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11 Weapons Projects Hit as Deficient : Defense Dept. Faults B-1B Bomber, Tank, Mine-Hunting Copter

From United Press International

At least 11 military programs, including the Air Force’s B-1B strategic bomber and the Army’s M1 Abrams tank, have problems that need correcting, a Defense Department report showed today.

The most criticism was leveled at the Marine Corps’ MH-53E Sea Dragon mine-hunting helicopter, which, the report said, is unsuitable for its mission.

197 Programs Studied

The Pentagon’s operational, test and evaluation directorate studied 197 military weapon programs last year and sent an unclassified version of its evaluation report to Congress on April 6.

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A copy obtained today showed that a majority of the evaluated programs were found to have no major deficiencies.

The report cited the MH-53E Sea Dragon, a modified version of the Navy’s CH-53E Super Stallion transport helicopter, with having a host of problems, including an inability to navigate precisely and excessive noise levels in the cockpit that affected communications.

In addition, the report said six major safety deficiencies were found that presented hazards to the crew and equipment of the Sea Dragons, which tow anti-mine sleds in the water and were recently used in the Persian Gulf to clear Iranian mines.

“Significant problems, some of which require long-term solutions, in reliability, maintainability, compatibility, interoperability, safety and human factors, resulted in the MH-53E being not operationally suitable,” wrote John Krings, director of the office that conducted the report.

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Regarding the M1 Abrams battle tank, the report said that “continuing problems were encountered in maintenance and logistical support” and that recovery and transport of the 64-ton vehicle were “severely challenged by the weight” of the tank.

The report said that while the $258-million B-1B bomber “continues to make steady progress toward meeting its operational goals,” the “lack of fully developed, operationally tested electronic warfare and tail warning function capabilities are significant deficiencies.”

Most of the others cited for deficiencies were more mundane programs, such as the National Security Agency’s secure telephone unit.

The report refused to support full-rate production of the Bigeye chemical bomb before further operational testing.

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