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Operation Desert Storm: Operation Desert Storm Air War (Letter Report, 07/02/96, GAO/PEMD-96-10)

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the effectiveness of
Operation Desert Storm's air campaign, focusing on: (1) the
effectiveness of aircraft and weapons systems in achieving objectives;
(2) whether campaign data supports post-conflict weapon system
performance claims; (3) the contributions and limitations of advanced
technologies; and (4) whether the conditions encountered in Desert Storm
limit the lessons learned.
GAO found that: (1) target identification, battle damage assessment
(BDA), target information dissemination, and intelligence gathering
limitations led to higher mission costs and reduced effectiveness; (2)
weapons systems' effectiveness during Desert Storm could not be fully
analyzed because many systems could not be used in adverse weather
conditions and were not used at their optimal altitudes; (3) the air
campaign's success resulted from the availability of a mix of strike and
support aircraft and munitions that had a wide range of capabilities;
(4) data could not support the contention that higher-cost aircraft were
generally more effective or capable than lower-cost aircraft; (5) the
number of attack and strike aircraft available by 2000 will decrease due
to the scheduled retirement of many Desert Storm aircraft; (6) although
DOD did not achieve its one-target, one-bomb efficiency goal, and the
success rate of guided munitions could not be validated by campaign
data, guided munitions accounted for most of the campaign's munitions
costs; (7) the effectiveness of many systems that incorporate complex or
advanced technologies may be limited in future missions, since many of
these systems require specific operating conditions to operate
effectively; and (8) many of DOD and manufacturers' postwar claims about
weapon system performance were overstated, misleading, inconsistent, or
--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------
     TITLE:  Operation Desert Storm: Operation Desert Storm Air War
      DATE:  07/02/96
   SUBJECT:  Defense capabilities
             Military aircraft
             Advanced weapons systems
             Military research
             Combat readiness
             Air warfare
             Military intervention
             Military intelligence operations
IDENTIFIER:  Desert Storm
             Tornado Aircraft
             Stealth Aircraft
             B-52 Aircraft
             GR-1 Aircraft
             F-117A Aircraft
             A-10 Aircraft
             Tomahawk Cruise Missile
             Maverick Missile
             A-6E Aircraft
             F-111F Aircraft
             F-15E Aircraft
             F-16 Aircraft
             F/A-18 Aircraft
             Air Force Gulf War Air Power Survey
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================================================================ COVER
Report to Congressional Requesters
July 1996
Operation Desert Storm Air War
=============================================================== ABBREV
  ACTD - Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration
  BDA - Battle damage assessment
  BE - Basic encyclopedia
  BUR - Bottom-up review
  C\3 - Command, control, and communications
  DAWMS - Deep Attack/Weapons Mix Study
  DIA - Defense Intelligence Agency
  DOD - Department of Defense
  ELE - Electrical facilities
  GOB - Ground order of battle
  GVC - Government centers
  GWAPS - Gulf War Air Power Survey
  LANTIRN - Low-altitude navigation and targeting infrared for night
  LGB - Laser-guided bomb
  LOC - Lines of communication
  MIB - Military industrial base
  NAV - Naval facilities
  NBC - Nuclear, biological, and chemical
  OCA - Offensive counterair
  OIL - Oil refining, storage, and distribution
  SAM - Surface-to-air missile
  SCU - Scud missile facilities
  TLAM - Tomahawk land-attack missile
  TOE - Type of effort
  WOE - Weight of effort
=============================================================== LETTER
July 2, 1996
The Honorable David Pryor
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Post Office and Civil Service
Committee on Governmental Affairs
United States Senate
The Honorable John D.  Dingell
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Commerce
House of Representatives
This study responds to your request that we comprehensively evaluate
the use and effectiveness of the various aircraft, munitions, and
other weapon systems used in the victorious air campaign in Operation
Desert Storm in order to aid the Congress in future procurement
Over 5 years ago, the United States and its coalition allies
successfully forced Iraq out of Kuwait.  The performance of aircraft
and their munitions, cruise missiles, and other air campaign systems
in Desert Storm continues to be relevant today as the basis for
significant procurement and force sizing decisions.  For example, the
Department of Defense (DOD) Report on the Bottom-Up Review (BUR)
explicitly cited the effectiveness of advanced weapons used in Desert
Storm--including laser-guided bombs (LGBs) and stealth aircraft--as
shaping the BUR recommendations on weapons procurement.\1
This report is an unclassified summary of our classified report.  The
table of contents for that report is included in appendix I to
provide an outline of the breadth of our evaluation. 
