Electronic Warfare: Comprehensive Strategy Still Needed for	 
Suppressing Enemy Air Defenses (25-NOV-02, GAO-03-51).		 
                                                                 
U.S. military aircraft are often at great risk from enemy air	 
defenses, and the services use specialized aircraft to neutralize
or destroy them. In January 2001, GAO reported that a gap existed
between the services' suppression capabilities and their needs	 
and recommended that a comprehensive strategy was needed to fix  
the situation. In response to GAO's report, DOD emphasized that a
major study underway at the time would provide the basis for a	 
Department-wide strategy and lead to a balanced set of		 
acquisition programs between the services. This report updates	 
our previous work and assesses actions that DOD has taken to	 
improve its suppression capabilities.				 
-------------------------Indexing Terms------------------------- 
REPORTNUM:   GAO-03-51						        
    ACCNO:   A05585						        
  TITLE:     Electronic Warfare: Comprehensive Strategy Still Needed  
for Suppressing Enemy Air Defenses				 
     DATE:   11/25/2002 
  SUBJECT:   Air defense systems				 
	     Air warfare					 
	     Defense capabilities				 
	     Electronic warfare 				 
	     Radar equipment					 
	     Military aircraft					 
	     Aircraft maintenance				 
	     Aircraft components				 
	     F-4G Aircraft					 
	     EF-111 Aircraft					 
	     EA-6B Aircraft					 
	     Vietnam War					 
	     Desert Storm					 
	     F/A-18 Aircraft					 
	     DOD Operation Allied Force 			 
	     F-117 Stealth Fighter				 
	     F-16C/D Aircraft					 
	     F-16C/G Aircraft					 
	     F-16C/F Aircraft					 
	     Apache Helicopter					 
	     EC-130 Aircraft					 
	     Yugoslavia 					 
	     Air Force Expeditionary Aerospace Force		 
	     Concept						 
                                                                 
	     Navy Improved Capability Program III		 
	     HARM Targeting System				 
	     F-15C Aircraft					 
	     F-18C Aircraft					 
	     Navy Integrated Defensive Electronic		 
	     Countermeasures System				 
                                                                 
	     DOD Precision Location and 			 
	     Identification System				 
                                                                 
	     F/A-18E/F Aircraft 				 
	     B-1B Aircraft					 
	     Miniature Air-Launched Decoy			 
	     Improved Tactical Air Launched Decoy		 
	     Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile		 
	     B-52H Aircraft					 

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GAO-03-51

Report to the Secretary of Defense

United States General Accounting Office

GAO

November 2002 ELECTRONIC WARFARE

Comprehensive Strategy Still Needed for Suppressing Enemy Air Defenses

GAO- 03- 51

Why GAO Did This Study

U. S. military aircraft are often at great risk from enemy air defenses,
and the services use specialized aircraft to neutralize or destroy them.
In January 2001, GAO reported that a gap existed between the services*
suppression capabilities and their needs and recommended that a
comprehensive strategy was needed to fix the situation. In response to
GAO*s report, DOD emphasized that a major study underway at the time would
provide the basis for a Department- wide strategy and lead to a balanced
set of acquisition programs between the services. This report updates our
previous work and assesses actions that DOD has taken to improve its
suppression capabilities.

November 2002 ELECTRONIC WARFARE Comprehensive Strategy Still Needed for
Suppressing Enemy Air Defenses

The full report, including GAO's objectives, scope, methodology, and
analysis is available at www. gao. gov/ cgi- bin/ gerpt? GAO- 03- 51. For
additional information about the report, call R. E. Levin on (202) 512-
3519.

Highlights of GAO- 03- 51, a report to the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld,
Secretary of Defense

What GAO Recommends

GAO continues to recommend that the Secretary of Defense develop a
comprehensive, crossservice strategy to close the gap between DOD*s
suppression capabilities and needs. In addition, an effective coordinating
entity is needed to develop and monitor implementation of the strategy.

In answer to a draft of GAO*s report, DOD concurred with its
recommendations. Staff changes are being made to address crosscutting
issues, and an integrated product team process established to form a
comprehensive approach to the electronic warfare mission.

United States General Accounting Office

What GAO Found

The Department of Defense continues to face a gap between its need to
suppress enemy air defenses and its capabilities to do so, despite some
progress in upgrading its capabilities. There are not enough existing
suppression aircraft to meet overall requirements, some aircraft are
experiencing wing and engine problems, and improvements are needed to
counter evolving threats. DOD*s primary suppression aircraft, the EA6B, is
also reaching the end of its life cycle and a replacement is needed as
early as 2009. Furthermore, some aircraft self- protection equipment,
which provide additional suppression capabilities, have also been found to
be unreliable.

