Naval Aviation:

The Navy Is Taking Actions to Improve the Combat Capabilities of Its Tactical Aircraft

NSIAD-93-204: Published: Jul 7, 1993. Publicly Released: Aug 6, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed whether certain aircraft had the capabilities needed to perform their assigned missions during Operation Desert Storm, focusing on how naval aircraft operations were affected by the availability of performance-enhancing systems used by tactical aircraft.

GAO found that: (1) only one-third of the Navy's and Marine Corps' F/A-18 fighter aircraft had forward-looking infrared targeting systems; (2) the targeting systems lacked built-in laser target designators which prevented the pilots from using precision-guided munitions; (3) none of the Marine Corps' principal close-air support aircraft had forward-looking infrared targeting systems that would have enabled crews to better locate, identify, and attack targets; (4) the Navy and Marine Corps' F-14 and F/A-18 aircraft lacked systems to differentiate enemy aircraft from friendly aircraft beyond visual range; (5) some Navy and Marine Corps aircraft lacked adequate warning and defensive countermeasure systems to effectively protect their crews from approaching antiaircraft missiles; and (6) Navy aviation officials were aware of most equipment limitations before Desert Storm and initiated some actions to resolve them.

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