\1 Department of Defense, Report on the Bottom-Up Review (Washington,
D.C.:  October 1993), p.  18. 
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1
Operation Desert Storm was primarily a sustained 43-day air campaign
by the United States and its allies against Iraq between January 17,
1991, and February 28, 1991.  It was the first large employment of
U.S.  air power since the Vietnam war, and by some measures
(particularly the low number of U.S.  casualties and the short
duration of the campaign), it was perhaps the most successful war
fought by the United States in the 20th century.  The main ground
campaign occupied only the final 100 hours of the war. 
The air campaign involved nearly every type of fixed-wing aircraft in
the U.S.  inventory, flying about 40,000 air-to-ground and 50,000
support sorties.\2 Approximately 1,600 U.S.  combat aircraft were
deployed by the end of the war.  By historical standards, the
intensity of the air campaign was substantial.  The U.S.  bomb
tonnage dropped per day was equivalent to 85 percent of the average
daily bomb tonnage dropped by the United States on Germany and Japan
during the course of World War II. 
Operation Desert Storm provided a valuable opportunity to assess the
performance of U.S.  combat aircraft and munitions systems under
actual combat conditions.  Unlike operational tests or small-scale
hostilities, the air campaign involved a very large number of
conventional systems from all four services used in tandem, which
permits potentially meaningful cross-system comparisons.  The combat
data in this report can be seen as an extension of the performance
data generated by DOD's operational test and evaluation programs that
we have previously reviewed.\3
\2 Support sorties comprised missions such as refueling, electronic
jamming, and combat air patrol. 
\3 See U.S.  General Accounting Office, Weapons Acquisition: 
Low-Rate Initial Production Used to Buy Weapon Systems Prematurely,
GAO/NSIAD-95-18 (Washington, D.C.:  November 1994); Weapons
Acquisition:  A Rare Opportunity for Lasting Change, GAO/NSIAD-93-15
(Washington, D.C.:  December 1992); Weapons Testing:  Quality of DOD
Operational Testing and Reporting, GAO/PEMD-88-32BR (Washington,
D.C.:  July 1988); Live Fire Testing:  Evaluating DOD's Programs,
GAO/PEMD-87-17 (Washington, D.C.:  August 1987); and How Well Do the
Military Services Perform Jointly in Combat?  DOD's Joint Test and
Evaluation Program Provides Few Credible Answers, GAO/PEMD-84-3
(Washington, D.C.:  February 1984). 
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2
To respond to your questions about the effectiveness of the air
campaign; the performance of individual weapon systems; the accuracy
of contractor claims, particularly in regard to stealth technology
and the F-117; and the relationship between the cost of weapon
systems and their performance and contributions to the success of the
air campaign, we established the following report objectives. 
1.  Determine the use, performance, and effectiveness of individual
weapon systems in pursuit of Desert Storm's objectives, and in
particular, the extent to which the data from the conflict support
the claims that DOD and weapon contractors have made about weapon
system performance. 
2.  Describe the relationship between cost and performance for the
weapon systems employed. 
3.  Identify the degree to which the goals of Desert Storm were
achieved by air power. 
4.  Identify the key factors aiding or inhibiting the effectiveness
of air power. 
5.  Identify the contributions and limitations of advanced
technologies to the accomplishments of the air campaign. 
6.  Determine whether the unique conditions of Desert Storm limit the
lessons learned. 
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3
Operation Desert Storm was a highly successful and decisive military
operation.  The air campaign, which incurred minimal casualties while
effecting the collapse of the Iraqis' ability to resist, helped
liberate Kuwait and elicit Iraqi compliance with U.N.  resolutions. 
