Strategic Missiles:

Uncertainties Persist in the Advanced Cruise Missile Program

NSIAD-91-35: Published: Nov 16, 1990. Publicly Released: Nov 16, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Advanced Cruise Missile (ACM) program.

GAO found that: (1) the Air Force proposed to reduce ACM procurement from 1,461 to 1,000 missiles, due to budgetary constraints, but the Department of Defense (DOD) favored maintaining ACM procurement at 1,461 to provide additional operational flexibility; (2) several force structure issues remained unanswered, primarily time frames, the use of older missiles, and the impact of treaty agreements; (3) the Air Force could save about $734 million in procurement costs if it reduced its procurement plans by 261 missiles; (4) the Air Force's plans to competitively procure 901 missiles beginning in fiscal year (FY) 1992 may prove to be inappropriate if it reduces its planned procurement quantity; (5) flight testing indicated that ACM could meet most of its operational performance requirements, including range and accuracy; (6) even though the Air Force's ACM contractor was originally scheduled to begin deliveries in December 1986, it did not deliver its first operational ACM until June 1990; (7) the Air Force scheduled a contractor to complete qualification as a second ACM producer in April 1990 and deliver 14 qualification missiles by August 1990, but program restructuring could delay the contractor's qualification until October 1990 and delivery of the last qualification missile until December 1990; and (8) the Air Force's program cost estimate of $7 billion did not reflect potential changes in procurement quantity or acquisition strategy or include the cost of completing several important tasks.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An accomplishment report will be prepared to show that Congress reduced the advanced procurement request from $107 million to $64 million.

    Matter: The Air Force has requested advance procurement funds of $107.4 million in FY 1991 to initiate competitive procurement in FY 1992. However, until the number of ACM required is determined and an acquisition strategy validated, the need for advance procurement funds cannot be determined. Therefore, Congress may wish to consider directing that the use of those funds be minimized until the acquisition strategy is validated.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An accomplishment report is in process to show the Air Force-reduced requirement.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should determine the number of ACM needed to support the bomber force in the 1990s, giving consideration to budgetary constraints and Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty agreements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As of March 1991, the acquisition strategy issue had not been resolved. In July 1991, DOD approved an acquisition strategy. GAO has been asked to examine the planned strategy. Benefits from the new strategy are uncertain at this time.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to review the ACM competitive procurement acquisition strategy and determine whether it is still valid.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: GAO plans to determine why the eight planned follow-on test and evaluation flights are not being done as planned. DOD advised Congress that, as a result of the Gulf war and other problems, testing could not be accomplished as planned.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to conduct the eight follow-on test and evaluation flight tests planned for FY 1991 and certify that ACM can meet its full production reliability criteria before production funds beyond FY 1991 are obligated.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A revised cost estimate was prepared.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to ensure the revised cost estimate reflects recent program changes.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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