Electronic Warfare:

Need to Strengthen Controls Over Air Force Jammer Programs

NSIAD-90-168: Published: Jul 11, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 11, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the performance effectiveness of radar jammers the Air Force recently acquired or will acquire to protect its tactical aircraft.

GAO found that: (1) the Air Force prematurely procured jammers without adequately testing their performance capability, resulting in jammers with limited effectiveness; (2) rather than enhancing aircraft survivability against threat radars, the Air Force did not use some radars and used others on tactical aircraft overseas with inoperable components; (3) the Department of Defense (DOD) required the Air Force to increase the performance capability of some jammers; (4) DOD had not established adequate procedures or other controls for managing or overseeing Air Force jammer programs and had not taken an active role in the programs because it considered them to be minor; and (5) DOD lack of adequate controls over the Air Force's jammer acquisitions contributed to unsatisfactory jammer production.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The joint conferences on DOD Authorization and Appropriation imposed legislative restrictions which require demonstration of effectiveness in operational testing before proceeding to full-rate production. The joint conferences also eliminated most fiscal year 1991 funds for EW jammer programs, eliminated single service funding, and consolidated funds in an OSD line item instead.

    Matter: Despite the cited jammer acquisition experiences, DOD plans further production of the ALQ-184 and ALQ-135 preplanned product improvement jammers without requiring demonstration of satisfactory performance during operational testing. Congress may wish to consider opposing further funding for those jammers until operational testing provides reasonable assurance that they will meet established performance requirements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As a result of congressional action, DOD officials launched a review of electronic warefare acquisition strategy. This review resulted in a February 21, 1991 Acquisition Decision Memorandum requiring Defense operational testing and evaluation certification of ALQ-184 and ALQ-135 performance before proceeding to full-rate production. Savings resulted from congressional funding reductions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should prohibit the Air Force from awarding further contracts for production of jammers until operational testing provides reasonable assurance that they will meet established performance requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD officials stated that no Air Force electronic warfare jammers will be allowed to go to full-rate production in the future without completing operational testing and assurance that the jammers meet performance requirements. No new internal controls, however, have been established to ensure that this will happen, and DOD does not plan to do so.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence to establish adequate internal controls over Air Force jammer programs to ensure that systems are satisfactorily tested and demonstrate acceptable performance before producing and deploying them.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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