Javelin Antitank Weapon:

Quantity and Identification Capability Need to Be Reassessed

NSIAD-92-330: Published: Sep 14, 1992. Publicly Released: Sep 24, 1992.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Army's Javelin antitank weapon system program, focusing on the: (1) causes for cost increases and schedule delays and the likelihood of further increases and delays; (2) the Army's reassessment of the number of Javelins it needs, based on current threat assessments; and (3) Javelin's improved capability for distinguishing friend from foe.

GAO found that: (1) the Army's total cost estimate for the Javelin increased from $7.6 billion in June 1989 to $11.9 billion in August 1991; (2) the $1.1-billion increase in acquisitions costs is primarily due to an expanded production period and contractor problems in developing a missile component; (3) the $3.2-billion increase in fielding and support costs is primarily due to higher costs for field and support services, higher charges for spare parts, and higher escalation rates in estimates; (4) the Army's cost estimate for producing the missile's focal plane array component is optimistic and understated; (5) the Army restructured the original 36-month Javelin development schedule to a 54-month schedule after the contractor encountered significant problems in developing the focal plane array component; (6) the Army and the Department of Defense (DOD) assess the restructured schedule as posing a moderate risk because of the limited time available for redesigning and retesting; (7) the Army plans to maintain its original plans to procure 58,000 Javelin missiles, in spite of the dramatic decline in assessed threats since June 1989; (8) the Marine Corps reduced its planned procurement of Javelin missiles by over 30 percent; (9) although the Javelin is not required to distinguish friend from foe, the Army has not scheduled its advanced sensor, which offers some inherent capability, for assessment; and (10) DOD stated that modern weapons needed such identification capability, and Desert Storm experience reinforced the need for such capability.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In preparation for the Low-Rate Initial Production Decision Defense Acquisition Board, the Office of the Secretary of Defense has asked the Army to update its Cost and Operational Effectiveness Analysis (COEA). In December 1993, because of force reductions and budgetary constraints, the Army reduced its planned procurements of Javelin missiles and command launch units. The Army reduced planned missile procurements from 58,000 to 25,126, or by 56.7 percent, and planned command launch unit procurements from 5,000 to 3,855 units, or 41.2 percent.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should reassess the quantity of Javelin missiles and command launch units needed in light of the current threat assessments and Army force structure reduction plans.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Javelin is not required to have the capability to distinguish friend from foe. The Army evaluated the Javelin's capability in this area during developmental and operational tests. The Army found that the Javelin has some inherent capabilities. The gunner can, to some extent, identify target images produced by the Javelin's infrared optics to distinguish friend from enemy. However, the gunner's ability to accomplish this task will be dependent on (1) the weather, (2) distance from the target, and (3) training. Because of the number of friendly fire deaths during Operation Desert Storm, the Army is developing identification equipment. Its current expectation is that this equipment, suitable for use with the Javelin, will be available about 5 years after the Javelin is first provided to the soldier.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should determine whether the Javelin should be capable of positive target identification and, if so, define the capability as part of the system's operational requirement.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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