(During the Kosovo campaign the Americans were very keen on German EW
Tornado aircrafts as they lacked EW equipment. According to GAO the US
military has still not beefed up their EW capabilities. The GAO report
is not bad, but it does not take into account other problems
(operational procedures, ...) which also hinder mission success. WEN)
Electronic Warfare: Comprehensive Strategy Still Needed for Suppressing
Enemy Air Defenses.
GAO-03-51, November 25
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
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.
... In conducting military operations, U.S. aircraft are often at great
risk from enemy air defenses, such as surface-to-air missiles. The
specialized aircraft to neutralize, destroy, or temporarily degrade
air defense systems through either electronic warfare or physical
... According to DOD, countries have sought to make their air defenses
resistant to suppression. ...
... 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. ...
... Since our January 2001 report,5 the services have had some success
improving their suppression capabilities, but they have not reached a
needed to counter future threats. ...
... 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
F-16CJ still lacks some of the capabilities of the retired F-4G. ...
... The services have already identified serious reliability problems
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
services estimate. ...
... The services have initiated additional research and development
efforts to improve their ability to suppress enemy air defenses, but
technology challenges and/or a lack of funding priority for many of
... 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
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
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
formal coordinating entity needs to be established to bring the services
together to develop an integrated, cost-effective strategy for
overall joint air defense suppression needs. A strategy is needed to
identify mission objectives and guide efforts to develop effective and
integratedsolutions for improving suppression capabilities. ...
Recommendations for Executive Action
... 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. ...
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