However, our analysis of the air campaign against strategic targets
revealed several air power issues that require attention before the
next campaign.  First, the effectiveness of air power in Desert Storm
was inhibited by the aircraft sensors' inherent limitations in
identifying and acquiring targets and by DOD's failure to gather
intelligence on the existence or location of certain critical targets
and its inability to collect and disseminate timely battle damage
assessments (BDA).  Pilots noted that infrared, electro-optical, and
laser systems were all seriously degraded by clouds, rain, fog,
smoke, and even high humidity, and the pilots reported being unable
to discern whether a presumed target was a tank or a truck and
whether it had already been destroyed.  The failure of intelligence
to identify certain targets precluded any opportunity for the
coalition to fully accomplish some of its objectives.  And the
reduced accuracies from medium and high altitudes and absence of
timely BDA led to higher costs, reduced effectiveness, and increased
risks from making unnecessary restrikes. 
Second, U.S.  commanders were able to favor medium- to high-altitude
strike tactics that maximized aircraft and pilot survivability,
rather than weapon system effectiveness.  This was because of early
and complete air superiority, a limited enemy response, and terrain
and climate conditions generally conducive to air strikes. 
Low-altitude munitions deliveries had been emphasized in prewar
training, but they were abandoned early.  The subsequent deliveries
from medium and high altitudes resulted in the use of sensors and
weapon systems at distances from targets that were not optimal for
their identification, acquisition, or accuracy.  Medium- and
high-altitude tactics also increased the exposure of aircraft sensors
to man-made and natural impediments to visibility. 
Third, the success of the sustained air campaign resulted from the
availability of a mix of strike and support assets.  Its substantial
weight of effort was made possible, in significant part, by the
variety and number of air-to-ground aircraft types from high-payload
bombers, such as the B-52, to platforms capable of delivering guided
munitions such as the stealthy F-117, to high-sortie-rate attack
aircraft such as the A-10.  A range of target types, threat
conditions, and tactical and strategic objectives was best confronted
with a mix of weapon systems and strike and support assets with a
range of capabilities. 
Fourth, despite often sharp contrasts in the unit cost of aircraft
platforms, it is inappropriate, given aircraft use, performance, and
effectiveness demonstrated in Desert Storm, to characterize higher
cost aircraft as generally more capable than lower cost aircraft.  In
some cases, the higher cost systems had the greater operating
limitations; in some other cases, the lower cost aircraft had the
same general limitations but performed at least as well; and in still
other cases, the data did not permit a differentiation. 
Fifth, "one-target, one-bomb" efficiency was not achieved.  The air
campaign data did not validate the purported efficiency or
effectiveness of guided munitions, without qualification.  On
average, more than 11 tons of guided and 44 tons of unguided
munitions were delivered on targets assessed as successfully
destroyed; still more tonnage of both was delivered against targets
where objectives were not fully met.  Large tonnages of munitions
were used against targets not only because of inaccuracy from high
altitudes but also because BDA data were lacking.  Although the
relative contribution of guided munitions in achieving target success
is unknowable, they did account for the bulk of munitions costs. 
Only 8 percent of the delivered munitions tonnage was guided, but at
a price that represented 84 percent of the total munitions cost. 
During Desert Storm, the ratio of guided-to- unguided munitions
delivered did not vary, indicating that the relative preferences
among these types of munitions did not change over the course of the
campaign.  More generally, Desert Storm demonstrated that many
systems incorporating complex or advanced technologies require
specific operating conditions to operate effectively.  These
conditions, however, were not consistently encountered in Desert
Storm and cannot be assumed in future contingencies. 
Lastly, many of DOD's and manufacturers' postwar claims about weapon
system performance--particularly the F-117, TLAM, and laser-guided
bombs--were overstated, misleading, inconsistent with the best
available data, or unverifiable. 
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.1
In this report, we evaluate the aircraft and munitions that we deemed
to have had a major role in the execution of the Desert Storm air
campaign by virtue of their satisfying at least one (in most cases,
two) of the following criteria.  The system
  -- played a major role against strategic targets (broadly defined),
  -- was the focus of congressional interest,
  -- may be considered by DOD for future major procurement,
  -- appeared likely to play a role in future conflicts, or
  -- even if not slated currently for major procurement, either was
     used by allied forces in a manner or role different from its
     U.S.  use or used new technologies likely to be employed in the
These criteria led us to assess the A-6E, A-10, B-52, F-111F, F-117A,
F-15E, F-16, F/A-18, and British Tornado (GR-1).\4 We examined both
guided and unguided munitions, including laser-guided bombs, Maverick
missiles, Tomahawk land-attack (cruise) missiles (TLAMs), and
unguided "dumb" bombs. 
