================================================================ COVER

Report to the Honorable
Patrick Kennedy, House of Representatives

November 1998



Special Operations Forces


=============================================================== ABBREV

  AFSOC - Air Force Special Operations Command
  CAAP - Common Avionics Architecture for Penetration
  DOD - Department of Defense
  MFP - major force program
  MOA - memoranda of agreement
  USSOCOM - U.S.  Special Operations Command
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=============================================================== LETTER


November 13, 1998

The Honorable Patrick Kennedy
House of Representatives

Dear Mr.  Kennedy: 

In response to your concern that threats to the U.S.  Special
Operations Command's (USSOCOM) aircraft are increasing, while funds
available for electronic warfare are decreasing, we are reviewing
USSOCOM's acquisition strategy for aircraft electronic warfare
systems.  This report focuses on fixed-wing C-130 aircraft operated
by USSOCOM's Air Force component, the Air Force Special Operations
Command (AFSOC).  As you requested, we determined (1) the soundness
of AFSOC's electronic warfare acquisition strategy and (2) the extent
to which AFSOC is correcting deficiencies and maximizing commonality
in its electronic warfare systems.  We also identified a funding
source that could help AFSOC further implement its electronic warfare
acquisition strategy.  We will address USSOCOM's rotary-wing aircraft
in a separate report. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1

The nation's special operations forces provide the National Command
Authorities a highly trained, rapidly deployable joint force capable
of conducting special operations anywhere in the world.\1 In November
1986, Congress enacted section 1311 of Public Law 99-661, which
directed the President to establish USSOCOM, a unified combatant
command to ensure that special operations forces were combat ready
and prepared to conduct specified missions.  USSOCOM's component
commands include AFSOC, the Army Special Operations Command, the
Naval Special Warfare Command, and the Joint Special Operations
Command.  AFSOC, located at Hurlburt Field, Florida, deploys and
supports special operations forces worldwide. 

To ensure that special operations were adequately funded, Congress
further provided in section 1311 of Public Law 99-661 that the
Department of Defense create for the special operations forces a
major force program (MFP) category for the Future Years Defense Plan
of the Department of Defense.  Known as MFP-11, this is the vehicle
to request funding for the development and acquisition of special
operations-peculiar equipment, materials, supplies, and services. 
The services remain responsible under
10 U.S.C.  section 165 for providing those items that are not special

Since Operation Desert Storm, AFSOC's threat environment has become
more complex and potentially more lethal.  More sophisticated threat
systems, both naval and land-based, have been fielded, and the
systems are proliferating to more and more countries.  Even nations
without complex integrated air defense systems have demonstrated the
capability to inflict casualties on technologically superior
opponents.  According to threat documents, worldwide proliferation of
relatively inexpensive, heat-seeking missiles is dramatically
increasing the risk associated with providing airlift support in
remote, poorly developed countries.  Increased passive detection
system use is also expected throughout lesser developed countries. 
Passive detection allows the enemy to detect incoming aircraft
without alerting the crew that they have been detected, thereby
jeopardizing operations.  Finally, commercially available,
second-generation night vision devices, when linked with warfighter
portable air defense systems (e.g., shoulder-fired missiles), provide
these countries with a night air defense capability.  This night air
defense capability is significant because AFSOC aircrews have
historically relied on darkness to avoid detection. 

AFSOC aircraft carry a wide variety of electronic warfare systems to
deal with enemy threat systems.  Some of AFSOC's systems are common
with systems used by the regular Air Force, while others are unique
to special operations.  Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) between USSOCOM
and the military services lay out specifically the areas of support
the services agree to undertake in support of the special forces.  An
MOA, dated
September 16, 1989, and one of its accompanying annexes, dated
February 22, 1990, entered into between the Air Force and USSOCOM
list those items and services the Air Force agrees to fund in support
of AFSOC's special operations mission.  This list includes
modifications common to both AFSOC and regular Air Force aircraft,
and electronics and telecommunications that are in common usage. 
Part of AFSOC's electronic warfare equipment for fixed-wing aircraft
is acquired with USSOCOM MFP-11 funds as special operations-peculiar
items because the Air Force historically has employed very little
electronic warfare equipment on its C-130s. 

