The military's ability to carry out its mission depends on its having adequate supplies of spare parts on hand for maintenance and repairs. Shortages are a key indicator that the billions of dollars being spent on these parts are not being used effectively, efficiently, and economically. Despite additional funding from Congress, the Army still has concerns about spare parts shortages. Spare parts shortages for the Apache, Blackhawk, and Chinook helicopters have harmed operations and lowered morale among maintenance personnel. Cannibalization of parts from one aircraft to another is an inefficient practice that results in double work for the maintenance personnel, masks parts shortages, and lowers morale. Parts were unavailable for various reasons, including higher-than-expected demand for parts, delays in obtaining parts from contractors, and problems with overhaul and maintenance. Another factor contributing to the shortage was the Army's inability to obtain parts for these aging aircraft from the original manufacturers, which sometimes had gone out of business. The Army and the Defense Logistics Agency have efforts planned or underway to improve the availability of aviation spare parts. Once these initiatives are further along, GAO will review them to determine whether they can be enhanced.
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