Munitions Procurement:

Resolve Questions Before Proceeding With Sensor Fuzed Weapon Production

NSIAD-91-235: Published: Aug 16, 1991. Publicly Released: Aug 16, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Air Force's Sensor Fuzed Weapon's readiness for low-rate initial production, focusing on the: (1) status of developmental and operational testing; (2) adequacy of cost and operational effectiveness analyses; and (3) status of the threat that the weapon is intended to counter.

GAO found that: (1) as of May 1991, the Air Force had successfully completed 33 of 38 planned developmental tests and 11 of 30 planned initial operating tests; (2) although the current plan did not call for the completion of 3 developmental and 10 operational tests before the September 1991 production decision, the program manager stated that the Air Force would complete all critical tests before that time; (3) previous cost analyses indicating that the interdiction weapon was more cost-effective than existing weapons used an effectiveness criterion for close support weapons, since there was no criterion for interdiction weapons; (4) the Air Force may not include the full range of interdiction weapons in further cost-effectiveness analyses; and (5) the Air Force developed the weapon primarily to counter the Warsaw Pact's numerical tank advantage in Central Europe, but that threat has changed considerably with the Pact's disintegration.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress provided the funds requested by the Air Force, but stipulated that the funds could not be obligated until the weapon's cost effectiveness is reassessed.

    Matter: Congress should deny production funds for the sensor fuzed weapon program until the Department of Defense (DOD) reassesses the weapon's cost and operational effectiveness in relation to other interdiction weapons in the DOD inventory.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD decided not to complete development of an effectiveness criterion for interdiction weapons, or expand the range of weapons to be considered in the Sensor Fuzed Weapon's cost and operational effectiveness analysis. Nevertheless, the DOD completed analysis as planned and the Sensor Fuzed Weapon was approved for low-rate production.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should: (1) direct the Joint Technical Coordinating Group for Munitions Effectiveness to expedite its development of an effectiveness criterion for interdiction weapons; (2) direct the Secretary of the Air Force to assess the sensor fuzed weapon's cost and operational effectiveness in comparison to the full range of interdiction weapons using an approved interdiction criterion; and (3) not approve the sensor fuzed weapon for production until the Air Force conclusively demonstrates that the weapon is cost-effective in its primary mission.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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