Logistics Planning for the M1 Tank

Gao ID: 115863 July 21, 1981

The pressures to attain specific performance goals such as survivability, speed, range, and fire power within timeframe and acquisition cost restraints led Army management to give inadequate consideration to the development of M1 logistics support and long-term ownership costs. As a result, the development of logistics support lags behind the tank's development. This is critical because current M1 program milestones call for decisions this September on whether to authorize full production and whether to field the M1 in Europe. GAO believes that great care should be exercised in reaching the decision to field the tank at that time, because tank support problems already existing in Europe with the M60's could become exacerbated by premature fielding of the M1. Not only has M1 logistics support development lagged behind the tank's development, but the scheduled completion dates for various support needs are still several years away. While the supportability and fielding issues are paramount, there are also some opportunities for the Department of Defense (DOD) to reduce M1 support costs. Because of the emphasis on design-to-unit-cost criteria and the lack of attention to logistics development early in the M1 program, many potential life-cycle cost reductions are no longer available. However, DOD can still achieve some savings by implementing some M1 equipment design and logistics support alternatives which could reduce costs without affecting readiness. The Army is now identifying areas where reliability and maintainability improvements are needed and is establishing programs to accomplish these improvements. However, increased funds will be required to fully realize the potential M1 life-cycle cost reductions. Because the needed data were not available, the Army was generally unable to use standard systems for determining initial requirements for M1 spare and repair parts. Further, because of continuous engineering design and tank production changes, many of the spare parts procured may become obsolete before they are needed. GAO believes that the Army's plan to buy 348 M1 tanks for training at a cost of $887 million seems excessive, given the low use being made of training M60's on which M1 training needs were based and the potential use of training devices which could substitute for M1's.

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