Army Armored Systems:

Meeting Crusader Requirements Will Be a Technical Challenge

NSIAD-97-121: Published: Jun 6, 1997. Publicly Released: Jun 6, 1997.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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Office of Public Affairs
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GAO reviewed selected aspects of the Army's Crusader program to determine: (1) the status of the program; and (2) whether there are any alternative howitzer systems that could meet the Crusader requirements.

GAO noted that: (1) the Army believes that the Crusader system, using advanced technologies, has the potential to revolutionize field artillery operations; (2) according to Army analyses, the system could increase force effectiveness, in terms of rounds fired, missions completed, and enemy systems destroyed and reduce U.S. losses, up to 52 percent; (3) however, developing and integrating the Crusader system to meet all the Army's requirements will be technically challenging because it depends heavily upon the accomplishment of many technological firsts for U.S. field artillery systems; (4) these include the automated ammunition loading and handling system, automated ammunition and fuel transfer system, and actively cooled cannon barrel; (5) not meeting some requirements could have an adverse effect on system potential; (6) for example, the system needs to achieve a 10-rounds-per-minute firing rate because the Army's force effectiveness analyses showed that an eight-round rate would cause the U.S. force to lose in some battlefield scenarios; (7) also, as currently designed, some subsystems have no backup capabilities, therefore, if the system does not meet its reliability requirement, it may not be able to perform its mission; (8) for example, the Crusader's autoloader has no backup; (9) if the autoloader fails, the Crusader howitzer will be unable to fire because the cannon cannot be hand loaded; (10) in response to funding reductions, the Army is making critical program scheduling decisions that will compress the program's schedule beyond its already-compressed schedule under the streamlined acquisition process; (11) in the past, such schedule adjustments have resulted in reduced testing and/or concurrent testing, allowing programs to enter low-rate initial production before they were ready; (12) allowing programs to enter low-rate initial production before they were ready has often resulted in procurement of substantial inventories of unsatisfactory weapon systems which required costly modifications or, in some cases, substandard weapon systems being procured for combat forces; (13) no existing alternative artillery system meets all of the Army's projected artillery requirements; and (14) however, if the Crusader cannot meet its requirements, other artillery systems, such as an improved Paladin or the German PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer, may provide an alternative to improve the Army's current artillery capabilities.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As a result of the Army's recent changes to lighten the Crusader system, DOD has questioned whether the Crusader is the appropriate platform for the Army's indirect fire mission. The Army is performing an Analysis of Alternatives to determine whether an alternative artillery system may be a better way of improving the Army's artillery capabilities.

    Recommendation: To minimize the risk of prematurely entering production, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to establish criteria specifying, at a minimum, that the Crusader system demonstrate that it meets all key requirements and is on schedule for meeting its reliability requirement before entering low-rate initial production and is operationally effective and suitable before entering full-rate production. If, at either point, the Crusader system does not demonstrate that it meets its requirements, then the Secretary of the Army should determine whether an alternative artillery system may be a better way to improve the Army's artillery capabilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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