Aircraft Identification:

Improved Aircraft Identification Capabilities: A Critical Need

NSIAD-86-181: Published: Aug 11, 1986. Publicly Released: Aug 11, 1986.

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GAO examined whether current capabilities for identifying aircraft allow the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) air defense forces to effectively use their weapons under all combat conditions and whether the United States and NATO could take steps to better use existing identification capabilities.

GAO found that: (1) the United States and NATO have difficulty in identifying aircraft beyond visual range, at night, or in bad weather; (2) the Department of Defense (DOD) has made little progress since the mid-1970's in developing and fielding new systems; and (3) Army and Air Force units in Europe need to make better use of the Mark XII identification system.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A high-level joint management team is being formed with a Memorandum of Agreement to be completed by March 1987. A steering committee was formed and is reviewing overlap. An Office of the Secretary of Defense letter, dated April 24, 1987, stated that actions were completed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should elevate the Combat Identification System Program Office to a higher level of authority within DOD to ensure that it adequately considers identification requirements in major weapon system acquisition programs and to ensure that the program office has the authority to obtain the personnel needed to accomplish the program objective.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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