DOD has not yet developed an integrated, comprehensive approach to the U.
S. air defense suppression mission but has recently completed an Analysis
of Alternatives that presented the services with 27 options for replacing
the aging EA- 6B. The services formed a coordinating group to assess the
options, and in June 2002 presented service- specific proposals to the
Office of the Secretary of Defense for analysis and consideration in the
2004 budget. However, the Analysis of Alternatives did not provide the
basis for a comprehensive strategy to address the department*s overall
suppression needs. It only analyzed the airborne electronic attack portion
of the mission and did not address needed improvements in aircraft self-
protection systems or the technical and funding challenges of other
service programs such as the Navy*s and Air Force*s airlaunched decoy
programs. G A O Accountability Integrity Reliability

Highlights

Page i GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare Letter 1

Results in Brief 2 Background 3 Despite Some Increases in Capabilities, a
Gap Remains 5 DOD Has Made Little Progress in Establishing a Coordinating

Entity and Comprehensive Strategy for the Suppression Mission 12
Conclusions 14 Recommendations for Executive Action 14 Agency Comments and
Our Evaluation 15 Scope and Methodology 15

Appendix I Locations Visited during This Review 17

Appendix II Comments from the Department of Defense 18

Figures

Figure 1: EA- 6B with Jammer Pod and HARM Preparing for Launch from an
Aircraft Carrier 7 Figure 2: F- 16CJ Aircraft with the HARM Targeting Pod
and HARM 9 Contents

Page 1 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

November 25, 2002 The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld The Secretary of
Defense

Dear Mr. Secretary: In conducting military operations, U. S. aircraft are
often at great risk from enemy air defenses, such as surface- to- air
missiles. The services use specialized aircraft to neutralize, destroy, or
temporarily degrade enemy air defense systems through either electronic
warfare or physical attack. These aircraft use electronic warfare devices,
called jammers, which transmit electronic signals that disrupt enemy radar
and communications to temporarily suppress enemy air defenses. Other
specialized aircraft use antiradiation missiles that home in on radars
used by surface- to- air missiles or antiaircraft artillery systems to
degrade or destroy them. Because specialized aircraft protect all service
aircraft in hostile airspace, the suppression mission necessarily crosses
individual service lines. In addition, military aircraft use on- board
self- protection equipment to detect and suppress enemy air defenses, such
as radar warning receivers and jammers.

In 1993 and 1996, we issued reports expressing concerns over Department of
Defense (DOD) decisions to eliminate the F- 4G and EF- 111 suppression
aircraft without first fielding comparable replacements. 1 These aircraft
were retired because the cost of maintaining them was perceived to be too
great, and because the Air Force planned to field stealthy aircraft 2 in
the future. However, after stealth aircraft were revealed to be vulnerable
in Kosovo, the services realized that the loss of suppression capability
had actually increased U. S. aircraft vulnerability to enemy air defenses
and that suppression assets were still needed. Because no replacements
were yet available, the Navy*s aging EA- 6B became DOD*s only standoff
radar jammer aircraft, providing suppression support for all the services.

1 U. S. General Accounting Office, Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses: Air
Force Plans,

GAO/ NSIAD- 93- 221 (Washington, D. C.: Sept. 30, 1993) and Combat Air
Power: Funding Priority for Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses May Be Too
Low, GAO/ NSIAD- 96- 128 (Washington, D. C.: Apr. 10, 1996).

2 Aircraft are referred to as stealthy or stealth when they are
constructed with features that make them harder to detect with radar and
infrared systems.

United States General Accounting Office Washington, DC 20548

Page 2 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

In January 2001, we expressed concern about the acknowledged gap between
the services* suppression capabilities and their needs, and DOD*s
fragmented approach to the suppression mission. The gap is a consequence
of the increasing modernization of enemy air defenses that has outpaced
DOD*s effort to improve its suppression capabilities. We recommended that
DOD designate an interservice coordinating entity to develop a
comprehensive, cross- service strategy to close the gap. 3 DOD agreed with
our findings but disagreed with our recommendation. The Department stated
that a study * the Airborne Electronic Attack Analysis of Alternatives *
underway at the time, would provide a basis for its future strategy and
lead to a balanced set of acquisition programs for the services. The
objective of this report is to update our previous work and assess the
actions DOD has taken to (1) improve its suppression capabilities and (2)
develop an integrated, comprehensive approach for closing the gap between
its capabilities and needs. Due to security classification, some details
about the various suppression programs are not included in this report.

DOD has been making some progress in upgrading its capabilities, but it
continues to face a gap between its need to suppress enemy air defenses
and the availability of equipment to allow it to do so. There are not
enough existing suppression aircraft to meet overall requirements, some
aircraft are experiencing wing and engine problems, and improvements are
needed to counter evolving threats. In addition, DOD*s primary suppression
aircraft, the EA- 6B, is reaching the end of its life cycle and a
replacement aircraft is needed as early as 2009. Furthermore, some
aircraft self- protection equipment, which is intended to provide
additional suppression capabilities, has also been found to be unreliable.
Individual service efforts to address problems by refurbishing aircraft,
procuring and fielding more of the current suppression aircraft, and
upgrading some electronic warfare equipment, while closing some of the
gap, will not fill all current and future needs.

