"The Army plans to begin weapon systems development at a lower level of maturity than what is recommended by leading practices," the report said. "GAO has raised concerns about this type of practice for almost two decades for other Army acquisitions, because proceeding into weapon systems development at earlier stages of technology maturity raises the risk that the resulting systems could experience cost increases, delivery delays, or failure to deliver desired capabilities."
In 2018, the Army established a Futures Command, which prioritized technological leaps in areas such as long-range precision weapons, next-generation combat vehicles and a futuristic vertical lift capability, the report noted. The effort began with $1 billion in science and technology funding to support modernization efforts, with about $7.5 billion expected to be spent over the next 5 years.
The report also questioned whether the Army has learned the lessons from its last attempt to modernize, $21 billion spent on a proposed Future Combat System from 2003 to 2009. The program envisioned a brigade-level unit of self-driving tanks and other combat vehicles but was cancelled for excessive costs and failure to develop new capabilities.
The GAO report made four recommendations, including that the Army begin testing new technologies in an operational environment before attempting to design and build new weapons systems.