Electronic Warfare:

Costly Radar Warning Receiver Duplication Continues

NSIAD-94-4: Published: Nov 29, 1993. Publicly Released: Dec 30, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the services' efforts to achieve radar warning receiver (RWR) commonality for their fixed-wing fighter and attack aircraft.

GAO found that: (1) despite the Department of Defense's (DOD) and Congress' commitment to increasing RWR commonality, the Air Force and Navy have pursued different RWR programs at a cost exceeding $3.4 billion; (2) the Air Force and Navy have not made any progress in achieving RWR commonality for their fixed-wing tactical fighter and attack aircraft since 1987; (3) the lack of commonality in RWR programs continues because DOD has not effectively managed its RWR programs; (4) DOD relies on inadequate analyses to justify separate RWR procurements; (5) achieving commonality in future RWR programs is uncertain because DOD does not have plans to ensure the use of a common system; (6) RWR commonality is feasible and can result in substantial savings; and (7) the services have achieved RWR commonality for their helicopters and special purpose aircraft and are jointly procuring a follow-on system that could result in cost savings nearly equal to the system's total acquisition cost.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress does not intend to act on this recommendation.

    Matter: To promote commonality, Congress may wish to restrict or deny funds to procure new systems or upgrade RWR for existing aircraft until DOD has done an acceptable analysis consistent with GAO recommendations to the Secretary of Defense and then fund only those programs that are consistent with the analysis.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress does not intend to act on this recommendation.

    Matter: To promote commonality, Congress may wish to require DOD to report the controls it is establishing to ensure that the maximum practical RWR commonality is achieved for future-generation aircraft.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD stated that on the basis of situation that existed at the time, the cost to implement the recommendation would be prohibitive. However, in adopting this position, DOD ignored the evidence in the GAO report showing the magnitude of savings possible through commonality. DOD also ignored the explanation accompanying the recommendation that commonality could be achieved over a reasonable time as Air Force and Navy systems require replacement or major upgrades. Thus, DOD apparently has no intent of achieving commonality and will not do so unless forced by the Congress.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should select the best RWR, based on cost and effectiveness, for maximum common use on existing Air Force and Navy fixed-wing tactical fighter and attack aircraft, as well as the B-1B bomber. This analysis should weigh each RWR against all other RWR to identify the system that provides the required level of aircraft protection at the least cost. Costs considered in the analysis should include all future costs applicable to each system's life cycle. In implementing this recommendation, DOD should consider that quickly achieving substantial commonality may not be practical because of budget considerations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD stated that its policy is to emphasize commonality in the development of next generation aircraft and that it had already established adequate controls over new aircraft acquisition through the Defense Acquisition Board. However, in adopting this position, DOD ignored the evidence in the GAO report that the services are developing unique systems for their new aircraft and are achieving no commonality. Thus, the control exercised by the Defense Acquisition Board is clearly nonexistent.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should establish controls over the services' new aircraft acquisitions to ensure that the maximum practical RWR commonality is achieved.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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