Problems Affecting the Procurement and Operation of the Army's AH-64 Attack Helicopter and Associated Systems

Gao ID: C-MASAD-81-1 February 12, 1981

The Army's newest attack helicopter, the AH-64, will carry the new laser-guided HELLFIRE missile. A production decision for each is due late in calendar year 1981. In addition to these new acquisitions, the Army has plans to continue upgrading its current fleet of attack helicopters. It also plans to improve a different helicopter to support the attack helicopters in a scouting role.

Due to the steadily increasing cost of weapon systems and to budget constraints, the Army has determined that it cannot afford to buy or improve the full quantity of weapons it feels it needs to modernize its forces within the desired timeframes. Consequently, it is stretching out the procurement schedule of some weapons, an action which results in increased costs and is deferring others. The procurement for the AH-64 and the HELLFIRE is being stretched out. Some technical problems disclosed in development and testing of the AH-64 and HELLFIRE pose additional problems. These problems can degrade the helicopter's performance to a considerable degree unless they are corrected. Excessive weight is preventing the AH-64 from achieving its required vertical rate-of-climb requirement. Its target acquisition and designation sight is not meeting all of its requirements. The excessive vibration the helicopter is experiencing can cause pilot fatigue and can affect operating proficiency. HELLFIRE is experiencing an undesirable roll rate problem after it is launched from the AH-64 that makes it difficult to control the missile to the extent desired. GAO believes that an affirmative decision to proceed with the production of the AH-64 and HELLFIRE should await the successful resolution of the system's major technical problems and an assessment of its operational effectiveness. In addition, there are alternatives to stretching out the helicopter and missile procurement programs which might achieve the aerial antiarmor mission objectives more economically.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: No director on record Team: No team on record Phone: No phone on record

The Justia Government Accountability Office site republishes public reports retrieved from the U.S. GAO These reports should not be considered official, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Justia.