Measuring the Value of Renewal

Age, Operational Tempo, Deployment, and Reset Effects on the Readiness and Maintenance Costs of Army Vehicles

by Lisa Pelled Colabella, Aimee Bower, Lionel A. Galway, Ellen M. Pint, Jason Eng

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Research Questions

  1. What is the value to the Army of its vehicle reset program?
  2. How do vehicle age, usage, deployment location, and reset affect both equipment readiness and field maintenance costs?

Because of aging fleets, high operational tempos (OPTEMPO), and harsh operating conditions in Southwest Asia (SWA), equipment renewal is currently an Army imperative. Recent Army expenditures for reset (return to combat-ready condition), overhaul, and recapitalization have been on the order of $10 billion per year. Although anecdotal reports suggest that the reset program has been valuable, there is still a need for quantitative analyses to measure its effects and inform decisions about when and how often a vehicle should be renewed. This study assesses the effects of vehicle age, OPTEMPO, SWA deployment, and reset on mission-critical failures and maintenance costs. Findings suggest that renewal reduces a vehicle's mission-critical failures and maintenance costs by up to 50 percent per year, with the result that reset of heavy combat vehicles becomes cost-effective after four years. Additionally, OPTEMPO and location (not necessarily deployment) may be more important criteria than age when selecting vehicles for reset. The results of this study have implications for reset planning and funding decisions.

Key Findings

The Effect of Age

  • Age increased mission-critical failures very slightly and only up to a point.
  • Data on vehicle age did not capture the age of vehicle components — the component replacement history. Some older vehicles may have newer components, and therefore fewer failures, than some younger vehicles.

The Effect of Location

  • Heavy combat vehicle location clearly affected failures and costs.
  • Even so, some CONUS locations were associated with higher expected failure counts and costs than Iraq.

The Effect of Usage

  • For the heavy combat vehicles studied (Bradley and Abrams), usage had stronger effects than age, and power train and electrical systems were among the key drivers of those usage effects.

The Effect of Reset

  • Both Bradley and Abrams reset reduced predicted annual mission-critical failures and maintenance costs by as much as 50 percent.
  • The net present value of maintenance savings versus reset cost indicated that, for vehicles driven 1,000 miles per year, both Bradley and Abrams reset became cost-effective after four years.
  • More frequent reset could be appropriate if justified by readiness gains; if the vehicle reset cost decreases; or if vehicles have higher usage.

Recommendations

  • National reset yields substantial readiness benefits and maintenance cost savings for heavy combat vehicles, and funding of such programs is a sound investment.
  • A vehicle's original manufacture date merits consideration when developing reset plans for ground systems, but should not be the sole or even a key criterion for inducting vehicles into the program.
  • A combination of vehicle attributes should be used to help identify suitable candidates for reset. The relatively strong effect of usage and location (not necessarily deployment) in this study support including those attributes among key reset selection criteria.
  • The ARFORGEN plan to reset active component vehicles every three years warrants reconsideration. Over time, once the reset program has a longer history, it would be worthwhile to assess the effects of multiple resets on the same vehicle.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Background and Purpose

  • Chapter Two

    Method

  • Chapter Three

    Findings

  • Chapter Four

    Discussion and Implications

  • Appendix

    Sample Profiles

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center.

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