DOD has not yet developed an integrated, comprehensive approach to the U.
S. air defense suppression mission. In December 2001, DOD completed an
Airborne Electronic Attack Analysis of Alternatives that examined options
for replacing the aging EA- 6B. Although the analysis provided

3 U. S. General Accounting Office, Electronic Warfare: Comprehensive
Strategy Needed for Suppressing Enemy Air Defenses, GAO- 01- 28
(Washington, D. C.: Jan. 3, 2001). Results in Brief

Page 3 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

detailed modeling of the estimated costs and capabilities of 27 options,
it contained no recommendations on what system or systems should be
acquired. The analysis did not provide the basis for a balanced,
comprehensive strategy to address DOD*s overall suppression needs. For
example, it did not address improvements in aircraft self- protection
systems or the technical and funding challenges of other service programs
such as the Navy*s and Air Force*s air- launched decoy programs. The
services formed a coordinating group to assess the options, and in June
2002 the Navy and the Air Force presented specific proposals to the Office
of the Secretary of Defense for consideration in the fiscal year 2004
budget. These proposals emphasized only separate service- specific
programs to replace EA- 6B capabilities. DOD is currently analyzing the
services* proposals to determine what mix of systems to approve.

We continue to recommend that you develop a comprehensive, integrated,
cost- effective cross- service strategy to close the gap between DOD*s
suppression capabilities and needs. In addition, an effective coordinating
entity is needed to develop and monitor implementation of the strategy.

In commenting on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with our findings
and recommendations.

The United States experienced heavy aircraft and aircrew losses to enemy
air defenses during the Vietnam War. Since then, the services have
recognized air defense suppression as a necessary component of air
operations. Consequently, when a crisis arises, suppression aircraft are
among the first to be called in and the last to leave. Radar is the
primary means used by enemy forces to detect, track, and target U. S.
aircraft with missiles and guns. Hence, U. S. suppression aircraft focus
on trying to neutralize, degrade, or destroy the enemy*s air defense radar
equipment. U. S. suppression aircraft, using missiles and jammers,
generally begin suppressing enemy air defenses after they begin emitting
radio- frequency signals. Also, in some cases, aircraft launch
antiradiation missiles that can search for and destroy enemy radars if
they are turned on. At some risk to the aircraft and aircrews, suppression
aircraft must be in the vicinity of the enemy air defenses to complete
their mission.

Enemy radars in the past were usually fixed in position, operated
independent of each other, and turned on for lengthy periods of time* all
of which made them relatively easy to find and suppress through electronic
warfare or physical attack. Such was the case in Operation Desert Storm,
when suppression aircraft such as EA- 6B and the Background

Page 4 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

now- retired EF- 111 and F- 4G played a vital role in protecting other U.
S. aircraft from radar- guided missile systems. In fact, strike aircraft
were normally not permitted to conduct air operations unless protected by
these suppression aircraft. The EA- 6B and EF- 111 were equipped with
transmitters to disrupt or *jam* radar equipment used by enemy surface-
to- air missiles or antiaircraft artillery systems. The F- 4G, F/ A- 18,
and EA- 6B used antiradiation missiles that homed in on enemy radar
systems to destroy them. The Air Force replaced the F- 4G with a less
capable aircraft, the F- 16CG, but did not upgrade or replace the EF- 111.
4

According to DOD, countries have sought to make their air defenses more
resistant to suppression. These efforts include increasing the mobility of
their surface- to- air missiles and radar equipment, connecting radars
together into integrated air defense systems, and adding sophisticated
capabilities so that the radar can detect aircraft while turned on for a
shorter period of time. These defenses use various means to track and
target aircraft, including modern telecommunications equipment and
computers to create networks of early warning radar, missile system radar,
and passive detection systems that pick up aircraft communications or heat
from aircraft engines. Integrated networks provide air defense operators
with the ability to track and target aircraft even if individual radar
elements of the network are jammed or destroyed.

Since the end of Desert Storm in 1991, U. S. suppression aircraft have
been continuously deployed to protect fighter aircraft maintaining the no-
fly zones over Iraq. More recently, these aircraft have been deployed to
Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. In 1999, during Operation Allied Force in
Yugoslavia and Kosovo, these aircraft were extremely important for
protecting strike aircraft from enemy radar- guided missiles. However,
according to the Defense Intelligence Agency, these aircraft were unable
to destroy their integrated air defense system because Yugoslav forces
often engaged in elaborate efforts to protect their air defense assets.
These efforts reduced Yugoslav opportunities to engage U. S. and coalition
aircraft because their air defense assets could not be used and protected
simultaneously. Nevertheless, in two separate incidents, Yugoslav forces

4 The Air Force planned to replace the F- 4G with an F- 15 modified for
the suppression mission with at least the same capability as the F- 4G.
The Air Force fielded the F- 16CG as an interim capability while it
planned the development of the F- 15 suppression aircraft. Subsequently,
the Air Force terminated the F- 15 effort and the F- 16CG and the newer F-
16CJ became permanent replacements for the F- 4G. The F- 15 effort was
terminated because of its expected high costs.