\1 Special Operations are operations conducted to achieve military,
political, economic, or psychological objectives by nonconventional
military means in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive areas. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2

AFSOC's electronic warfare acquisition strategy is sound because it
is based on eliminating operational and supportability deficiencies
confirmed by an Air Force study, test reports, and maintenance
records.  This evidence indicates that AFSOC's current electronic
warfare systems are unable to defeat many current threat systems and
have supportability problems.  AFSOC's acquisition strategy is to
procure a mix of new systems and upgrades for older ones while
maximizing commonality within its fleet of C-130s. 

Amidst budget constraints, USSOCOM is funding only portions of
AFSOC's acquisition strategy due to other higher budget priorities,
thereby hampering AFSOC's efforts to correct deficiencies and
maximize commonality in electronic warfare systems.  For example,
although USSOCOM is funding an AFSOC effort to make C-130 aircraft
less susceptible to passive detection, enhance aircrews' situational
awareness, and increase commonality, it has rejected other requests
to fund effectiveness and commonality improvements to systems dealing
with radar- and infrared-guided missiles.  As a result, in the
foreseeable future, deficiencies will continue, and AFSOC will have
to operate and maintain older and upgraded electronic warfare systems

An opportunity exists, however, to help AFSOC implement its
electronic warfare acquisition strategy.  Since AFSOC's acquisition
strategy was adopted, the Air Force has decided to begin a-$4.3
billion C-130 modernization program (C-130X program) for all C-130s. 
Some of the planned elements of this modernization are common with
some of the elements of AFSOC's acquisition strategy that was to be
funded by USSOCOM's MFP-11 funds.  If, as required by the MOA, the
Air Force C-130 avionics modernization program funds these common
elements, USSOCOM could redirect significant portions of its MFP-11
funding currently budgeted for AFSOC C-130 passive detection and
situational awareness deficiencies to other unfunded portions of
AFSOC's electronic warfare acquisition strategy. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3

AFSOC's acquisition strategy for electronic warfare equipment is
contained within AFSOC's Technology Roadmap.  The Technology Roadmap
identifies and ranks operational deficiencies and links the
deficiencies to material solutions.  The Roadmap flows out of AFSOC's
mission area plans for mobility, precision engagement/strike, forward
presence and engagement, and information operations.  For C-130s, the
Roadmap indicates that AFSOC has serious electronic warfare
operational deficiencies in several areas and identifies solutions
for each of these operational deficiencies.  These solutions include
introducing a mix of new systems and making upgrades to older systems
(See app.  II for descriptions of AFSOC's C-130 aircraft.) AFSOC's
acquisition strategy is sound because it is based on eliminating
operational and supportability deficiencies confirmed by an Air Force
study, test reports, and maintenance records. 

According to AFSOC officials responsible for electronic warfare
acquisition, AFSOC's C-130s are most vulnerable to three types of
threat systems:  (1) infrared missiles, (2) passive detectors, and
(3) radar-guided missiles.\2 These deficiencies have become more
critical since Operation Desert Storm in 1991 as more sophisticated
threats have been developed and spread to more areas of the world. 

An ongoing Air Force Chief of Staff directed study, the Electronic
Warfare Operational Shortfalls Study, confirms what AFSOC officials
maintain.  This study found that there are many electronic
warfare-related operational deficiencies within the overall Air
Force, including the C-130 community.  The study identified
deficiencies with missile warning system missile launch indications
and warning times, infrared expendables and jamming effectiveness,
signature reduction, passive detection, situational awareness, and
electronic warfare support equipment.  Classified test reports and
threat documentation corroborate the study's findings.  According to
Air Force officials, electronic warfare deficiencies within Air Force
components, including AFSOC, are so extensive that the solutions
necessary to correct all of them are not affordable within the
framework of Air Force fiscal year 2000-2005 projected budgets. 

