Electronic Warfare:

Reliable Equipment Needed to Test Air Force's Electronic Warfare Systems

NSIAD-89-137: Published: Aug 11, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 21, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Air Force's ability to detect faulty components and system malfunctions in electronic warfare systems to perform needed repairs, focusing on major radar warning receivers, jammers, and test equipment planned for use in Air Force tactical aircraft.

GAO found that: (1) electronic warfare test equipment was unreliable and did not effectively identify system malfunctions and faulty components; (2) almost half of the 455 jammers that the Air Force considered operationally ready for combat missions had undetected deficiencies while installed; (3) the test equipment that Air Force technicians used to identify malfunctions was unreliable and contributed to long repair times, which could negatively affect combat readiness; (4) the Air Force relied extensively on contractor support to keep its electronic warfare systems operational; (5) the Air Force did not comply with its deployment policies for the test equipment; (6) the Air Force consistently produced and deployed electronic warfare systems before testing maintainability under operational conditions; and (7) the Air Force procured test equipment before testing its capability.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: After 18 months, the Department of Defense (DOD) responded to this recommendation, indicating that the Air Force took no action. The Air Force maintains that improved system reliability has decreased the maintenance burden so that electronic warfare systems can be maintained. Information was reported to the House Government Operations Committee in a subsequent report on the issue in July 1991.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take steps to ensure that proven diagnostic equipment is deployed simultaneously with electronic warfare systems so that the systems can be effectively maintained by Air Force personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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