Abrams Tank:

Operating Costs More Than Expected

NSIAD-91-114: Published: Feb 28, 1991. Publicly Released: Mar 22, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the operating cost and the readiness of the Army's M1 Abrams tank, focusing on: (1) whether the Army expected the M1 tank to be cheaper to operate and support than the M60 tank; (2) the comparison between the costs to operate and support the M1 tank and the M60 tank; and (3) whether the M1 tank was meeting its field operational readiness goals.

GAO found that: (1) the M1 Abrams tank was faster, more survivable, and more lethal than the M60 tank, but was not cheaper to operate and support; (2) the M1 and M1A1 tanks cost 4.2 times and 3.2 times as much per mile, respectively, to operate and support than the M60 tank; (3) the Army undertook a number of ongoing efforts to reduce Abrams operational and support costs, such as fielding a more durable tank track, reducing fuel usage, and improving fault diagnosis; and (4) Abrams readiness rates usually exceeded the Army's 90-percent readiness requirement, but the readiness reporting procedures included reporting exceptions that could have allowed the inclusion of noncapable tanks in the readiness rates.

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