Electronic Warfare

Army Special Operations Acquisition Strategy for Improved Equipment Is Sound Gao ID: NSIAD-99-189 August 23, 1999

The Army uses modified Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters for special operations missions worldwide. These aircraft carry a wide variety of aircraft survivability equipment to deal with enemy threats. This report reviews the U.S. Special Operations Command's acquisition strategy for aircraft electronic warfare systems. GAO focuses on helicopters operated by the Command's Army component. GAO determines the soundness of the Command's electronic warfare acquisition strategy in terms of correcting shortcomings and maximizing commonality in its aircraft survivability equipment.

GAO noted that: (1) the Army Special Operations Command's electronic warfare acquisition strategy is sound because it focuses on upgrading or replacing aircraft survivability equipment that is operationally deficient and may be unable to defeat future threat systems and leverages ongoing regular Army programs to maximize commonality with regular Army aircraft; (2) for example, because the Command's aircraft are highly vulnerable to modern infrared and radar-guided missile threats, the Command plans to procure, as a common item, the Army's most advanced aircraft survivability equipment, the Suite of Integrated Radio Frequency Countermeasures and the Suite of Integrated Infrared Countermeasures, when that equipment is ready; (3) moreover, maximizing commonality with the regular Army's equipment enables the Command to satisfy special operations peculiar requirements through optimal use of its limited Major Force Program 11 budget; and (4) for example, the Command is procuring some special operations peculiar system upgrades with Major Force Program 11 funding to provide an improved interim capability until the two Army common suites are ready to be fielded.

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