Army Acquisition:

Longbow Hellfire Missile Procurement Quantities Significantly Overstated

NSIAD-97-93: Published: May 14, 1997. Publicly Released: May 14, 1997.

Additional Materials:


Louis J. Rodrigues
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GAO reviewed the Army's Longbow Hellfire missile program, focusing on whether the: (1) Army had adequately justified the requirement and quantities of the missile; and (2) missile had successfully demonstrated its requirements during the initial operational testing and evaluation.

GAO noted that: (1) the Apache Longbow weapon system, which includes the Longbow Hellfire missile, completed initial operational test and evaluation in March 1995; (2) the tests concluded that the system was operationally effective and suitable; (3) however, the Army's current Longbow Hellfire missile requirement of 12,722 may be overstated by over 8,300 missiles; (4) the Army made computational errors and a questionable assumption in calculating missile requirements that resulted in a potential overstatement of 7,145 missiles; (5) in addition, test results indicate that the missile quantity could be reduced by another 1,184 missiles; (6) moreover, significant cost reductions can be achieved with lower missile quantities; (7) while cost estimates for an 8,300-missile quantity reduction are not yet available, the Office of the Secretary of Defense estimates that up to $500 million in program cost savings can be achieved by reducing quantities by approximately 4,000 units; (8) the Army's method of computing the quantities contains three critical errors; (9) the Army used an outdated helicopter carrying capability of 16 missiles instead of the current 12, double counted missiles when figuring the residual readiness portion of the requirement, and used an unsubstantiated mix ratio between the Longbow Hellfire and Hellfire II missiles; (10) correcting these mistakes would potentially reduce the current 12,722-missile requirement for Longbow Hellfire missiles by 7,145 missiles; (11) in addition, the Army Materiel System Analysis Activity's independent evaluation of the Apache Longbow weapon system disclosed that the Apache Longbow system's weight needs to be reduced by almost 600 pounds to achieve its vertical rate of climb specification; (12) according to Army data, the system's current demonstrated capability is calculated using 8 missiles instead of 12; and (13) if the Army lowers its missile carrying capability to 8 to meet the Apache Longbow system weight limitation, this would further reduce the missile requirement by 1,184.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Citing GAO's report, the Congress reduced the Army's fiscal year 1998 procurement request for Hellfire missiles by $20 million.

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider limiting the fiscal year 1998 procurement quantities request to fiscal year 1997 production levels until the Secretary of the Army recalculates the required quantities of Longbow Hellfire and Hellfire II missiles and updates the acquisition strategy for these missiles.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army reviewed the Hellfire quantity mix and concluded that the total requirement could be reduced by 47 units, or about 0.4 percent.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to reduce Longbow Hellfire missile procurement requirements to reflect the current information on the number of missiles that the Apache can carry, the correct residual readiness computational procedures, and the appropriate Hellfire II to Longbow Hellfire mix ratio.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A revised Hellfire procurement strategy was reflected in the fiscal year 1999 President's budget submission to Congress. It showed a very small reduction in overall procurement quantity but a reduction of 300 missiles for fiscal year 1999.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to prepare a new procurement strategy that reflects the reduced requirement and recomputed expected cost.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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