We assess the effectiveness of various U.S.  and allied air campaign
aircraft and weapon systems in destroying ground targets, primarily
those that fall into the category of "strategic" targets.\5 We
focused our analysis on strategic targets in part because they
received the best documented BDA, although there was substantial
variation from target to target and among target types in the
quantity and quality of BDA.  The 12 categories of strategic targets
in Desert Storm are listed in appendix II. 
Historically, studies of air power have articulated differing points
of view on the relative merits of focusing air attacks on targets
deemed to be strategic (such as government leadership, military
industry, and electrical generation) and focusing them on tactical
targets (such as frontline armor and artillery).  These contending
points of view have been debated in many official and unofficial
sources.\6 In this study, we did not directly address this debate
because data and other limitations (discussed below) did not permit a
rigorous analysis of whether attacks against strategic targets
contributed more to the success of Desert Storm than attacks against
tactical targets. 
\4 The AV-8B, A-7, and B-1B were not included.  Both the AV-8B and
the A-7 were excluded because of their relatively few strikes against
strategic targets.  The B-1B did not participate in the campaign
because munitions limitations, engine problems, inadequate crew
training, and electronic warfare deficiencies severely hampered its
conventional capabilities. 
\5 In Operation Desert Storm, some targets were clearly strategic,
such as Iraqi Air Force headquarters in Baghdad, while others,
essentially the Iraqi ground forces in the Kuwait theater of
operations, could be considered both strategic and tactical.  For our
purposes, we concentrated on the effects achieved by the air campaign
before the start of the ground offensive, including successes against
ground forces in Kuwait.  Unlike most previous large-scale conflicts,
the air campaign accounted for more than 90 percent of the entire
conflict's duration.  Therefore, what we have excluded from our
analysis is the role of air power in supporting ground forces during
the ground offensive ("close air support"), as well as such
nonstrategic missions as search and rescue. 
\6 Examples include:  Edward C.  Mann, III, Thunder and Lightning
(Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.:  Air University Press, April 1995);
John A.  Warden, III, The Air Campaign (Washington, D.C.: 
Pergamon-Brassey's, 1989); and Richard T.  Reynolds, Heart of the
Storm:  The Genesis of the Air Campaign Against Iraq (Maxwell Air
Force Base, Ala.:  Air University Press, April 1995). 
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.2
-------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.2.1
A primary goal of our work was to cross-validate the best available
data on aircraft and weapon system performance, both qualitative and
quantitative, to test for consistency, accuracy, and reliability. 
The data we analyzed in this report are the best information
collected during the war.  They were compiled for and used by the
commanders who managed the air campaign.  These data also provided
the basis for postwar DOD and manufacturer assessments of aircraft
and weapon system performance during Desert Storm.  We balanced the
limitations of the data, to the extent possible, against qualitative
analyses of the systems.  For example, we compared claims made for
system performance and contributions to what was supportable given
all the available data, both quantitative and qualitative. 
We collected and analyzed data from a broad range of sources,
including the major DOD databases that document the strike histories
of the war and cumulative damage to targets; numerous after-action
and lessons-learned reports from military units that participated in
the war; intelligence reports; analyses performed by DOD contractors;
historical accounts of the war from the media and other published
literature; and interviews with participants, including more than 100
Desert Storm pilots and key individuals in the planning and execution
of the war.\7 We also interviewed key Desert Storm planners and
analysts from a wide spectrum of organizations, both within and
outside DOD.  (See appendix III.)
After we collected and analyzed the air campaign information, we
interviewed DOD, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and service representatives
and reviewed plans for the acquisition and use of weapon systems in
future campaigns to observe how the lessons learned from Desert Storm
have been applied.  Our analyses were also reviewed by several
experts on either air power issues in general or the conduct of
Operation Desert Storm in particular.  (See appendix IV.)
