Chemical and Biological Warfare:

Use of Collective Protection on Vehicles, Aircraft, and Ships

NSIAD-91-273FS: Published: Sep 5, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 20, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the military's efforts to protect personnel in combat vehicles, aircraft, and ships against chemical and biological warfare contamination, focusing on: (1) congressional legislation and the Department of Defense (DOD) and service regulations that address collective protection devices that limit contamination; (2) weapons systems within each service that were equipped with collective protection devices; and (3) costs to equip weapons systems with such devices.

GAO found that: (1) Congress twice directed the Army to report on its efforts to protect weapons systems with some form of collective protection and the Navy has developed programs to improve the survivability of combatant ships via collective protection pursuant to a congressional requirement; (2) DOD and all the services have issued regulations requiring consideration of collective protection devices for weapons systems that may perform their missions in a chemical and biological warfare environment; (3) the Army has equipped 24 of its 40 existing armored systems with some type of collective protection and the Navy has equipped 7 ships with this type of protection, but the Air Force has not equipped its aircraft with such protection, since it emphasizes individual protection rather than collective protection; (4) the Navy is developing a collective protection system that would protect selected areas on existing ships, which is a less expensive alternative than protecting an entire ship; (5) Air Force crews are protected inside the aircraft with individual protection garments and breathing apparatuses; (6) only limited information was available on the cost of collective protection devices in weapon systems and, in many cases, cost estimates were outdated; and (7) production and installation costs to equip the Army's M1A1 tank with collective protection were about $47,000, and Navy officials estimated that equipment and installation costs to protect one section of an existing ship would total about $200,000.

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