U.S. Participation in the United Kingdom's Development of JP-233--A Costly Deviation From Acquisition Policy

Gao ID: MASAD-81-17 February 27, 1981

A review was undertaken of the JP-233 Low-Altitude Airfield Attack System as part of an annual review of selected major weapon systems. The objective of the review was to examine U.S. participation in this United Kingdom development effort including how well the Department of Defense (DOD) had defined its requirements and assessed alternative solutions. The purpose of JP-233 was to reduce the sortie generation capability of Warsaw Pact Air Forces by damaging runways and other operating surfaces and impeding efforts to repair them. Initial participation by the United States began in August 1976 under the foreign weapons evaluation program. Joint definition and development efforts continued until December 1980 at which time the United States gave notice of its intent to terminate its involvement in the program's development.

GAO found that DOD participation in the JP-233 development did not follow the prescribed acquisition strategy which requires initial project definition and continued formal oversight at key decision points. DOD committed the United States to paying half the development cost of JP-233 without formal analyses of mission requirements, current capabilities, needs, and alternative solutions. As a result, the United States was formally committed to developing a weapon with an ally without the assurance that it would either accomplish the U.S. mission or that it was the best alternative. By December 1980, DOD had spent about $109 million and is now negotiating termination costs which may exceed $25 million.


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