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Navy using 'fuzz-buster' radar warning devices

WASHINGTON -- The Navy has used expensively modified 'fuzz-buster' highway radar warning devices to help overcome shortcomings in the $500,000 models in their jet fighters, the General Accounting Office says.

By not pooling development and procurement efforts for radar warning devices, the Navy and Air Force have reduced their combat readiness and added millions of dollars to their costs, GAO witnesses said a Tuesday hearing of a House Government Operations subcommittee.

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The GAO witnesses also said in one case the Navy installed receivers the service considered unreliable and not maintainable, and the Air Force once bought a new model worse than the one it was to replace.

A subcommittee staff member also said the panel was told by Navy pilots that the Navy has bought commercial radar detectors, similar to ones popularly called 'fuzz-busters' and used by motorists, and performed $2,500 in modifications to the $180 units so they can be used in F-14A, A-6E and A-7E jets to overcome limitations of a $500,000 radar warning receiver.

Subcommittee Chairman Jack Brooks, D-Texas, called the problem 'service parochialism at its worst,' noting the two services have 13 different radar warning receiver systems in use or being bought for fighters, at a program cost expected to hit $6.6 billion.

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The receivers warn pilots they have been targeted by a radar transmitter, enabling them to start manuevering and jamming the enemy signal.

Assistant Defense Secretary Donald Latham testified the two services justify doing both testing and installation work because of an urgent need to cope with newly identified enemy developments in technology.

But he rejected a GAO suggestion that the Pentagon pick a single receiver for use on existing planes and stop programs that are not cost effective, saying it would be a mistake, becuse different combat aircraft require differnt equipment configurations.

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