AFSOC's aging electronic warfare systems are also failing more often
and requiring more staff hours to support.  According to AFSOC's
Technology Roadmap and maintenance records, all AFSOC electronic
warfare systems have some supportability problems.  AFSOC maintenance
personnel told us that they are working more hours to repair the
systems, and maintenance records show that system failures are
becoming more frequent.  The ALQ-172(v)1 high band radar jammer in
particular is problematic, requiring more staff hours for maintenance
than any other AFSOC electronic warfare system.  The staff hours
charged for maintaining the ALQ-172(v)1 represent 34 percent of the
total time charged to maintaining all electronic warfare systems from
1995 through 1997. 

\2 Infrared missiles detect aircraft from the heat aircraft emit. 
Passive detectors detect aircraft by intercepting electronic signals
emitted by onboard systems, such as radar or radios.  Radar-guided
missiles actively emit electronic signals and receive reflections
that reveal an aircraft's position. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4

AFSOC has made several efforts to correct deficiencies and maximize
commonality in electronic warfare systems.  USSOCOM is funding the
Common Avionics Architecture for Penetration (CAAP) program, which is
designed to make AFSOC's C-130 aircraft less susceptible to passive
detection, enhance the aircrews' situational awareness, lower support
costs, and improve commonality.  AFSOC has sought to begin several
other efforts in the past several years, as well, but USSOCOM has
rejected these requests.  In addition to addressing deficiencies
identified in the Technology Roadmap, AFSOC is trying to improve
commonality among its electronic warfare systems by eliminating some
of those systems from its inventory.  For example, it is replacing
the ALR-56M radar warning receiver on its AC-130U Gunships with the
ALR-69 radar warning receiver already on the rest of its C-130s. 
AFSOC also planned to replace ALQ-131 radar jamming pods on its
AC-130H Gunships with a future upgraded ALQ-172(v)3 radar jammer for
its AC-130s and MC-130Hs.  Achieving commonality avoids duplicating
costs for system development, lowers unit production costs through
larger quantity buys, and simplifies logistical support. 

According to USSOCOM officials, in selecting what to fund they had to
determine which programs would maximize capability, including
sustainability, while conserving resources.  The USSOCOM officials
said that these decisions were difficult because although some
systems offer tremendous improvements in capabilities, they require
significant commitment of resources.  For instance, USSOCOM did not
have sufficient resources to fund both the CAAP program and the
ALQ-172(v)3 upgrade program to improve commonality and capability
against radar-guided missiles.  Additionally, AFSOC had planned to
replace its ALE-40 flare and chaff dispensers with the newer
programmable ALE-47 to improve protection against infrared-guided
missiles.  But, because of budget constraints, AFSOC will have to
keep the ALE-40 on two of its C-130 model aircraft while the other
models are upgraded to the ALE-47 configuration. 

Furthermore, in prioritizing resources for fiscal year 2000-2005,
USSOCOM is accepting increased operational and sustainment risks for
systems it does not anticipate being key in 2010 or beyond.  Under
this approach, USSOCOM is dividing AFSOC's C-130s into so-called
legacy and bridge aircraft.  The older legacy aircraft will receive
flight safety modifications but not all electronic warfare upgrades;
newer bridge aircraft will receive both.  As a result, the legacy
aircraft will become less common over time with the newer bridge
aircraft, even as they become more vulnerable to threats and more
difficult to maintain.  Because, according to AFSOC officials, the
legacy aircraft are planned to remain in service for 12 more years,
for the foreseeable future, AFSOC will have to operate and maintain
more types of electronic warfare systems. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5