Page 5 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

managed to shoot down an F- 117 stealth fighter and an F- 16CG. In
addition to the two losses, the inability of the United States to counter
Yugoslav air defenses that included radar and infrared guided missiles
made it necessary for U. S. forces to (1) fly thousands of dedicated
suppression missions, pushing suppression forces in Europe to their
limits, and (2) raise their strike missions to higher altitudes or keep
low- flying aircraft such as the Army*s Apache attack helicopters out of
combat to reduce risk from infrared missile threats.

DOD now primarily uses Navy and Marine Corps EA- 6Bs for radar jamming and
Air Force EC- 130s for communications jamming. Recently, EA- 6Bs and EC-
130s saw combat in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Air defenses
there were relatively weak compared to those faced by U. S. aircraft in
Yugoslavia, placing fewer demands on suppression aircraft to jam air
defense systems. This gave the EA- 6B an opportunity to exploit new
techniques to jam ground communications by working with the EC- 130 and
other electronic intelligence gathering aircraft.

Since our January 2001 report, 5 the services have had some success in
improving their suppression capabilities, but they have not reached a
level needed to counter future threats. When the Air Force retired the EF-
111 without a replacement, the Navy*s EA- 6B became DOD*s primary airborne
radar jammer, providing suppression support for all the services. High
demand for the aircraft has exacerbated current wing and engine problems,
and the Navy has been unable to meet its overall requirements. Efforts are
underway to address the EA- 6B*s problems and improve its suppression
equipment, but the Navy projects that the declining EA- 6B inventory will
be insufficient to meet DOD*s needs beyond 2009. The Air Force*s F- 16CJ
fleet has grown and the aircraft*s capabilities are being improved, but it
still lacks some of the capabilities of the F- 4G, the aircraft it
replaced. Also, the Air Force and the Navy have improvements underway for
other systems such as the EC- 130 and antiradiation missiles but face
funding challenges. Finally, to the extent there are gaps in suppression
capabilities, U. S. fighter aircraft and helicopters must rely on self-
protection equipment to suppress enemy air defenses, but some of this
equipment has been proven to be unreliable. The services have some
programs underway to improve this self- protection equipment, such as

5 See GAO- 01- 28. Despite Some

Increases in Capabilities, a Gap Remains

Page 6 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

developing new towed decoys, but, as discussed below, these programs have
been hampered by technical and funding issues.

The Navy does not have enough EA- 6Bs to meet DOD*s suppression needs due
to wing fatigue and engine problems that have grounded aircraft; downtime
required for routinely scheduled depot level maintenance; and, in the
future, downtime to install major capability upgrades in the aircraft.
Because of its limited numbers and high rate of use by the warfighting
commanders, DOD designated the EA- 6B as a *low density, high demand*
asset to support worldwide joint military operations. EA- 6Bs are included
in all aircraft carrier deployments and support the Air Force*s Aerospace
Expeditionary Forces. To meet a requirement to field 104 aircraft out of a
total inventory of 124 (with an average age of 19 years), the Navy
refurbished 20 retired EA- 6Bs. Subsequently, in 2001, 2 EA- 6Bs crashed,
reducing the total inventory to 122 aircraft. Also in that year, the Navy
planned to raise the requirement to 108 aircraft and establish an
additional EA- 6B squadron, but that has been delayed until March 2004. In
February 2002, the Navy had only 91 EA- 6Bs available for operations
instead of the 104 required. As a result, while the Navy has been able to
meet operational commitments, it has been unable to meet some of its
training and exercise requirements. Aging EA- 6B Aircraft Are

Unable to Meet Force Structure Objectives

Page 7 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

Figure 1: EA- 6B with Jammer Pod and HARM Preparing for Launch from an
Aircraft Carrier

Source: U. S. Navy.

The Navy is currently taking action to remedy EA- 6B wing fatigue and
engine failures, and flight restrictions have been put in place. However,
because wing fatigue has continued to grow, the Navy may have to ground
additional aircraft. The Navy plans to replace a total of 67 wing center
sections to remedy the problem, and it will spend $4.4 million each for
such replacements for 17 aircraft in the fiscal year 2002 budget. In
addition, DOD*s 2002 supplemental funds covered 8 additional wing
replacements, and the Navy is programming funds for 10 more wing
replacements for each year in the Future Years Defense Plan.

