Defense Technology Base:

Risks of Foreign Dependencies for Military Unique Critical Technologies

NSIAD-92-231: Published: Jun 5, 1992. Publicly Released: Jul 6, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on technologies critical to national defense, focusing on: (1) identifying critical technologies with primarily military applications; (2) foreign countries' sophistication in those technologies relative to U.S. sophistication; and (3) how other countries' capabilities in those technologies affect U.S. national security.

GAO found that: (1) 6 of the 21 critical technologies that the Department of Defense (DOD) identified in the DOD Critical Technologies Plan had primarily military applications; (2) those technologies included sensitive radar, target signature control, weapon system environment, pulsed power, hypervelocity projectiles and propulsion, and high-energy density materials; (3) the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) believes that some foreign countries may be more advanced than the United States in some areas of the six technologies; (4) DIA believes that certain foreign countries are increasing their capabilities in some technologies at the same rate as the United States; (5) DOD is revising the Critical Technologies Plan to reflect changing geopolitical realities and national security requirements; (6) in four of the six technologies, foreign countries' greater relative sophistication had no significant impact on U.S. security; (7) other countries' capabilities in some areas of signature control and weapon system environment could cause concern if those countries became as adept in those areas as the United States; and (8) DOD is unsure how changed conditions in the former Soviet Union will affect critical military technologies.

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