Some Land Attack Cruise Missile Acquisition Programs Need To Be Slowed Down

Gao ID: C-MASAD-81-9 February 28, 1981

Cruise missiles are subsonic, jet-powered airframes that are being acquired to deliver nuclear or conventional warheads against a variety of targets. GAO reviewed some major areas of concern with regard to matters which affect the acquisition and deployment of these missiles.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense has placed the highest national priority on deployment of the Air-Launched Cruise Missile system in order to preclude shortfalls in strategic weapons in the 1980's. Accordingly, a rigorous, success-oriented, highly concurrent schedule was established. Production of the missile was authorized, even though a number of critical problems remained to be resolved. Specifically: (1) operational testing completed before the production decision revealed that mission reliability of the system was deficient and that it failed to demonstrate important missile performance features; (2) the testing that had been done was not operationally realistic; (3) engine reliability was still a matter of serious concern; (4) certain components which were essential to the system's performance have not been available for operational testing; (5) a critical measurement program was about a year behind schedule; and (6) errors were found in the terrain elevation database. The Navy plans to request authority to begin full-scale production of the first tactical land attack cruise missile system. Major problems have to be resolved before that time including: (1) cruise missiles probably will not be sufficiently accurate to deliver conventional warheads; (2) because of exposure to enemy defensive systems, it is doubtful that the missiles will survive when delivering certain nonnuclear warheads; and (3) no statement of mission need has been prepared to support acquisition of the Tomahawk or Medium Range Air-to-Surface Missiles.


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Director: Harry R. Finley Team: General Accounting Office: Mission Analysis and Systems Acquisition Division Phone: (202) 512-5187

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