Since AFSOC's electronic warfare acquisition strategy was adopted,
the Air Force has decided to fund a $4.3-billion Air Force-wide C-130
modernization program of all C-130s, including the special operations
fleet.  This avionics modernization program shares many common
elements with the USSOCOM CAAP program.  CAAP includes $247 million
of MFP-11 funds for upgrades/systems to address AFSOC's C-130
aircraft situational awareness and passive detection problems. 
Consistent with the provisions of title 10, the MOA requires that the
Air Force, rather than USSOCOM, fund common items.  Therefore, the
overlap between the two programs creates an opportunity for USSOCOM
to direct its MFP-11 funding from CAAP to other solutions identified
in AFSOC's Technology Roadmap instead of paying for items that will
be common to all Air Force C-130s. 

The Air Force is funding its avionics modernization program to lower
C-130 ownership costs by increasing the commonality and survivability
of the C-130 fleet.  Because USSOCOM designed CAAP independently of
and earlier than the Air Force modernization program, CAAP provides
funding for a number of items that are now planned to be included in
the Air Force program.  These include (1) an open systems
architecture, (2) upgraded displays and display generators, (3) a
computer processor to integrate electronic warfare systems, (4) a
digital map system, and (5) a replacement radar. 

USSOCOM and AFSOC officials note that these C-130 modernization
program items have the potential to satisfy CAAP requirements with
only minor modifications.  For example, AFSOC's estimates indicate
that the cost to develop and procure a new low-power navigation radar
with a terrain following/terrain avoidance feature as part of CAAP
would be approximately $133 million.  However, if the navigation
radar selected for the avionics modernization program incorporates or
has a growth path that will allow for the addition of a low-power
terrain following/terrain avoidance feature to satisfy CAAP
requirements, USSOCOM could avoid the significant development and
procurement costs of the common items.  According to Air Force,
USSOCOM and AFSOC officials, coordinating these two programs would
maximize C-130 commonality and could result in additional MFP-11
funding being available to meet other AFSOC electronic warfare

Consistent with the provisions of title 10, and as provided for in
the MOA between the Air Force and USSOCOM, the Air Force has included
the AFSOC C-130 fleet in its draft planning documents to upgrade the
C-130 avionics.  However, while the MOA requires the Air Force to pay
for common improvements incorporated into AFSOC's C-130, the Air
Force may not pay for special operations-peculiar requirements as
part of the common upgrade.  Nevertheless, the Air Force is not
otherwise precluded from selecting systems that can satisfy both the
Air Force's and AFSOC's requirements or which could be easily and/or
inexpensively upgraded by AFSOC to meet special operations-peculiar

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6

AFSOC has a sound electronic warfare acquisition strategy based on a
need to eliminate operational and supportability deficiencies while
maximizing commonality within its C-130 fleet.  Because of budget
constraints, however, USSOCOM funding decisions are undercutting
AFSOC's efforts to implement its Technology Roadmap.  An opportunity
now exists, however, to help free up some MFP-11 funds to permit
AFSOC to continue implementing its electronic warfare strategy as
outlined in the Technology Roadmap. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :7

We recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct the Secretary of
the Air Force in procuring common items for its C-130 avionics
modernization, to select items that, where feasible, address
USSOCOM's CAAP requirements or could be modified by USSOCOM to meet
those requirements.  We further recommend that the Secretary of
Defense direct USSOCOM to use any resulting MFP-11 funds budgeted for
but not spent on CAAP to address other electronic warfare
deficiencies or to expand the CAAP program to other special
operations forces aircraft. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :8

In comments on a draft of this report, the Department of Defense
(DOD) partially concurred with both recommendations.  With regard to
our first recommendation, DOD stated that Air Force and USSOCOM
requirements require harmonization in order to take advantage of
commonality and economies of scale.  DOD agreed to require the Air
Force and USSOCOM to document their common requirements.  While this
action is a step in the right direction, Office of the Secretary of
Defense-level direction may be necessary to ensure that appropriate
common items for USSOCOM are procured by the Air Force.  As for our
second recommendation, DOD officials stated that any MFP-11 funds
originally budgeted for CAAP but saved through commonality should be
used to address documented electronic warfare deficiencies or to
deploy CAAP on other special operations forces aircraft.  We agree
with DOD that savings to the CAAP program by using common items
should be used to address electronic warfare deficiencies or for
expansion of the CAAP program to other special operations forces
aircraft.  We have reworded our recommendation to reflect that
agreement.  DOD's comments are reprinted in appendix I. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :9

