Aviation Requirements. DoD Should Reassess the Marine Corps' Helicopter Modernization Decision.
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL A FFAIRS DIV
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The General Accounting Office GAO has completed a review of the Department of Defenses efforts to reduce the types and numbers of helicopters in its inventories. GAOs objective was to determine whether the services are taking advantage of opportunities to increase commonality of helicopters within DOD. Generally, GAO found the services are taking action to reduce numbers and types of helicopters. The purpose of this research is to convey GAOs concern about the Marine Corps plans to modernize its fleet of UH-1 Huey helicopters. In recent years, DOD has encouraged the services to use more of the same types of aircraft. According to DOD officials, greater commonality should result in infrastructure savings in areas such as training and program management In keeping with DODs goal for greater commonality, Navy officials informed us that the Navy plans to replace its aging logistical support helicopter fleet with a derivative of the Armys Blackhawk. This derivative is similar to helicopters already in the Navys fleet. The Air Force plans to piggyback on other services procurements of Blackhawk derivatives. The Marine Corps, on the other hand, evaluated buying a Blackhawk helicopter derivative but has decided instead to upgrade approximately 100 of its Huey utility helicopters at a total program cost of 975 million, or about 9.8 million per upgrade. Active and reserve Marine Corps squadrons currently use the Huey utility helicopter to provide, among other things, airborne control and coordination, aeromedical evacuation, and search and rescue. Mthough the lluey has been used by the Marine Corps for over 20 years and is nearing the end of its useful life, the Marine Corps believes it must keep its Huey utility helicopter fleet viable until the 2020 time frame, when ajoint utility aircraft replacement program is anticipated.
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