U.S. Army officials have justified the number of operational AH-64E gunships it will buy, but not the 167 Apaches the service says it needs for test and training at a price tag of $3.5 billion, according to the Pentagon's spending watchdog.
In an audit report of the Apache program published Monday, the U.S. Defense Department Inspector General found the Army’s acquisition objective for operational Apaches was warranted.
The current AH-64E Apache Remanufacture Acquisition Program Baseline procurement objective and Army Acquisition Objective (AAO) is 634 aircraft. The total AH-64E (remanufacture and new build) AAO is 690.
Officials with the Army G-8, in charge of resourcing, and G-3/5/7, which manages training operations, “justified planned procurement quantities of the AH-64Es designated for regular Army and Army National Guard operational fleets,” the report said.
But officials could not justify the planned procurement of 85 training, 67 float, and 15 test AH-64Es, it says. Float helicopters are used as temporary replacements when aircraft need maintenance, modification, or repair.
“This occurred because … officials did not conduct the analyses required by DOD and Army guidance to determine the necessary training, float, and test quantities before the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, G-8, approved the Army Acquisition Objective on June 15, 2017,” the report said. “As a result, G-8 officials cannot ensure that 167 AH-64Es for training, float, and test, valued at $3.5 billion, will meet the needs of the Army.”
Resourcing officials also have “no assurance” the Army can afford the number of non-operational Apaches it wants to buy. The G-8 upped its original plan from 167 aircraft to 188 (100 for training, 81 for float, and 7 for test) May 14, according to the audit.
“If too many AH-64Es are procured, the Army could be wasting DOD funds that could be put to better use,” the report said. “If too few AH-64Es are procured, the Army may not be able to train enough pilots to meet Army operational needs, provide replacements for AH-64Es that cannot be repaired in time to meet readiness objectives, or test and evaluate other weapon systems that are added to the AH-64E.”
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James McConville, responding on behalf of the offices in charge of developing the AAO, said the service has conducted a review of AAO regulations and policies and has updated the methodology to determine the number of aircraft it needs. The Army also has developed simplified demand-based formulas for training and float aircraft and determined a baseline quantity of AH-64Es required to support the test fleet, which will be adjusted during the annual revalidation of the AAO, according to the IG Audit.