To assess the basis for AFSOC's strategy for acquiring and upgrading
electronic warfare equipment and determine the extent to which it
would address deficiencies and maximize commonality, we analyzed
AFSOC acquisition plans and studies and reviewed classified test
reports and threat documentation.  We also discussed AFSOC's current
electronic warfare systems and aircraft and AFSOC's planned
electronic warfare upgrades and system acquisition with officials at
USSOCOM, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida; AFSOC, Hurlburt Field,
Florida; and Air Force Headquarters, Washington, D.C.  Additionally,
we discussed AFSOC electronic warfare system supportability with
officials responsible for the systems at USSOCOM; AFSOC; and Warner
Robins Air Logistics Center, Georgia, and reviewed logistics records
for pertinent systems.  We accepted logistics records provided by
AFSOC as accurate without further validation. 

To identify alternative sources of funding to implement AFSOC's
strategy, we examined legislation establishing and affecting USSOCOM
and memoranda of agreement between USSOCOM and the Air Force
regarding research, development, acquisition, and sustainment
programs.  We discussed relevant memoranda of agreement with USSOCOM,
AFSOC, and Air Force officials.  Furthermore, we reviewed planning
documents and discussed the planned Air Force C-130 avionics
modernization program with Air Force officials at Air Force
Headquarters and the Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base,

We conducted our work from October 1997 through July 1998 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 

We will send copies of this report to interested congressional
committees; the Secretaries of Defense and the Air Force; the
Assistant Secretary of Defense, Office of Special Operations and
Low-Intensity Conflict; the Commander, U.S.  Special Operations
Command; the Director, Office of Management and Budget; and other
interested parties. 

Please contact me at (202) 512-4841 if you or your staff have any
questions.  Major contributors to this assignment were Tana Davis,
Charles Ward, and John Warren. 

Sincerely yours,

Louis J.  Rodrigues
Director, Defense Acquisitions Issues

(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix I
============================================================== Letter 

(See figure in printed edition.)

========================================================== Appendix II

The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) uses specially
modified and equipped variants of the C-130 Hercules aircraft to
conduct and support special operations missions worldwide.  Following
are descriptions of the C-130 models. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:1

Command:  AFSOC

Quantity:  8

Mission:  The AC-130H is a gunship with primary missions of close-air
support, air interdiction, and armed reconnaissance.  Additional
missions include perimeter and point defense, escort, landing, drop
and extraction zone support, forward air control, limited command and
control, and combat search and rescue. 

Special equipment/features:  These heavily armed aircraft incorporate
side-firing weapons integrated with sophisticated sensor, navigation,
and fire control systems to provide precision firepower or area
saturation during extended periods, at night, and in adverse weather. 
The sensor suite consists of a low-light level television sensor and
an infrared sensor.  Radar and electronic sensors also give the
gunship a method of positively identifying friendly ground forces and
deliver ordnance effectively during adverse weather conditions. 
Navigational devices include an inertial navigation system and global
positioning system. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:2

Command:  AFSOC

Quantity:  12

Mission:  The AC-130U's primary missions are nighttime, close-air
support for special operations and conventional ground forces; air
interdiction; armed reconnaissance; air base, perimeter, and point
defense; land, water, and heliborne troop escort; drop, landing, and
extraction zone support; forward air control; limited airborne
command and control; and combat search and rescue support. 

