Combat Systems:

Status of the Navy's Airborne Low Frequency Sonar Program

NSIAD-91-208: Published: Aug 21, 1991. Publicly Released: Aug 21, 1991.

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Martin M. Ferber
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GAO reviewed the Navy's Airborne Low Frequency Sonar (ALFS) system, focusing on the: (1) impact the system will have on SH-60F and SH-60B antisubmarine warfare helicopters' operational effectiveness; and (2) status of the program.

GAO found that the: (1) system's added weight will impact the SH-60B helicopter's operational effectiveness in carrying out its antisubmarine warfare mission and could limit the potential for adding additional systems to the helicopter, but the weight of the SH-60F helicopter is not expected to change significantly because the sonar system will replace an existing dipping sonar system; (2) system's space requirements could seriously impair SH-60B search and rescue and medical evacuation missions if the sonar system has to be removed before the helicopter can be equipped with a stretcher; (3) program is currently more than 1 year behind schedule; and (4) Navy will revise the $1.2-billion program cost estimate when it decides which signal processor to use and awards the contract.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Several weight design options have been identified and the SH-60B Program Office is in the process of conducting a cost and operational effectiveness analysis of ALFS. The analysis was completed in August 1992. The aircraft was redesigned to eliminate the weight problem.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to assess the trade-offs in the operational effectiveness of the SH-60B helicopter that would be necessary due to the additional weight of the Airborne Low Frequency Sonar (ALFS) and other currently planned systems. This assessment should be used as the basis for decisions on SH-60B mission configurations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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