DOD Should Defer Buying New TACAN Equipment and Evaluate Other Alternatives

MASAD-82-6: Published: Nov 12, 1981. Publicly Released: Nov 12, 1981.

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GAO completed a followup review to a 1978 report on navigation planning. The report concluded that, because the Department of Defense (DOD) planned to replace the Tactical Air Navigation System (TACAN) with the NAVSTAR/Global Positioning System (GPS), expenditures to modernize and buy new TACAN equipment were questionable. The report also pointed out that interim fielding of new TACAN equipment could result in unnecessary expenditures and duplication and that, to maximize the GPS cost effectiveness, DOD should avoid buying new equipment that GPS could replace. Despite this, the Navy and the Air Force plan to spend approximately $49 million in the next 4 years on additional replacement TACAN equipment.

According to both the Navy and the Air Force, certain existing TACAN equipment cannot provide reliable service until TACAN is phased out. As a result, the $49 million expenditure is necessary for new equipment. GAO believes that lower cost alternatives exist which can provide adequate navigation until TACAN is phased out. The Navy and the Air Force have not specifically identified and measured the impact of these alternatives on tactical air navigation and, consequently, cannot adequately weigh such an impact against the resulting cost savings. GAO concluded that proceeding with the replacement of TACAN equipment without adequately evaluating all alternatives could result in unnecessary expenditures and duplication.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Air Force and Navy to work closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to obtain those critical spare parts necessary for continued TACAN operation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Air Force to terminate actions to buy and install new replacement TACAN receivers for the C-5A aircraft.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Air Force and Navy to determine to what extent the FAA VORTEC's can be used instead of DOD equipment. This determination should include an analysis to specifically identify and measure the impact on tactical air navigation and evaluate those trade-offs necessary for the cost savings.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Air Force and Navy to defer all actions to buy and install land-based replacement TACAN transmitters.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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