Rationale Justifying the Stated Mission Needs for Cruise Missile

PSAD-78-44: Published: Dec 16, 1977. Publicly Released: Dec 16, 1977.

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In an April 1977 report to Congress, GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense reevaluate the role of cruise missiles to assure that developments are directed toward specific military requirements that relate to mission needs. It is uncertain whether the Department of Defense has developed mission needs data or whether they will develop this type of information for each variant of cruise missle as their plans and studies proceed.

At this time, with the possible exception of the air launched version, GAO has not had access to data supporting the need for other land attack versions of the cruise missile. Some of the factors that make it difficult to identify specific mission needs include: the broad issues of strategic force planning, NATO requirements and policy considerations related to theater nuclear weapons, and SALT implications. Other complicating factors deal with the versatility of the cruise missile, its relatively low cost, and predictions of high accuracy, reliability, and survivability. The mission need for each variant should be identified. New developments to meet a mission need should proceed in a logical sequence from the identification and assessment of a projected threat, through identification of existing capabilities to accomplish the mission, assessment of the need in terms of a deficiency in existing capability, to development of a plan to explore alternative solutions. Valid mission needs may result from technological opportunities or opportunities to reduce operating costs. The mission need to be met by the Sea Launched Cruise Missile should be clarified.

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