In 2001, the Navy also began experiencing problems with the EA- 6B*s
engines. Premature failure of certain engine bearings caused some engines
to fail, and it may have caused the crash of two aircraft in 2001. The
Navy grounded over 50 engines until they could be overhauled, but it
expects to have them back in service by late this year.

The constant deployment of this *low density* EA- 6B fleet for contingency
operations has contributed to its deterioration and to other
maintenancerelated problems. For example, to maintain the readiness of
squadrons

Page 8 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

deployed to Kosovo and other ongoing commitments, the Navy took spare
parts and personnel from nondeployed squadrons and subjected the EA- 6B to
above average cannibalization of parts. 6 This impacted the ability of
nondeployed units to train and maintain aircrew proficiency. The constant
deployments also added to personnel problems in terms of quality of life.
EA- 6B crews, for example, are often away from home for extended periods
of time creating hardships for their families.

Given the EA- 6B*s age and high rate of use, the Navy says that even if
the EA- 6B fleet*s problems are remedied, it will be unable to meet force
structure requirements in 2009, and all EA- 6B aircraft will be out of the
force by 2015. Therefore, the Navy says it needs a replacement aircraft to
begin entering the force by 2009 if requirements are to be met.

The Navy has been upgrading its EA- 6B electronic warfare equipment over
the years, and it is currently modifying its radar signal receiver and
related equipment. The modification program, known as the Improved
Capability Program (ICAP) III, provides improved radar locating and
jamming capabilities to counter modern enemy air defense threats. As of
January 2002, according to DOD, ICAP III engineering and manufacturing
development was about 94 percent complete, and the modification began
testing on the first aircraft in November 2001. The Navy expects ICAP III
to reach initial operational capability in 2005 and to be installed on all
EA- 6Bs by 2010, about the time when the aircraft begins to reach the end
of its service life. The Navy is considering using a modified version of
the ICAP III equipment on whatever follow- on suppression aircraft are
developed and fielded, and is also upgrading the EA- 6B jammer pods to
increase the number of frequencies that can be jammed.

The Air Force is procuring 30 additional F- 16CJ suppression aircraft to
meet force structure requirements for the Air Force*s Aerospace
Expeditionary Forces. In all, 219 F- 16CJ aircraft will be available. To
fully implement its concept of operations for the Expeditionary Forces,
the Air Force also plans to increase the capability of the latest model F-
16C/ Ds (block 40) and the F- 16CJs (block 50) to be used for both attack
and

6 See U. S. General Accounting Office, Military Aircraft: Services Need
Strategies to Reduce Cannibalizations, GAO- 02- 86 (Washington, D. C.:
Nov. 21, 2001). DOD defines cannibalization as removing serviceable parts
for one piece of equipment and installing them in another. Navy Is
Improving EA- 6B

Jamming Capabilities Air Force Continues F- 16CJ and EC- 130 Upgrades but
Has Not Fully Funded the Programs

Page 9 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

suppression missions. To accomplish this, the F- 16C/ Ds will be modified
to carry the HARM Targeting System, and the F- 16CJs will be modified to
carry the Advanced Target Pod. The HARM Targeting System will provide
situational awareness to the F- 16C/ Ds and targeting information to the
HARM missile to permit them to perform the suppression mission. The
Advanced Target Pod will enable the F- 16CJs to deliver precision- guided
munitions.

Figure 2: F- 16CJ Aircraft with the HARM Targeting Pod and HARM

Source: U. S. Air Force.

The Air Force recently upgraded the HARM Targeting System and is procuring
additional systems. The upgrade (known as R- 6) provides better and faster
targeting information to the missile, but even with this pod the F- 16CJ
still lacks some of the capabilities of the retired F- 4G. The Air Force
completed the R- 6 upgrade on fielded systems in December 2001 and systems
subsequently produced will have it. Once 31 additional systems are
delivered in 2002, the F- 16CJs will have a total inventory of 202
systems, short of the Air Force*s original goal of having 1.1 systems per
aircraft, or about 240 systems. Also, the Air Force has partially funded
additional upgrades (called R- 7) for the HARM Targeting System in 2003,
and plans to fully fund the upgrade in the 2004 budget cycle, according to
Air Force operational requirements officials. These officials also stated

Page 10 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

that they are considering funding for additional R- 7 HARM Targeting
Systems for F- 16CJs and F- 16C/ Ds in the 2004 budget submission.

The Air Force is also upgrading the capabilities of the EC- 130 Compass
Call Aircraft, which perform primarily communications jamming missions.
The upgrades are intended to improve the aircraft*s jamming capabilities,
reliability, and maintainability. The EC- 130 is another *low density,
high demand* asset with a total of only 13 operational aircraft, of which
11 are being funded for upgrade.

