GAO report: Army review found sustainment cost increases in Chinook, GMLRS over 17 years

By Dan Schere / March 31, 2023 at 1:33 PM

The Army found that the operation and support costs for the CH-47F Block I Chinook helicopter increased nearly 27% from 2004 to 2021 and the costs for the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System increased 136% from 2007 to 2021, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

Congress included a provision in the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that requires each military service to conduct sustainment reviews for major weapon systems within five years of declaring initial operational capability. The FY-21 NDAA amended the provision to require that the secretary of each military branch provide sustainment reviews for weapon systems to the congressional defense committees.

The Army conducted reviews of the CH-47 Block I, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected MAXX Pro, Bradley Fighting Vehicle and GMLRS, and found there was “critical” O&S cost for the Chinook and GMLRS.

“Critical” is defined either as O&S cost growth at least 25% more than the most recent cost estimate of a system, or at least 50% more than the original baseline cost estimate of the system, according to the report.

The CH-47 Block I O&S cost increased from $16.2 billion in 2004 to $20.6 billion in 2021, the review found. The increased costs were largely due to the fleet of aircraft increasing by 31 over the 17 years, and because of installation and maintenance costs of the Common Avionics Architecture System, or digital cockpit.

GMLRS O&S costs increased from $160.7 million in 2007 to $379.2 million in 2021, according to the review. The Army attributed the boost to an increase in the number of rockets from 44,000 to 118,000, and an upgrade to the steel casing on the original rocket that did not meet safety requirements.

The GAO report, released Thursday, was submitted to both the House and Senate Armed Services committees, as well as House and Senate Appropriations defense subcommittees.