Longbow Apache Helicopter:

Key Factors Used to Measure Progress in Development Need to Be Changed

NSIAD-92-43: Published: Nov 21, 1991. Publicly Released: Dec 26, 1991.

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Thomas J. Schulz
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's acquisition plan for the Longbow Apache modernization program, focusing on whether the: (1) plan is designed to identify and correct potential problems before entering full-rate production; and (2) requirements used to evaluate the Longbow Apache will effectively measure its key performance capabilities.

GAO found that: (1) as presently planned, the Longbow Apache schedule should allow for the orderly development of technology and provides decision points for assessing progress based on test information and other developments; (2) acquisition plan features intended to minimize risk and avoid past problems included minimal concurrency between development and production, better-quality and more frequent testing, a low-rate initial production phase, and a program baseline and exit criteria to help assess the program's progression; (3) although the Army established more comprehensive reliability requirements for the Longbow section of the Longbow Apache, it did not include those measures in the requirements document or program baseline for the integrated aircraft; (4) Army plans to use outdated and narrowly defined requirements to measure the Longbow Apache's reliability, availability, and maintainability could yield a technologically enhanced helicopter that is not adequately supported in the field; and (5) if the Army continues to use this flawed measure, it may not be prepared to keep pace with the Longbow Apache's maintenance work load because it will not have enough maintenance personnel.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD responded that the Longbow program baseline has included scheduled and unscheduled mean time between maintenance action parameters since March 1991. DOD believes these parameters encompass the total maintenance workload better than the mission-oriented parameters suggested by GAO. DOD and the Army plan no further action on this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to amend the Longbow Apache's requirements document and program baseline to include the current reliability requirements mean time between mission-affecting failure and mean time between essential maintenance actions, and also amend the requirements document to include mean time between unscheduled maintenance actions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD directed the Army to expand its maintenance workload data collection effort to capture direct, indirect, and nonproduction activities, instead of revising the definition for maintenance man-hour per flight hour as GAO suggested. As of March 24, 1992, the Army has completed this effort and is implementing the results. An official Army response to the DOD-IG is forthcoming.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to revise the Army's definition of maintenance man-hours per flight hour to include, as directed by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, all time related to maintenance work on the aircraft so that an adequate number of maintenance personnel will be provided.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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