Transportation:

Critical Considerations in Developing Improved Capability To Identify Aircraft as Friend or Foe

C-MASAD-82-6: Published: Feb 24, 1982. Publicly Released: Feb 24, 1982.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Donald E. Day
(202) 275-8408
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

GAO reviewed the Department of Defense programs designed to improve U.S. capabilities to identify aircraft as friend or foe. These programs, for which Congress will be asked to provide funds, could potentially involve significant expenditures.

GAO found that the primary systems in use by the United States and some other forces in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are the Mark X and XII cooperative systems. U.S. capability to identify aircraft is limited. Consequently, missiles capable of attacking targets beyond visual range cannot be used to their full potential. Aircraft frequently have to close within visual range to positively identify air targets, and the launch aircraft are rendered more vulnerable to enemy fire. Better identification would permit relaxing restrictive rules of engagement which have been instituted to minimize the risks of mistakenly attacking friendly aircraft. Currently, there are plans to improve the Mark XII. Also under consideration is the development of the next generation identification system, the Mark XV. There are several matters to resolve, the principal one being the frequency band in which the Mark XV should operate. Other NATO countries have been unable to agree on a common frequency band. Besides the Mark XV, certain other technologies appear to have the potential of contributing to the overall improvement of U.S. identification capability. However, several of these technologies are in the early stages of development and have not been tested to determine their performance. The total investment in identification systems is difficult to calculate, because several are in early stages of development and cost are spread over numerous accounts.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This matter should be resolved in a followup review.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should determine the priority that the Mark XV interoperability with the other identification systems in NATO should have relative to the other factors to be considered in selecting the frequency allocation band in which the Mark XV is to operate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This matter should be covered in a followup review.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should make the amount to be invested in Mark XII improvements contingent on how soon the Mark XV can reasonably be expected to become available.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 26, 2014

Sep 25, 2014

Sep 23, 2014

Sep 12, 2014

Jul 31, 2014

Jul 23, 2014

Jun 25, 2014

Jun 24, 2014

Looking for more? Browse all our products here