Electronic Warfare:

Phased Approach to Infrared Upgrades Would Reduce Risk to Helicopters

NSIAD-00-171: Published: Jul 27, 2000. Publicly Released: Jul 27, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's acquisition strategy for its Suite of Integrated Infrared Countermeasures Systems, focusing on whether the requirements of the Army's helicopters.

GAO noted that: (1) the Army's strategy for acquiring improved infrared countermeasure systems for its helicopters could be revised to better satisfy the needs of the Army's helicopters; (2) the current strategy is to defer production and fielding of the Suite of Integrated Infrared Countermeasures until all four components of the system are successfully developed; (3) however, because of delays in developing one of these components, the laser-based infrared jammer, most Army helicopters will remain vulnerable to currently fielded enemy missiles until the second half of this decade or later; (4) if the strategy is revised to take a phased approach, all helicopters scheduled to receive the countermeasures could be better protected from current heat-seeking missiles much sooner; (5) the phased approach could be accomplished by installing either: (a) existing programmable dispensers, advanced flares, and missile warning systems in use by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, for about $175,000 per helicopter; or (b) the new programmable dispenser, advanced flares, and new missile warning system when those components are ready, for about $300,000 per helicopter; and (6) hence, the Army could provide improved infrared countermeasures for the 1,047 helicopters planned to first receive the Suite of Integrated Infrared Countermeasures for about $183 million for the first approach, and $314 million for the second approach.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In fiscal year 2002, the Army began implementing a phased approach to fielding improved infrared countermeasures on Army Special Operations helicopters. Specifically, the Army began acquiring and installing programmable countermeasures dispensers, advanced flares, and missile warning systems to meet urgent near-term requirements. The Army plans to field the laser component of the system when it completes development.

    Recommendation: To reduce the risk to the Army's helicopters from heat-seeking missiles, the Army should acquire and install programmable countermeasure dispensers, advanced flares, and missile warning systems as part of a revised acquisition strategy that takes a phased approach to fielding improved infrared countermeasures. These installations should be done during the Army's ongoing and planned helicopter remanufacture programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army


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