Special equipment/features:  The AC-130U has one 25-millimeter
Gatling gun, one 40-millimeter cannon, and one 105-millimeter cannon
for armament and is the newest addition to AFSOC's fleet.  This
heavily armed aircraft incorporates side-firing weapons integrated
with sophisticated sensor, navigation, and fire control systems to
provide firepower or area saturation at night and in adverse weather. 
The sensor suite consists of an all light level television system and
an infrared detection set.  A multi-mode strike radar provides
extreme long-range target detection and identification.  The fire
control system offers a dual target attack capability, whereby two
targets up to 1 kilometer apart can be simultaneously engaged by two
different sensors, using two different guns.  Navigational devices
include the inertial navigation system and global positioning system. 
The aircraft is pressurized, enabling it to fly at higher altitudes
and allowing for greater range than the AC-130H.  The AC-130U is also
refuelable.  Defensive systems include a countermeasures dispensing
system that releases chaff and flares to counter radar-guided and
infrared-guided anti-aircraft missiles.  Also infrared heat shields
mounted underneath the engines disperse and hide engine heat sources
from infrared-guided anti-aircraft missiles. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:3

Command:  Air National Guard

Quantity:  5

Mission:  EC-130E Commando Solo, the Air Force's only airborne radio
and television broadcast mission, is assigned to the 193rd Special
Operations Wing, the only Air National Guard unit assigned to AFSOC. 
Commando Solo conducts psychological operations and civil affairs
broadcasts.  The EC-130E flies during either day or night scenarios
and is air refuelable.  Commando Solo provides an airborne broadcast
platform for virtually any contingency, including state or national
disasters or other emergencies.  Secondary missions include command
and control communications countermeasures and limited intelligence

Special equipment/features:  Highly specialized modifications include
enhanced navigation systems, self-protection equipment, and the
capability to broadcast color television on a multitude of worldwide

-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:4

Commands:  AFSOC, Air Force Reserve, and Air Education and Training

Quantity:  14 Combat Talon Is, 24 Combat Talon IIs

Mission:  The mission of the Combat Talon I/II is to provide global,
day, night, and adverse weather capability to airdrop and airland
personnel and equipment in support of U.S.  and allied special
operations forces.  The MC-130E also has a deep penetrating
helicopter refueling role during special operations missions. 

Special equipment/features:  These aircraft are equipped with
in-flight refueling equipment, terrain-following/terrain-avoidance
radar, an inertial and global positioning satellite navigation
system, and a high-speed aerial delivery system.  The special
navigation and aerial delivery systems are used to locate small drop
zones and deliver people or equipment with greater accuracy and at
higher speeds than possible with a standard C-130.  The aircraft is
able to penetrate hostile airspace at low altitudes and crews are
specially trained in night and adverse weather operations. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:5

Commands:  Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Education and
Training Command, and Air Force Reserve

Quantity:  28

Mission:  The MC-130P Combat Shadow flies clandestine or low
visibility, low-level missions into politically sensitive or hostile
territory to provide air refueling for special operations
helicopters.  The MC-130P primarily flies its single- or multi-ship
missions at night to reduce detection and intercept by airborne
threats.  Secondary mission capabilities include airdrop of small
special operations teams, small bundles, and rubber raiding craft;
night-vision goggle takeoffs and landings; and tactical airborne
radar approaches. 

Special equipment/features:  When modifications are complete in
fiscal year 1999, all MC-130P aircraft will feature improved
navigation, communications, threat detection, and countermeasures
systems.  When fully modified, the Combat Shadow will have a fully
integrated inertial navigation and global positioning system, and
night-vision goggle-compatible interior and exterior lighting.  It
will also have a forward-looking infrared radar, missile and radar
warning receivers, chaff and flare dispensers, and night-vision
goggle-compatible heads-up display.  In addition, it will have
satellite and data burst communications, as well as in-flight
refueling capability.  The Combat Shadow can fly in the day against a
reduced threat; however, crews normally fly night, low-level, air
refueling and formation operations using night-vision goggles. 

*** End of document. ***