U.S. Special Operations Forces:

Helicopter Cost Is Understated and Reliability Measures Are Inadequate

NSIAD-94-46: Published: Jan 25, 1994. Publicly Released: Jan 25, 1994.

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Thomas J. Schulz
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Office of Public Affairs
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GAO reviewed the Army Special Operations Forces Helicopter Program, focusing on whether the: (1) U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has provided Congress with appropriate program cost information; and (2) Army's reliability measures for the MH-47E and MH-60K helicopters are adequate.

GAO found that: (1) the $1.2 billion estimate reported to Congress does not reflect the total costs to develop and procure MH-47E and MH-60K helicopters; (2) the USSOCOM budget estimate does not include $367 million in procurement costs or the total cost to maintain the aircraft because these costs are included in Army budget documents; (3) USSOCOM is not required to provide Congress with life-cycle cost estimates for the aircraft; (4) the Army's reliability measurement criterion is flawed because it does not measure the helicopters' ability to perform special operations missions; and (5) the Army plans to collect data to better measure project mission success, but it does not plan to use the data as the primary criteria for assessing the helicopters' reliability.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD does not agree with the recommendation and therefore has no intention of acting upon it. This is the second report in which GAO made this or similar recommendations and DOD has stated that it does not believe that Congress needs this information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander-in-Chief, USSOCOM, to develop life-cycle cost estimates for the MH-47E and MH-60k as required by DOD Instruction 5000.2 and provide these estimates to Congress, as well as life-cycle cost estimates for all future special operations procurements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army and DOD did not concur with the recommendation and have no intention of taking any action.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should establish mean time between mission affecting failure as the primary reliability criterion for releasing the helicopters for mission use and include all aircraft survivability equipment as essential equipment in assessing the helicopter's reliability.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army


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