Gaps in the services* air defense suppression aircraft make it essential
that other aircraft have the ability to protect themselves from enemy
defenses. The services have already identified serious reliability
problems with current self- protection systems on U. S. combat aircraft,
including jammers, radar warning receivers, and countermeasures
dispensers. Most of the current systems use older technology and have
logistics support problems due to obsolescence. Also, as we reported last
year, 7 the selfprotection systems on strike aircraft may have more
problems than the services estimate. In reviewing test results using the
new Joint Service Electronic Combat System Tester, we found that aircraft
the services believed to be mission capable were not because of faults in
their electronic combat systems that were undetected by older test
equipment. The faults ranged from the identification of parts needing to
be replaced inside the electronic combat systems, to the wiring, antennas,
and control units that connect the systems to the aircraft. For example,
41 of 44 F- 15C aircraft and 10 of 10 F- 18C aircraft previously believed
to be fully mission capable were subsequently found to have one or more
faults in their self- protection systems, and 1 F- 18C had 12 such faults.
Coupled with the problems in the suppression aircraft, these shortcomings
could create survivability problems for the aircraft should they encounter
significant enemy air defense capabilities in some future conflict.

The services have some programs underway to improve self- protection
capabilities such as the joint Navy and Air Force Integrated Defensive
Electronic Countermeasures (IDECM) system and the Precision Location and
Identification (PLAID) system. The IDECM system will provide the

7 See U. S. General Accounting Office, Electronic Combat: Services Should
Consider Greater Use of New Test Equipment for Their Aircraft, GAO- 01-
843 (Washington, D. C.: Aug. 30, 2001). Aircraft Self- Protection

Systems Are Also Experiencing Problems

Page 11 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

F- 15, F/ A- 18E/ F, and B- 1B aircraft with improved self- protection
through jammers and towed decoys. The system has experienced some delays
in engineering and development, and the estimated procurement cost has
doubled. The PLAID system will provide aircrews with accurate location and
identification of enemy air defense systems. The services expect to field
both systems in 2004.

The services have initiated additional research and development efforts to
improve their ability to suppress enemy air defenses, but they face
technology challenges and/ or a lack of funding priority for many of these
programs. The Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD), which an Air Force
analysis has shown could make a significant contribution to aircraft
survivability, illustrates this problem. MALD is supposed to mimic an
aircraft and draw enemy air defenses away from the real aircraft. A
recently completed Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration, it had been
funded by the Air Force for an initial small procurement of 300 decoys,
with potential for further procurement. According to the Air Force, after
experiencing technical problems, MALD did not meet user needs, and its
procurement cost estimates increased. Thus, the Air Force canceled the
procurement and restructured MALD to address deficiencies highlighted in
the demonstration.

The Navy has been developing its own decoy, the Improved Tactical Air
Launched Decoy (ITALD), but it has procured only part of its inventory
objective. Despite recurring congressional increases for the past several
fiscal years, the Navy has not submitted budget requests for ITALDs or
procured units to complete its inventory objective because of competing
priorities.

Also, the Navy is upgrading the HARM missile used to attack shipborne and
ground- based radars. The first phase of the upgrade improves missile
accuracy by incorporating global positioning and inertial navigation
systems into the missile. A second upgrade, the Advanced Anti- Radiation
Guided Missile, will add millimeter wave capability to allow the missile
to target radars that have stopped emitting. While the Air Force employs
the HARM missile as well, it is not involved in the HARM upgrade program.
Other Development Efforts

Are Underway with Some Facing Funding Constraints and Technology
Challenges

Page 12 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

DOD has acknowledged the gap in U. S. air defense suppression capabilities
for some time and has conducted several studies to identify solutions, but
it has had little success in closing the gap. Our past work and the work
of others have cited the need for DOD to establish some coordinating
entity to develop a comprehensive strategy that addresses this capability
gap. In response to our previous report, DOD stated that its Airborne
Electronic Attack Analysis of Alternatives would provide the basis for
such a strategy. However, the analysis was limited to assessing options
for replacing the EA- 6B rather than assessing the needs of the overall
suppression mission. Upon completion of the analysis, the Navy and the Air
Force proposed options for replacing EA- 6B capabilities, and DOD is
currently evaluating these proposals for consideration in the 2004 budget
submission.

In fiscal year 2000, Congress expressed concerns that DOD did not have a
serious plan for a successor to the EA- 6B aircraft and directed DOD to
conduct the Airborne Electronic Attack Analysis of Alternatives for
replacing the EA- 6B. 8 DOD indicated in its response to our January 2001
report that the analysis would lead to a DOD- wide strategy and balanced
set of acquisition programs to address the overall gaps between
suppression needs and capabilities. However, it was only intended to
address the airborne electronic attack aspect of the suppression mission
and therefore did not address the acknowledged problems with aircraft
self- protection systems or the technical and funding challenges of other
service programs such as the Navy*s ITALD program, the Air Force*s MALD
program, and the Air Force*s EC- 130 modifications.

