The Light Airborne Multipurpose System, Lamps MK III, Progress Evident but Some Problems and Questions Remain

Gao ID: C-MASAD-81-4 February 23, 1981

GAO reviewed the newest antisubmarine helicopter weapon system being developed by the Navy, the Light Airborne Multipurpose System (LAMPS MK III). It is a computer-integrated ship and helicopter system designed principally for antisubmarine warfare (ASW) with secondary mission capabilities of antiship surveillance and targeting (ASST), search and rescue, medical evacuation, and logistics support. Currently, the program is in full-scale development and is scheduled for deployment aboard cruisers, destroyers, and frigates. The helicopter to be used is the SH-60B Seahawk.

Potential problems were found which raise questions about the ability of LAMPS MK III to carry out both its ASW and ASST missions. In performing its ASW role, LAMPS MK III is dependent on other systems. Therefore, its effectiveness is contingent on the performance of those systems. Some of these systems were delayed in development or have known performance limitations. The weight of one of these systems may be of concern because of its effect on the range and endurance of the LAMPS MK III helicopter. Studies have shown that the Navy is not planning to buy enough Seahawks to meet projected requirements. GAO believes that this results in significantly understating the total cost of an effective program. While early flight and equipment testing of the helicopter system are proceeding well, problems in reliability and maintainability exist which are of developmental concern. At congressional direction, the ASST mission of the LAMPS MK III was reduced from a primary to a secondary mission as a cost savings measure. The resultant decrease in hardware capabilities reduces LAMPS MK III capability to carry out this mission. LAMPS MK III helicopters suffer from equipment limitations and could be vulnerable when performing the ASST mission. From September 1979 to September 1980, LAMPS MK III program costs have increased by 50 percent. Further cost increases are likely due to changes in helicopter procurement plans which would raise the unit cost of the Seahawk. New data indicate that the total program costs will increase by $1.6 billion.


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