Electronic Warfare:

DOD Should Select Most Cost-Effective Infrared Countermeasure System

NSIAD-98-2: Published: Apr 28, 1998. Publicly Released: Apr 28, 1998.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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GAO reviewed the Army's Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasure system (ATIRCM) and the U.S. Special Operations Command's (SOCOM) Directional Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) system to determine whether the Department of Defense (DOD) is justified in acquiring both systems.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD may be able to achieve sizable savings by procuring, supporting, and maintaining only one active infrared countermeasure system to protect its aircraft from infrared guided missiles; (2) despite congressional emphasis on, and DOD's stated commitment to, commonality, SOCOM and the Army are acquiring two separate countermeasure systems that eventually will have the same laser effect technology; (3) DOD should determine which system is more cost-effective and procure that one to protect its aircraft; (4) if DIRCM is determined to be more cost-effective, the ATIRCM program should be terminated; and (5) if ATIRCM is determined to be more cost-effective, no additional DIRCM systems should be procured beyond those planned to be procured in July 1998 to meet SOCOM's urgent need.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD recently made the production decision for the DIRCM system. However, the Director of Electronic Combat at DOD formed a study team to analyze whether the competing system, ATIRCM, could cost-effectively be cancelled in favor of DIRCM.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should: (1) direct that the appropriate tests and analyses be conducted to determine whether DIRCM or ATIRCM will provide the most cost-effective means to protect U.S. aircraft; and (2) procure that system for U.S. aircraft that have a requirement for similar infrared countermeasure capabilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Although the Comptroller's office initially withheld the production funds from the program in accordance with the recommendation, subsequently the program office reacquired the production funds and signed contracts for the first two production lots.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should limit DIRCM system procurement to the first production option of 15 systems to allow a limited number for SOCOM's urgent deployment needs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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