Missile Procurement:

Limit Procurement of AMRAAMs Until the Missile's Lethality Is Improved

NSIAD-92-243: Published: Jul 30, 1992. Publicly Released: Jul 30, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the procurement of the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), focusing on: (1) the requirements, cost, and schedule for improvements; and (2) the current production status of the missile.

GAO found that: (1) the total AMRAAM improvement program cost is estimated to be $446 million; (2) four areas earmarked for improvement are missile size, electronic counter countermeasures (ECCM), lethality, and propulsion; (3) the first phase of the improvement program is estimated to cost $197 million for ECCM improvements and greater fighter aircraft compatibility; (4) the second phase concentrates on warhead size, the fuze, ECCM, and the target detection device to improve lethality, at an estimated cost of $170 million; (5) cost estimates for the third phase total $79 million, for propulsion development and further ECCM improvements; (6) Air Force tests show lethality problems with the AMRAAM warhead and a need for improvements against advanced threats; (7) the acceleration of lethality improvements involves higher-risk advanced technologies due to a shorter warhead development schedule and retrofitting costs of $51,000 per missile; (8) the Air Force estimates that 43 percent, or 6,600 missiles, will include lethality improvements; and (9) delayed procurement would increase the number of missiles available and save about $30 million in retrofitting costs.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In the DOD Appropriation Act for Fiscal Year 1993, Congress reduced the Air Force request by $98.7 million and 115 missiles and reduced the Navy request by $14.7 million and no change in missile quantities. An accomplishment report will be prepared.

    Matter: Congress should deny funds for 581 missiles for fiscal year 1993 because: (1) the missiles are scheduled to be delivered beyond that fiscal year's funded delivery period; and (2) delaying procurement of these missiles until after lethality improvements can be incorporated in the production line would ensure that more missiles are produced with the improvements. As stated in the GAO May 1, 1992 letter, this would amount to a reduction of approximately $250 million.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD did not concur with the recommendation to reduce future AMRAAM procurement quantities. DOD stated that it was taking action to ensure that the lethality improvements would be incorporated into as many missiles as possible.

    Recommendation: Because of the issues and cost associated with retrofitting AMRAAM with the new warhead and the uncertain financial benefit of competition, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Air Force and the Navy to reduce AMRAAM future procurements to the minimum production rates needed to sustain contractor operations until the lethality improvements are incorporated in the missile.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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