Comanche Helicopter:

Testing Needs to Be Completed Prior to Production Decisions

NSIAD-95-112: Published: May 18, 1995. Publicly Released: May 18, 1995.

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GAO reviewed the Army's Comanche helicopter program, focusing on cost and technical issues associated with the restructured program.

GAO found that: (1) the past risks associated with the Comanche's development and production will continue under the Army's restructured program; (2) production decisions will be made before operational testing of the Comanche begins and the development phase will be extended beyond fiscal year 2002; (3) the acquisition of six additional aircraft will allow the Army to conduct operational testing before committing funds to any further production decisions; (4) the Comanche's unit costs have tripled in the last 10 years due to program restructuring and a 74-percent decrease in procurement quantities; (5) the Comanche may not meet its wartime availability and operating cost requirements due to technical problems; and (6) the Comanche program is currently meeting its maintenance requirements and weight growth limits.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD nonconcurred with the recommendation. DOD contends that the Army test plan includes operational assessments that will be based on interim operational test events to support the long-lead and low-rate initial production decisions. In addition, an initial operational test and evaluation will be conducted prior to the full-rate production decision.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Army to complete operational testing to validate the Comanche's operational effectiveness and suitability before committing any funds to acquire long-lead production items or enter low-rate initial production.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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