Defense AcquisitionsReduced Threat Not Reflected in Antiarmor Weapon Acquisitions Gao ID: NSIAD-99-105 July 22, 1999
Congress has raised concerns about the military's lingering Cold War mindset, which has promoted the purchase of increasing numbers of tank-killing weapons despite the fact that potential adversaries have dwindling numbers of armored forces. During the Cold War, the military braced for a massive land attack spearheaded by thousands of armored vehicles in Central Europe. Today, military planners generally envision smaller regional conflicts when developing war-fighting plans and requirements. The number of potential enemy armored targets that U.S. forces expect to confront has fallen considerably since 1990. Yet, the overall size of the Defense Department's (DOD) current antiarmor weapons inventory is about the same as during the Cold War, and inventories of the most sophisticated and lethal antiarmor weapons have actually increased. There are now 35 different kinds of antiarmor weapons in the inventory and 10 other types in production. The military continues to invest in antiarmor weapons and plans to increase its funding.
GAO noted that: (1) the number of potential enemy armored targets U.S. forces expect to face has decreased considerably since 1990; (2) during the Cold War, the services considered the greatest threat to be a massive land attack spearheaded by thousands of armored vehicles in Central Europe; (3) today's conditions, however, are significantly different, and military planners consider smaller regional conflicts as the threat basis when developing war-fighting plans and requirements; (4) according to the Defense Intelligence Agency's latest biannual Outyear Threat Report, issued in 1997, the number of armored targets is less than 20 percent of the number considered in 1990; (5) the overall size of DOD's antiarmor weapons inventory is approximately the same as during the Cold War, and inventories of the more sophisticated and lethal antiarmor weapons have actually increased; (6) there are 35 different types of antiarmor weapons in the inventory and 10 other types in production; (7) while today's inventory weapons have similar capabilities to those in the 1990 inventory, the 10 new weapons are expected to provide improved targeting, lethality, and survivability capabilities developed in response to the anticipated future tank threat; (8) the services continue to invest in antiarmor weapons and are planning funding increases; (9) they estimate they will spend $11.1 billion in total procurement funding to acquire the 10 antiarmor weapons in production, which includes $4.2 billion for fiscal years 2000 through 2003; (10) in addition, DOD is developing 9 new antiarmor weapons at an estimated cost of $3.5 billion; (11) the procurement costs for six of the nine new programs have not yet been determined, but the remaining three have an estimated procurement cost of about $4.7 billion; and (12) plans to acquire large quantities of new and improved antiarmor weapons do not appear consistent with the reduced size of the armored threat and the existing large and capable inventory of antiarmor weapons.