Weapons Systems

Status of the Army's Light Helicopter Family Program Gao ID: NSIAD-87-117FS March 13, 1987

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's Light Helicopter Family (LHX) Program. The Army is developing two LHX versions to replace its aging light helicopter fleet.

GAO found that the Army: (1) is developing a single-seat LHX version for attack and armed reconnaissance missions and a two-seat version to serve in a utility role; (2) currently estimates that LHX will cost about $8.6 million per unit; (3) will need additional funds to procure LHX at its planned rate; and (4) intends to obtain independent cost estimates before it renders a full-scale development decision. In addition, GAO found that: (1) since the Army is not certain whether it is feasible for one pilot to fly the aircraft and operate the weapons targeting systems, it is including a two-seat attack version in the development program; (2) other areas where the Army has lowered its performance expectations include the visual displays, digital map, automatic hover-hold, and aircraft survivability equipment; (3) alternatives to developing LHX include improving the Army's existing light helicopters and developing a tilt-rotor aircraft; and (4) while improving existing helicopters would be less costly, none of the modification alternatives would meet the same performance requirements as LHX.

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