1987. Since this report, the program has been completely restructured. GAO followed up on this issue under codes 393079, 393171, and is continuing under code 393200.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should determine, through analysis, whether the number of air vehicles under the new employment concept provides enough flight hours of air coverage for the artillery mission and other missions being contemplated.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army


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