Electronic Warfare:

Navy/Air Force Still Developing Separate, Costly Radar Warning Receivers

NSIAD-87-167: Published: Jul 1, 1987. Publicly Released: Jul 1, 1987.

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Thomas J. Brew
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GAO reviewed Air Force and Navy radar warning receiver (RWR) programs, focusing on the: (1) Department of Defense's (DOD) lack of response to prior recommendations for achieving commonality in RWR acquisition programs; and (2) Air Force's and Navy's continued acquisition of separate receivers and the adverse effects resulting from this acquisition.

GAO found that: (1) DOD did not implement the recommendations for overcoming obstacles to the merger of Air Force and Navy RWR programs; (2) the Air Force RWR improvement program will cost an estimated $500 million; (3) the Navy's RWR improvement program was estimated to cost over $1.3 billion; (4) both the Air Force and Navy are acquiring nine different receivers for existing tactical aircraft, at an estimated cost of over $6.6 billion; and (5) none of the receivers are common to both Air Force and Navy aircraft, and seven of them entered development or production since GAO and Congress made their merger recommendations. GAO noted that the: (1) main problem in achieving commonality appears to be each service's belief that its system concept is best and the constant updating of unique systems; (2) services' main argument against changing to a common system is the cost involved in the aircraft wiring adjustments to accommodate a replacement RWR; and (3) services did not include the cost benefits of commonality in their analyses of RWR programs. GAO also found that, because the Air Force and Navy concurrently tested and produced receivers, production began before operational testing revealed serious deficiencies with the receivers.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has determined that near-term commonality of RWR is too costly and intends to solve the problem of RWR proliferation through the development of the Integrated Electronic Warfare System (INEWS) for the next generation tactical aircraft. A future review is planned.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should select the best RWR equipment, based on cost and effectiveness, for maximum common use on existing Air Force and Navy tactical aircraft.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD believes that if current production is slowed, new aircraft could be delivered without installed RWR. In their view, the INEWS system will solve the problem for the future.

    Recommendation: Until the selection of the common RWR, the Secretary of Defense should slow production and delay further contract awards for RWR until operational tests provide reasonable assurance that their performance will be satisfactory.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should stop those RWR programs that cannot be demonstrated as cost-effective.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Office of the Secretary of Defense required the Navy to prepare a Cost and Operational Effectiveness Analysis (COEA) for the AN/ALR-67 advanced special receiver and also suggested that the Navy deter the development of the receiver because the Air Force already developed a receiver with the latest technology. The Navy is proceeding with its own new development program.

    Recommendation: To ensure selection of the best RWR, the cost-effectiveness analyses performed should not be restricted to short-term cost, but should consider the life-cycle costs, including expected savings to result from commonality.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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