Questionable Need for Product Improvements to Army's VULCAN Air Defense System

MASAD-81-21: Published: Mar 16, 1981. Publicly Released: Mar 16, 1981.

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As part of a review of air defense in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) central region, proposed product improvements to the VULCAN Air Defense System were examined. VULCAN is a congressionally initiated program designed to enhance the near term readiness of air defense in the airborne and air assault divisions of the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF). Two concerns were voiced that need to be addressed before any action is taken to improve the VULCAN system: (1) the effectiveness of VULCAN against the the representative threat; and (2) whether alternative systems can satisfy the need.

The current Army analysis will not and was not intended to focus on these areas. The Army has not completed assessing the threat to the airborne and air assault divisions of RDF. Also, increased range and lethality of the improved VULCAN have not yet been tested by the Army. Preliminary analyses show that the proposed product improvements (1) will extend the VULCAN's range with new ammunition, (2) enhance operability and tracking accuracy, and (3) reduce reaction time. The effectiveness of these improvements remains to be proven. The Army should consider alternatives to the improved VULCAN system and the strategic mobility, timeliness, and effectiveness of both VULCAN and possible alternatives.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Army to fully justify the need for the improved VULCAN before the improvement program is allowed to proceed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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