Missile Procurement:

Further Production of AMRAAM Should Not Be Approved Until Questions Are Resolved

NSIAD-90-146: Published: May 4, 1990. Publicly Released: May 11, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the status of the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) program at the scheduled full-rate production milestone, focusing on the: (1) missile's demonstrated operational performance; (2) contractors' readiness to produce quality missiles at the required rates; and (3) latest program cost estimates.

GAO found that: (1) despite earlier tests which demonstrated AMRAAM ability to meet many performance requirements, a few critical abilities were not proven; (2) the Air Force did not show that AMRAAM provided pilots with the capability to engage four targets simultaneously or that AMRAAM worked effectively with the Sparrow missile; (3) AMRAAM reliability remains unacceptable, despite many changes to improve reliability; (4) 10 missile failures occurred within 895 flight hours, an average of 90 hours between failures, far below the interim requirement of 200 hours set for full-rate production and the final requirement of 450 hours; (5) both contractors were at least 6 months behind their latest approved delivery schedules, and neither had shown the ability to consistently deliver missiles; and (6) the estimated AMRAAM procurement cost increased to $9.4 billion, or 24 percent above the $7.6-billion adjusted statutory cost cap for the procurement of 24,000 missiles.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In the FY 1991 Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriation Act, Congress reduced the budget request for AMRAAM by $500 million. An accomplishment report has been prepared and referenced, and is pending final approval.

    Matter: Congress should deny the $1.34 billion requested for AMRAAM procurement in fiscal year (FY) 1991 because the missile's performance, reliability, producibility, and affordability remain questionable.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its August 2, 1990 response, DOD partially concurred with the recommendation, stating that it would not approve full-rate production of AMRAAM until certain conditions are met. However, DOD stated that part of the recommendation may not be in the best interest of the government.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should not approve any additional AMRAAM production until: (1) tests demonstrate that AMRAAM can meet all of its critical performance requirements and that its reliability meets the established requirements; (2) both contractors demonstrate that they can consistently produce quality missiles at the rates required by their contracts; (3) the Air Force and Navy complete their reviews of missile quantity requirements; and (4) the Department of Defense determines that the AMRAAM program is affordable within realistic future budget projections and consults with Congress to ensure that the program complies with the adjusted statutory cost cap.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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