Tactical Intelligence: Army's Mohawk Surveillance Radar Program Restructure

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-05-11.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)


_-___-__ _---__.
              _.            1Jnit~d States   (k~neral   Accounting   OfTice
                            Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee .
GAO                     -   on Procurement and Military Nuclear
                            Systems, Committee on Armed Services,
                            fIouse of’ Representatives

                            Army’s Mohawk
                            Surveillance Radar
                            Program Restructure



GhO/NSIAIMbI       56

                   United States
GAO                General Accounting  Office
                   Washington, D.C. 20548

                   National Security and
                   International Affairs Division


                   May II,1990

                   The Honorable Les Aspin
                   Chairman, Subcommittee on Procurement
                     and Military Nuclear Systems
                   Committee on Armed Services
                   House of Representatives

                   Dear Mr. Chairman:

                   As requested, we reviewed the Army Mohawk surveillance system’s
                   (1) cost, (2) phase-out schedule, (3) planned upgrade, (4) alternatives to
                   the upgrade, and (6) the status of other moving target surveillance sys-
                   tems. Although the Army recently terminated the planned upgrade, we
                   are reporting the results of our analysis in case the schedules for other
                   planned moving target surveillance systems slip and the Army reconsid-
                   ers the Mohawk upgrade to cover the capability gap.

                   The Army requires a capability to track moving targets, provide their
Background         direction and speed, and to classify the targets as tracked or wheeled
                   vehicles. A primary need for these capabilities is to provide targeting
                   accuracies necessary for deep attack weapons, such as the Army Tacti-
                   cal Missile System. The Mohawk is the Army’s only system providing
                   moving target indicator (MTI) information on enemy force movements.

                   Mohawk employs OV-1D aircraft that were first fielded in 1959. It is a
                   fixed wing, two passenger, twin engine, combat aircraft that uses a side
                   looking radar to detect and report movement of enemy forces. The
                   Mohawk system consists of 94 aircraft and 58 radars worldwide in
                   active and reserve military intelligence battalions.

                   The Army had originally planned to retire the Mohawk fleet by the mid-
                   to-late 1990s because the system was becoming old and difficult to sup-
                   port. Due to slippage in systems slated to replace Mohawk, the Army
                   initiated upgrade and overhaul programs in 1986 to sustain Mohawk
                   operation until 2006.

                   In 1986, the Army initiated two programs to sustain Mohawk operations
Results in Brief
              v    through the year 2006. These were (1) an upgrade program for 34 air-
                   craft and 38 radars at an estimated cost of $224.4 million and (2) an
                   aircraft overhaul and restoration program at an estimated cost of

                   Page 1                           GAO/NSIAD-90-156   Mohawk   Surveillance   Radar Program

                  $89 million. However, due to budgetary constraints, in January 1990,
                  the Army (1) terminated the upgrade program, (2) curtailed the over-
                  haul and restoration program for the last 29 aircraft, and (3) decided to
                  phase-out Mohawk in 1997.

                  Because Mohawk’s upgrade and operation costs to the year 2005 were
                  projected to exceed $1 billion, we examined less expensive alternatives
                  to improving and maintaining Mohawk. Based on our review, we identi-
                  fied aircraft and radars that could potentially provide better capabilities
                  at less cost in the same time frame as the upgraded Mohawk. The
                  Army’s January 1990 program changes eliminated the need for consid-
                  eration of Mohawk alternatives at this time. However, if other planned
                  follow-on systems slip and create a surveillance capability gap, the
                  Army may consider the Mohawk upgrade again in the future.

                  The Army initiated a $224.4 million Multi Stage Improvement Program
Mohawk Upgrade    in 1986 to upgrade the avionics and engines of 34 aircraft and eliminate
Program Changes   logistically insupportable components of 38 radars. As of January 1990,
                  the Army had spent or obligated about $31 million. The upgraded
                  Mohawks were to be delivered between fiscal years 1990 and 1996. The
                  Army also planned to phase out all nonupgraded aircraft and radars by
                  1997, and use the 34 upgraded Mohawks in Europe and Korea until the
                  year 2005.

