Battlefield Automation:

Army Needs to Reevaluate Air Defense Radar Acquisition Programs

NSIAD-91-91: Published: May 3, 1991. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 1991.

Additional Materials:


Louis J. Rodrigues
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Office of Public Affairs
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's acquisition and concurrent development of: (1) the Forward Area Air Defense System, (FAADS), an off-the-shelf ground-based sensor (GBS) radar system; (2) multirole survivable radar (MRSR), an advanced radar technology for potential multiple uses; and (3) an interim lightweight radar for its mobile light divisions.

GAO found that the Army: (1) under its FAADS GBS program, planned to acquire an off-the-shelf system to meet minimum air defense requirements and then modify the system to fully meet its requirements; (2) under its MRSR technology demonstration program, planned to develop advanced radar to meet the requirements of multiple future air defense programs; (3) had similar production and fielding schedules for both programs; (4) did not compare FAADS GBS and MRSR costs and capabilities to determine whether one radar, or the merging of the technologies, could satisfy all of the requirements; (5) estimated that development costs for the two programs would total $452 million; (6) projected that, while MRSR per-unit cost was higher than FAADS GBS unit cost, it would require fewer MRSR than FAADS GBS units; (7) planned to acquire the low-cost, lightweight interim system for its light divisions because of its 1990 retirement of the Forward Area Alerting Radar and the projected unavailability of FAADS GBS until 1997; (8) did not consider the lightweight radar adequate for high-intensity conflicts involving heavy divisions, but some officials believed that the lightweight radars were more capable than the forward observers that heavy divisions used; and (9) could equip all heavy divisions with the lightweight radar for about $39 million.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army's air defense radar programs and requirements have changed. This recommendation is no longer applicable.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should, before entering FAADS GBS production of MRSR full-scale development, evaluate the cost-effectiveness of selecting one of those programs to meet both corps and division air defense requirements based on the demonstrations and evaluations of those systems scheduled to be completed by the end of fiscal year 1992.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On September 13, 1991, Col. Edwards, Office of the Secretary of Defense/Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence, stated that the Army evaluated the need for lightweight radars to fill the gap in air defense radar capability. The Army decided to field the gap filler to light divisions and decided not to field it to the heavy divisions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should consider the availability of interim lightweight radars should they be needed to fill the more critical needs and allow time to select and field one future radar, or merge the radar programs, to satisfy both corps and division long-term requirements. This assessment should consider experiences gained during Operation Desert Storm.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army


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