Army's Apache Helicopter Has Proven Difficult to Support

Gao ID: T-NSIAD-90-33 April 19, 1990

GAO discussed the performance of the Army's AH-64 Apache helicopter, focusing on the helicopter's availability, Army procurement practices, and helicopter maintenance and upgrade plans. GAO noted that: (1) the Army planned to procure 271 Apaches in addition to its initial planned procurement of 536 helicopters, at a total cost of nearly $12 billion; (2) the Army developed its Longbow Program to equip 227 Apaches with a targeting radar to work with the HELLFIRE missile, at a cost of $3.4 billion; (3) the Apache's fully mission-capable rate averaged 49 percent for 1989; (4) fully mission-capable rates decreased as units aged and accumulated flight hours; (5) frequent failures of key components and high demands for maintenance and parts were major contributors to the low availability rates; (6) there were not enough replacement parts, maintenance personnel, or maintenance equipment to keep up with the maintenance burden, and the Army heavily relied on contractors to alleviate the burden; (7) Apache logistics support problems were attributable to such problems as failure to address numerous required design changes before production, focus on high production rates, omission of a low-rate production phase and follow-on operational testing, staffing constraints, and unrealistic estimates of reliability and maintainability requirements; (8) logistics support problems were likely to increase under more demanding sustained combat conditions; and (9) the Army formed an Apache Action Team to coordinate several Army components' and contractors' corrective action efforts.


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