Electronic Warfare:

Most Air Force ALQ-135 Jammers Procured Without Operational Testing

NSIAD-95-47: Published: Nov 22, 1994. Publicly Released: Dec 20, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Air Force's $2-billion program to acquire an upgraded version of the ALQ-135 jammer, focusing on whether the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Air Force took the necessary measures to ensure that the jammer demonstrated acceptable performance before production and deployment.

GAO found that: (1) the Air Force has continued procurement of the ALQ-135 jammer despite its deficient performance, resulting in the premature deployment of systems with limited capability to protect F-15 aircraft against threat weapons; (2) the Air Force has deferred further production of the 1.5 band component due to problems it encountered on the Band 3 program; (3) acquisition of the Band 3 components before adequate operational testing is inconsistent with DOD policy and legislative requirements; (4) the Air Force does not plan to use any other jammer alternatives for protecting F-15E aircraft because it considers the 1.5 Band the only viable option to provide full jammer coverage; and (5) the poor condition of the ALQ-135 program is a direct result of DOD disregard of congressional expectations, its own written policy, and GAO recommendations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD maintained that it had already strengthened its oversight of electronic warfare programs and that additional oversight was not necessary. DOD also stated that the eight Band 1.5 units would be refurbished for use in developmental testing but that, if operational testing of Band 1.5 were initiated, the Air Force might wish to buy one lot of production units for use in the operational testing.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should establish adequate internal controls over all Air Force electronic warfare programs to ensure that systems are satisfactorily tested and demonstrate acceptable performance before producing and deploying them. In particular, if the ALQ-135 Band 1.5 program is to proceed, the Secretary of Defense should prohibit any further procurement of the Band 1.5 until the Air Force demonstrates satisfactory performance of the system during operational testing using the eight units it already has procured.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD stated that the Band 1.5 was not a new program requiring a cost-effectiveness analysis.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require a cost-effectiveness analysis to determine the best approach to provide jammer protection for the F-15E. If the best approach is determined to be other than the upgraded ALQ-135, to include the Band 1.5, the Secretary should stop currently planned procurement of Band 3 systems for F-15C aircraft and use existing F-15E Band 3 systems to meet the F-15C requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation, and the planned initial operational testing and evaluation will focus on the effectiveness of the system.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should limit planned operational testing of the ALQ-135 Band 3 to effectiveness issues only, since most of the systems have already been procured. Data needed to evaluate the system's operational suitability characteristics, such as reliability and maintainability, can be obtained during exercises by the tactical units to which it has been deployed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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