                  The Army awarded two Mohawk aircraft upgrade contracts, one in 1986
                  for a prototype and the other in 1989 for a preproduction model of the
                  upgraded Mohawk aircraft. Together, these contracts totaled about
                  $36.1 million. In February 1990, the contracts were closed out after
                  about $20.5 million had been obligated on the prototype aircraft. No
                  funds were spent on the 1989 contract before termination.

                  To initiate the radar upgrade, the Army awarded a $10.5 million con-
                  tract in December 1989 to develop and produce three upgraded radar
                  models. This entire amount has been obligated. The Army planned to
                  upgrade 35 additional radars under contract options. This would pro-
                  vide one radar for each of the upgraded aircraft as well as four spare

                  In January 1990, the Army decided to cut future funding for the aircraft
                  and radar upgrade. This included $22 million in funds to upgrade the 35
                  additional radars, However, the Army did not terminate the contract to
                  develop and produce the three upgraded models. According to Army

                  Page 2                        GAO/NSIAD-90-166   Mohawk   Surveillance   Radar Program

                         officials, the Army wants to have the developmental models available in
                         case the MTI capability gap lengthens and additional radar upgrades are

                         In addition to the upgrade, in 1986, the Army initiated an aircraft over-
Aircraft Overhaul        haul and restoration program for 111 aircraft, including 16 non-Mohawk
Program Changes          aircraft used for electronic intelligence gathering. The overhaul and res-
                         toration program was to cost $89 million, of which $60 million was
                         spent through December 1989 to overhaul 67 early model aircraft. In
                         1990, the Army plans to award a $12 million contract to overhaul 15
                         additional early model aircraft. The Army has dropped plans to over-
                         haul the 29 remaining aircraft, which were newer models, resulting in an
                         estimated savings of $17 million.

                         Prior to the Army’s decision to delete funding for the Mohawk upgrade
Our Assessmentof         and overhaul, we evaluated alternatives to upgrading Mohawk. Our
Potential Alternatives   review indicated that a modified off-the-shelf alternative to the
                         upgraded Mohawk would have been (1) less costly, (2) better perform-
                         ing, and (3) available within the same time frame. Based on our evalua-
                         tion, the Mohawk life-cycle cost estimates used by the Army were
                         incomplete and understated the cost of operating the Mohawk fleet.

                         Our analysis indicated that the Army could have saved over $140 mil-
                         lion through the year 2005 by purchasing a system employing modified
                         off-the-shelf aircraft and radars rather than pursuing the Mohawk

                         Our comparison with the upgraded Mohawk indicated that the off- the-
                         shelf alternative would have (1) required fewer aircraft because of the
                         longer flight endurance of modern aircraft and (2) better met Army
                         ground moving target surveillance, tracking, and targeting requirements
                         than the improved Mohawk. The improved range, location accuracies,
                         and tracking capabilities of modern radars could better support target-
                         ing requirements for weapons such as the Multiple Launch Rocket and
                         Army Tactical Missile Systems. Information available indicates the
                         alternative system could have been fielded beginning in the mid-1990s.

                         The Army’s 1987 and 1988 analysis of MTI options, both which recom-
                         mended improving Mohawk, were not valid because relevant informa-
                         tion was not included. For example, the Army’s 1987 study omitted
                         critical cost data, such as operations and support costs, which are much

                         Page 3                       GAO/NSIAD-90-166   Mohawk   Surveillance   Radar Program

                           higher for Mohawk than the alternative systems. The 1988 study (1) did
                           not consider an alternative radar, (2) doubled the flying hours required
                           of the alternative aircraft, and (3) excluded key costs, such as aircraft
                           fuel and radar operating costs after the year 2000, which were substan-
                           tially lower for alternative systems.

                           The Army’s plan to retire Mohawk by 1997 voided the need for further
                           consideration of this modified off-the-shelf alternative. However,
                           according to Army officials, the Army may again consider an upgrade
                           program or other alternatives to providing MTI capability should the
                           follow-on surveillance systems be delayed. If that occurs, the less expen-
                           sive, more capable, alternatives would also need to be considered.