The Navy took the lead on the joint analysis with participation by all the
services. The analysis, completed in December 2001, concluded that the
services needed a standoff system or a combination of systems to operate
at a distance from enemy targets and a stand- in system that would provide
close- in suppression protection for attacking aircraft where the threat
is too great for the standoff systems. The analysis established the
capabilities of the EA- 6B upgraded with ICAP III as the foundation for
any future system. It presented the Navy and the Air Force with detailed
models of estimated costs and capabilities of 27 mixes of new and/ or
upgraded aircraft to consider for follow- on electronic attack
capabilities but did not

8 H. R Conf. Rep. No. 106- 301 at 625 (1999). DOD Has Made Little

Progress in Establishing a Coordinating Entity and Comprehensive Strategy
for the Suppression Mission

The Analysis of Alternatives Did Not Provide the Basis for a Comprehensive
Strategy for the Suppression Mission

Page 13 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

recommend any particular option. These options ranged in estimated 20-
year life cycle costs from $20 billion to $80 billion.

In conjunction with the analysis, the services formed a Joint Requirements
Coordination and Oversight Group to coordinate operational requirements
for airborne electronic attack, review ongoing and planned production
programs for the mission, and exchange information among the services to
avoid unnecessary duplication. A key activity of the group is to
coordinate Navy and Air Force proposals for replacing the EA- 6B.
According to group members, this mechanism will help address airborne
electronic attack needs through the coordination of complementary systems
agreed to by the services. In June 2002, the services presented their
proposals for follow- on capabilities to the Office of the Secretary of
Defense. According to the services, the Navy proposed to replace the EA-
6B with an electronic attack version of its new F/ A- 18E/ F fighter and
attack aircraft. The Air Force proposed adapting the B- 52H bomber for
standoff suppression by adding jamming pods to it, plus a stand- in
suppression capability provided by a MALD- type decoy with jamming
capabilities or an unmanned aerial vehicle equipped with jammers. The
services see these proposals as a coordinated, effective solution to the
near- and far- term needs for airborne electronic attack. DOD is currently
conducting an additional analysis of the proposals, and the Secretary will
decide later this year what proposals to include in the fiscal year 2004
budget submission.

The development of systems to replace the EA- 6B will help close the gap
between DOD*s suppression capabilities and needs. However, the service
proposals that are currently being considered by DOD do not provide an
integrated, comprehensive solution to the overall suppression needs. In
addition, while the Joint Requirements Coordination and Oversight Group
provides a mechanism to coordinate the services* efforts, it has not been
directed to develop a comprehensive strategy and monitor its
implementation.

Other assessments have also pointed to the lack of a coordinated approach
to addressing the gap in air suppression capabilities. At DOD*s request,
the Institute for Defense Analyses studied problems in acquiring
electronic warfare systems. The Institute found several causes for the
problems, including uncertainties in characterizing rapidly changing
threats and systems requirements, lack of adequate and stable funding,
complexity of electronic warfare hardware and software, challenges in
integrating the hardware and software on platforms, and difficulties in
getting and keeping experienced electronic warfare personnel. Among other
things, the Institute recommended that DOD establish central offices

Page 14 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

for electronic warfare matters in the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in each
service, create a senior oversight panel, and prepare an annual electronic
warfare roadmap to help correct some of the problems DOD faces in
electronic warfare acquisition programs.

While DOD has not established a coordinating entity to provide leadership
for the suppression mission, it has recognized the need for such entities
in other cross- service initiatives areas such as the development and
fielding of unmanned aerial vehicles. In October 2001, the Under Secretary
of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics established a joint
unmanned aerial vehicles planning task force that will develop and
coordinate road maps, recommend priorities for development and procurement
efforts, and prepare implementing guidance to the services on common
programs and functions.

The air defense suppression mission continues to be essential for
maintaining air superiority. Over the past several years, however, the
quantity and quality of the services* suppression equipment have declined
while enemy air defense tactics and equipment have improved. DOD has
recognized a gap exists in suppression capabilities but has made little
progress in closing it. In our view, progress in improving capabilities
has been hampered by the lack of a comprehensive strategy, cross- service
coordination, and funding commitments that address the overall suppression
needs. DOD relies on individual service programs to fill the void, but
these programs have not historically received a high priority, resulting
in the now existing capability gap. We continue to believe that a formal
coordinating entity needs to be established to bring the services together
to develop an integrated, cost- effective strategy for addressing overall
joint air defense suppression needs. A strategy is needed to identify
mission objectives and guide efforts to develop effective and integrated
solutions for improving suppression capabilities.

