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Highlights

GAO reviewed the M1 tank acquisition program after it had reached the purchasing stage. The M1 system represents the Army's most costly new weapons system; the course the Army follows in acquiring the M1 will have a significant effect on its budget. The M1 has recorded numerous difficulties during its planning and testing phases resulting in production delays; generally, problems were related to the engine and the transmission. A panel of experts convened by the Department of Defense, just prior to the purchasing phase, believes the M1 will show substantial improvement provided certain modifications to the functional operations of the tank are incorporated.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Congress should consider conditioning future appropriations for large production of the M1 on the power train meeting the Army's durability requirement.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress supports large-scale production of the tank to meet defense needs as quickly as possible.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Army, if the requirement has not been met, to compare the performance and durability of the turbine and diesel engines as demonstrated in testing and to prepare an analysis of the two engines.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Army has no serious interest in a diesel engine for the M1 tank and Congress has shown no further interest in pressing the Army to pursue it as an alternative for the turbine engine.
Department of Defense 2. The Secretary of Defense should evaluate the Army's analysis and select one of the two engines for incorporation in the balance of the production run.
Closed - Not Implemented
Neither the Secretary of Defense nor Congress are interested in changing from the turbine engine.
Department of Defense 3. The Secretary of Defense should provide the key congressional committees with an assessment of the power train's capability and with an estimate of funds that may still be needed for improvement to elicit, from whichever engine is selected, the type of performance that would enable the power train to meet the durability requirement.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Army is using available funds to make the assessment and does not plan additional funding requests for this purpose.
Department of Defense 4. The Secretary of Defense should evaluate the results of the turbine engine's testing in production model tanks, scheduled for 1982, to determine whether the engine has improved sufficiently to raise the power train's durability to a level that meets or exceeds the Army's requirement.
Closed - Not Implemented
Tests were suspended after a short period because the engines being tested developed serious cracks and the tanks could not run. The Army attributes the cracking to a quality control problem. There is no evidence that the Army plans to halt production of the engine in spite of its problems nor has any recent interest been evinced by Congress in halting tank production.

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