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Electronic Warfare: Option of Upgrading Additional EA-6Bs Could Reduce Risk in Development of EA-18G


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The EA-6B has conducted airborne electronic attack for all services since 1996. In 2002, the Department of Defense (DOD) completed an analysis of alternatives for the EA6B that concluded the inventory would be insufficient to meet the DODs needs beyond 2009. Since then, the services have embarked on separate acquisition efforts to develop airborne electronic attack assets. In 2003, the Navy started development of the EA-18G aircraft to replace the EA-6B. This report was done under the Comptroller Generals authority and assesses if (1) DODs 2002 conclusion that the EA-6B inventory would be insufficient beyond 2009 remains valid for assessing the Navys future needs, and (2) the acquisition approach used to develop the EA-18G is knowledge-based and might mitigate future risks. GAO recommends that DOD determine how many EA-6Bs with upgraded electronic suites are needed to deal with the existing and near-term capability gap, and consider procuring them. If DOD does this, it should cancel plans to end the electronic suite production line after 2006. If DOD outfits more EA-6Bs with upgraded electronic suites, it should restructure its EA18G low-rate initial production plans so that procurement occurs after the aircraft demonstrates it is fully functional. DOD partially concurred with our recommendations.



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