Defense Acquisitions

Naval Surface Fire Support Program Plans and Costs Gao ID: NSIAD-99-91 June 11, 1999

Since 1994, the Navy has been working on a two-phase research and development program to address shortfalls in its naval surface fire support capabilities. GAO has already reported on the Navy's compliance with legislation directing it to retain two Iowa class battleships and their logistical support infrastructure. (See GAO/NSIAD-99-62, Apr. 1999.) This report describes the Navy's effort to modernize its naval surface fire support capabilities and identifies the cost of the modernization. An upcoming report will analyze the Navy's assessment of the costs associated with alternative ways to carry out the naval surface fire-support mission, including reactivating two battleships.

GAO noted that: (1) in the first phase of the NSFS modernization program, planned for completion by 2009, the Navy plans to develop a modified 5-inch gun and associated guided munition, land-attack missiles, and mission planning system for installation on 49 of the current classes of cruisers and destroyers; (2) the weapons developed during this phase are not expected to satisfy the full range of Marine Corps NSFS requirements; (3) development of the modified 5-inch gun is on schedule, but development costs have increased slightly; (4) development of the guided munition for this gun has been delayed by technical problems, and costs have increased; (5) it is too early to know whether the munition will meet performance specifications in terms of range, accuracy, and lethality; (6) the Chief of Naval Operations has decided to modify missiles in the Navy's inventory into a land-attack variant rather than develop a Navy variant of an Army missile; (7) the Navy expects fleet introduction of a mission planning system in 2001 to support weapons developed during the first phase of the NSFS modernization program; (8) the second phase of the modernization program, beyond 2003, includes development of a longer-range gun and munition and an advanced land-attack missile for the planned DD-21 class of destroyers; (9) weapons developed during this phase are intended to fully meet Marine Corps NSFS requirements; (10) the Center for Naval Analyses is conducting an analysis of gun system alternatives for the DD-21, and industry teams are also developing advanced gun concepts for this class of ship; (11) the Navy is conducting technology demonstration projects intended to improve performance and reduce the costs of future munitions; (12) under the Navy's plan, it will be many years before the fleet will have these weapon systems in the quantities needed to support major combat operations; (13) the Navy plans to accept delivery of 32 DD-21s between 2008 and 2020; (14) in fiscal years (FY) 1994-1998, the Navy spent $309 million on both phases of its modernization program; (15) for fiscal years 1999-2005, both phases are estimated to cost a total of about $2 billion; (16) the estimate does not include the cost of: (a) integrating land attack standard missiles into the vertical launch system; (b) changing to the Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System; and (c) developing and procuring of an advanced land-attack missile for the DD-21; and (17) total program cost estimates beyond FY 2005 are not available.

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