Late Fire Control System Deliveries for Army's M60A3 Tanks Jeopardize Combat Readiness Improvements
GAO reviewed the impact of late deliveries of fire control systems on the Army's M60A3 tank production and conversion program. Late deliveries have delayed improvements in the combat readiness of U.S. forces, caused the Army to store hundreds of tanks at additional costs, and reduced the work load of Army depots, especially Anniston Army depot. The Army has taken actions to minimize the impact of delivery problems. It produces new tanks according to schedule and stores them, to the extent necessary, until the fire control systems become available. Also, it delayed the start of the M60A3 conversion program at the depots and substituted another conversion program in its place. Some uncertainty on future deliveries of fire control systems still remains. If deliveries are to be delayed further, Army depots could experience further decreases in their work loads. In allocating future fire control systems, the Army gave foreign governments a higher priority than it did to its own depot conversion program. This was done to preserve the Army's production base and allow the Army to retain two fire control system producers. However, the higher priority given to foreign sales, coupled with late deliveries, resulted in delaying the start of the depot conversion program by about 15 months. To minimize the impact of such work load decreases, the Army could consider giving higher priority to the M60A3 depot conversion program than to deliveries of new tanks to foreign governments or providing foreign governments with an earlier version of the M60 tank series. Both options require renegotiation of the foreign sales agreements. Congress should obtain the views of the Department of Defense and the Army concerning the impact of the M60A3 tank sales to foreign governments on the combat readiness of the U.S. forces and the short- and long-term impact on Army work loads and the feasibility of: (1) delaying the delivery of the M60A3 tanks to foreign governments until sufficient fire control systems are available to satisfy the depot conversion program; and (2) furnishing foreign governments with earlier versions of the M60 tank series.