To close the gap between enemy air defense suppression needs and
capabilities, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense establish a
coordinating entity and joint comprehensive strategy to address the gaps
that need to be filled in the enemy air defense suppression mission. The
strategy should provide the means to identify and prioritize promising
technologies, determine the funding, time frames, and responsibilities
needed to develop and acquire systems, and establish evaluation mechanisms
to track progress in achieving objectives. Conclusions

Recommendations for Executive Action

Page 15 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

In written comments to a draft of this report, DOD concurred with our
recommendations and supported the need for a mechanism to coordinate
electronic warfare strategy and systems acquisition. DOD stated that the
Office of the Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics)
is currently restructuring its staff to address cross- cutting issues,
including the creation of an Assistant Director of Systems Integration for
Electronic Warfare and an Integrated Product Team process to formulate a
comprehensive approach to the electronic warfare mission area, including
defense suppression. We believe this is a good step forward.

DOD also stated that we were overly critical in our characterization of
individual defense suppression systems and failed to acknowledge its full
range of capabilities to suppress air defenses. We recognize that the
services have substantial capabilities but remain concerned because there
are insufficient aircraft to meet overall requirements and improvements
have not kept pace with evolving threats. Several service- specific
attempts have been made to remedy the acknowledged gap in capabilities,
but they have faltered in competition for funding. In some cases, Congress
intervened with guidance and increases to services* budget requests for
defense suppression to ensure that DOD addresses the capabilities gap. We
believe that creation of a comprehensive strategy and effective
coordinating entity would strengthen DOD*s ability to compete for funding
and address the gap.

DOD*s comments are reprinted in appendix II. In addition, DOD provided
technical comments that we incorporated into the report where appropriate.

To assess the condition of DOD*s suppression capabilities and DOD*s
progress in developing a strategy for closing the gap in suppression
capabilities, we interviewed Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint
Chiefs of Staff, Defense Advanced Research Program Agency, Air Force,
Army, Navy, and Marine Corps officials responsible for electronic warfare
requirements and programs. We also interviewed service program managers
for the EA- 6B, EC- 130, F- 16CJ, HARM, aircraft self- protection systems,
and programs under development. We also met with officials from selected
EA- 6B squadrons and an EA- 6B maintenance depot. We interviewed Defense
Intelligence Agency officials and reviewed related intelligence documents
to ascertain the capabilities of current and future enemy air defense
systems. We also discussed air defense suppression programs and issues
with various DOD contractors, including RAND Corporation, Northrup-
Grumman Corporation, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Incorporated,
and Raytheon Systems Company. We Agency Comments

and Our Evaluation Scope and Methodology

Page 16 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

reviewed pertinent DOD, service, and contractor documents addressing the
status of suppression capabilities, plans for maintaining them, and
potential solutions for closing the gap in capabilities. Specific
locations we visited are listed in appendix I.

We performed our review from October 2001 through August 2002 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

As you know, the head of a federal agency is required under 31 U. S. C.
720 to submit a written statement of actions taken on our recommendations
to the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on
Government Reform not later than 60 days after the date of the report and
to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations with the agency*s
first request for appropriations made more than 60 days after the date of
the report.

We are sending copies of this report to the Secretaries of the Army, Air
Force, and Navy; the Commandant of the Marine Corps; and interested
congressional committees. We will also make copies available to others on
request. In addition, the report will be available at no charge on the GAO
Web site at http:// www. gao. gov.

If you or your staff have any questions, please contact me on (202) 512-
4841. Major contributors to this report were Michael Aiken, Gaines
Hensley, John Oppenheim, Terry Parker, Robert Pelletier, and Robert
Swierczek.

Sincerely yours, R. E. Levin Director, Acquisition

and Sourcing Management

Appendix I: Locations Visited during This Review

Page 17 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington, D. C. Joint Chiefs of
Staff, Washington, D. C. Headquarters Elements, Air Force, Army, Marine
Corps, and Navy, Washington, D. C.

Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, D. C. Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency, Arlington, Virginia U. S. Joint Forces Command, Norfolk,
Virginia RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California Air Combat Command,
Langley Air Force Base, Virginia Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent
River, Maryland U. S. Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright
Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio

U. S Air Force Air Warfare Center, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada 11th and
15th Reconnaissance Squadrons, Indian Springs Air Force Base, Nevada

Headquarters, Pacific Fleet, North Island Naval Air Station, San Diego,
California

Naval Aviation Depot, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington
Electronic Attack Wing, U. S. Pacific Fleet, Naval Air Station Whidbey,
Island, Washington

Northrop Grumman Corporation, San Diego, California General Atomics
Aeronautical Systems, Incorporated, San Diego, California

Raytheon Systems Company, Goleta, California Appendix I: Locations Visited
during This

Review

Appendix II: Comments from the Department of Defense

Page 18 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare

Appendix II: Comments from the Department of Defense

Appendix II: Comments from the Department of Defense

Page 19 GAO- 03- 51 Electronic Warfare (120169)

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