Army's M109 Howitzer:

Required Testing Should Be Completed Before Full-Rate Production

NSIAD-92-44: Published: Jan 23, 1992. Publicly Released: Jan 23, 1992.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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GAO reviewed the Army's Howitzer Improvement Program, focusing on: (1) whether the Army has resolved deficiencies disclosed during developmental and operational tests and evaluations; (2) whether the Army should conduct further operational testing prior to additional procurements; and (3) substantial unit cost increases over original estimates.

GAO found that: (1) the Army approved and contracted for low-rate initial production of the Paladin, a modified howitzer, despite unresolved operational technical problems; (2) the Army has made changes to the howitzers to correct such problems and is producing howitzers that include most of the improvements; (3) the Army will not know whether changes have actually resolved problems until the howitzers are tested further; (4) the Army plans to conduct a follow-on operational test and evaluation of Paladin howitzers to verify that the contractor has resolved the previously identified problems; (5) the Army could procure significant quantities of Paladin howitzers before the contractor completes operational testing and evaluation; and (6) unit cost increases occurred because of changes in the howitzer's configuration, a quantity reduction, and 6 years of inflation.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army's Test and Evaluation Plan for the M109A6 Paladin Follow-on Test and Evaluation tested problems experienced with automatic fire control system, generator, and microclimatic conditioning system, and "flarebacks" during earlier testing have been corrected. Testing demonstrated that the issues that were not met during Initial Operational Test and Evaluation were successfully resolved.

    Recommendation: To reduce the risks of costly retrofits or fielding an ineffective system, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to: (1) include specific tests in the test and evaluation plan for the follow-on operational test and evaluation to verify that problems experienced with Paladins during earlier testing have been corrected; and (2) successfully complete the follow-on test and evaluation before approving full-rate production.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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