Army Weapons:

Acquisition of Interim Improved Hellfire Missiles Not Justified

NSIAD-91-314: Published: Sep 6, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 6, 1991.

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GAO reviewed the Army's plan to buy interim improved HELLFIRE missiles with a portion of the fiscal year (FY) 1991 supplemental appropriation for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

GAO found that: (1) although the Department of Defense (DOD) informed GAO that the appropriation would be used to purchase the more capable HELLFIRE optimized missile, the Army plans to use most of the supplemental appropriation for HELLFIRE to purchase the interim improved HELLFIRE missile; (2) in the FY 1991 supplemental appropriation for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Congress provided $86.6 million to buy 3,150 HELLFIRE missiles; (3) during FY 1992 and FY 1993, the Army plans to buy 2,174 interim improved missiles and associated support with $62.8 million of the appropriation, and 335 optimized missiles with the remaining $23.8 million; (4) although Army tests have shown that the interim HELLFIRE missile system will penetrate more formidable tanks than the basic HELLFIRE missile, it has performance shortfalls and may not defeat the most recently deployed Soviet armor; and (5) the planned purchase of interim improved HELLFIRE missiles may not be the most effective use of appropriated defense funds since interim improved missiles have performance shortfalls, the optimized missile is scheduled for limited production in June 1992, and the Army will have over 32,000 basic and interim missiles in its inventory by February 1993.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Contrary to the recommendation, the Army used the FY 1991 Supplemental Appropriations for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm to buy interim improved Hellfire missiles. Therefore, the recommendation is no longer applicable.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to use the $86.6 million FY 1991 supplemental appropriations for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm to buy HELLFIRE optimized missiles rather than interim improved HELLFIRE missiles unless the Army clearly demonstrates a legitimate need to add more than 2,000 less capable missiles to its inventory.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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