                           The Army plans to use several systems under development to provide
Follow-On MT1              MTI capabilities when Mohawk is retired in 1997. These systems include
Systems                    the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS),
                           unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) with an MTI sensor, and potentially, an
                           aerial common sensor system that could provide MTI data for multiple

                           The purpose of JSTARS,a joint Army and Air Force program, is to detect
JSTARS                     and locate moving and fixed targets deep in enemy territory and provide
                           greater MTI surveillance coverage and targeting capability than Mohawk.
                           JSTARSconsists of 22 aircraft and 97 mobile ground stations and will cost
                           an estimated $8 billion to acquire. JSTARSwas initially scheduled to pro-
                           vide MTI capability about 1990, but because of technical problems and
                           testing delays, initial operational capability is now scheduled for 1997.

UAVs With MT1 Capability   In 1994, the Army plans to buy a short-range UAVthat will provide day
                           and night surveillance coverage. The Army has a requirement to add MTI
                           identification capabilities to UAVSin the future. UAVSwill augment JSTARS
                           by providing surveillance information in areas that JSTARSwill not cover.
                           In 1992, the Army intends to begin development of improved sensor
                           payloads for the short-range IJAV,which may include an MTI sensor.

Aerial Common Sensor       The Army’s long-range conceptual plans include potentially placing sev-
                           eral intelligence gathering sensors with a suite of common sensors. This

                           Page 4                       GAO/NSIAD-90-166   Mohawk   Surveillance   Radar Program

                           system will be the Army’s multipurpose airborne electronic mission sys-
                           tem beyond the year 2000, and could include MTI functions, communica-
                           tions and electronic signals intelligence, and electronic warfare

                           A gap in Army MTI capabilities will occur because Mohawk is scheduled
    MT1 Gap May Be         to be fully retired by 1997, the same year JSTARSis to begin operations.
    Longer Than Expected   This gap results because, although JSTARSis scheduled to begin opera-
                           tions in 1997, it will take several more years before it is fully opera-
                           tional worldwide. According to Army officials, the Army is prepared to
                           absorb this risk until JSTARSbecomes fully operational, provided no fur-
                           ther slippage occurs.

                           However, JSTARS'initial operational capability date could potentially be
                           delayed beyond 1997. Delays could occur because of the potential for
                           development, testing, or funding problems. Army officials said that if
                           JSTARSis delayed, the Army will review other alternatives for providing
                           MTI coverage until JSTARSbecomes operational. The alternatives dis-
                           cussed included less Mohawk flying hours to prolong aircraft life, re-
                           initiating the Mohawk upgrade program, or the potential use of technol-
                           ogies now under development.

                           We interviewed Army officials and contractor representatives and
    Scopeand               reviewed documents to assess (1) the Army’s current plans to upgrade
    Methodology            the Mohawk aircraft and its radar, (2) the procurement, testing, and
                           modification of an off-the-shelf alternative source of MTI data, and
                           (3) the status of follow-on MTI systems. We reviewed Army evaluations
                           of Mohawk supportability issues, documents justifying the need for the
                           Mohawk improvements, and studies examining other potential MTI

                           Our work was done primarily at Army’s Aviation Systems Command, St.
                           Louis, Missouri; Communications and Electronics Command, Fort Mon-
                           mouth, New Jersey; and the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for
                           Operations and Plans, Washington, D.C. We also contacted the Depart-
                           ment of the Army Audit Agency, Alexandria, Virginia, and met with
                           various aircraft and radar contractors.

                           Our review was performed from August 1988 to January 1990 in accor-
                           dance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

                           Page 6                       GAO/NSLo-166    Mohawk   Surveillance   Radar Program

Unless you publicly announce its contents earlier, we plan no further
distribution of this report until 30 days from the date of this letter. At
that time, we will send copies to the Secretaries of Defense, Army, and
Air Force and make copies available to others upon request.

Please contact me at (202) 275-4841 if you or your staff have any ques-
tions concerning the report. Other major contributors to this report are
listed in appendix I.

Louis J. Rodrigues
Director, Command, Control, Communications,
  and Intelligence Issues

Page 6                        GAO/NSIAD-SO-166   Mohawk   Surveillance   Radar Program



            Page 7   GAO/NSIAD-90-156   Mohawk   Surveillance   Radar Program
Appendix I

Major Contributors to This Report

National Security and   Edward J. George, Assignment Manager
International Affairs
Division, Washington,

New York Regional       Robert G. Perasso, Evaluator-in-Charge
Office                  Joseph C. Galanthay, Evaluator

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