Electronic Weapons: May 1, 2000

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The Air Force has canceled the B-1B bomber's Defensive Systems Upgrade Program, a $1.2 billion program to provide the bombers with new ALR-56M threat detectors and ALE-55 towed decoys. The Air Force has wanted the upgrade for years, but is concerned that the equipment would not have met specifications and would have cost too much. The Air Force is convinced it would have lost several B-1Bs over Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War except for the existing ALE-50 towed decoys. The DSUP would have allowed the B-1B to deal with threats it cannot currently survive. The fiasco over the DSUP may reflect deeper problems unique to EW systems, and the Pentagon has set up a special study of the problem. Managers of EW programs are blamed for over-estimating the performance of future systems while underestimating their cost and giving contractors only vague deadlines. The Common Missile Warning System is also in trouble. The Air Force has decided not to use this on F16s and may cancel it for A-10s. The Navy has abandoned plans to fit the system to its F-18s and AV-8Bs.--Stephen V Cole


 


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