\7 We did not select pilots randomly, given constraints on their
availability, travel, and time.  The only requirement was that a
pilot had flown the relevant type of aircraft in a Desert Storm
combat mission.  In most cases, the pilots had flown numerous
missions.  The purpose of interviewing pilots was to receive as
direct input as possible from the aircraft and munition user rather
than views filtered through official reports.  In U.S.  General
Accounting Office, Operation Desert Storm:  Limits on the Role and
Performance of B-52 Bombers in Conventional Conflicts,
GAO/NSIAD-93-138 (Washington, D.C.:  May 1993), we assessed the B-52
role in detail.  Where they were relevant, we incorporated the data
and findings from that report into our comparisons.  The British
government denied our requests to interview British pilots who had
flown in Desert Storm.  However, we were able to obtain some official
assessments of the British role in the air campaign, and we
interviewed U.S.  pilots about their interactions with British
-------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.2.2
To compare the nature and magnitude of the power that Operation
Desert Storm employed against strategic targets to the nature of
outcomes, we analyzed two databases--the "Missions" database
generated by the Air Force's Gulf War Air Power Survey (GWAPS)
research group (to assess inputs) and the Defense Intelligence
Agency's (DIA's) phase III battle damage assessment reports (to
assess outcomes).  The Missions database represents a strike history
of air-to-ground platforms and ordnance in the Persian Gulf war.\8
There are data on 862 targets, with basic encyclopedia (or BE)
numbers, that together comprise more than 1 million pieces of strike
information.  The phase III reports provided the best cumulative
all-source functional BDA for each strategic target available to
planners during the course of the war. 
To determine the use of aircraft and munitions in achieving air
campaign objectives, we used the Missions database to determine
weight-of-effort (WOE) and type-of-effort measures (TOE) at two
levels.\9 First, we calculated WOE and TOE at the broad level of the
target category for each of the 12 strategic target categories shown
in appendix II.  Second, we calculated WOE and TOE for each aircraft
and TLAM across the 12 categories. 
We used phase III reports on fixed strategic targets to determine the
extent to which the functional capabilities of the target had been
eliminated.  To correlate outcomes on targets with the input to them,
we matched phase III data with data in the Missions database.  For
strategic targets where both BDA and WOE/TOE data existed, we sought
to assess the relationship between the WOE and TOE data representing
campaign inputs with phase III BDA data representing campaign
outcomes, at the target level.\10 While this methodology has
limitations, no other study of Desert Storm has produced the
target-specific input-outcome database that can be derived from
merging these sources. 
\8 GWAPS researchers compiled a very large computerized database on
aerial operations in the Persian Gulf war from existing records.  It
documents aircraft strikes on ground targets, number and type of
ordnance, date, and time on target information, target names and
identifiers, desired mean point of impact, and additional
mission-related information.  It contains strike history information
across the duration of the air campaign for most of the air-to-ground
platforms that participated. 
\9 Variables that comprise the WOE measure include (1) the quantity
of BE numbers to which platforms were tasked, (2) the quantity of
strikes that platforms conducted, (3) the quantity of bombs that
platforms delivered, and (4) the quantity of bomb tonnage that
platforms delivered.  Variables that comprise the TOE measure include
(1) the quantity of bombs that were guided bombs, (2) the quantity of
bombs that were unguided bombs, (3) the quantity of bomb tonnage that
was guided, and (4) the quantity of bomb tonnage that was unguided. 
\10 This methodology was discussed with DIA analysts who were
familiar with both the Missions database and the phase III reports. 
They identified no reason why this methodology would not result in
valid comparisons of inputs and outcomes.  In addition, they believed
that the utilization of WOE and TOE variables would alleviate data
problems previously encountered by analysts conducting strike BDA. 
-------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.2.3
This analysis of the campaign and aircraft and munitions use and
effectiveness benefited from our use of the most comprehensive strike
and BDA data produced from the Persian Gulf war, a previously untried
methodology to match inputs and outputs on targets; additional
qualitative and quantitative data obtained from Desert Storm veterans
and after-action reports to corroborate information in the primary
databases; and our utilization of the results of other Desert Storm
analyses, such as the Gulf War Air Power Survey. 
This study is the first to match available Desert Storm strike and
BDA data by target and to attempt to assess the effectiveness of
multiple weapon systems across target categories.  Despite the data
limitations discussed below, our methodology provided systematic
information on how weapon systems were employed, what level and types
of weapons were required to achieve success, and the relative
cost-effectiveness of multiple platforms.  The reliability and
validity of these findings are strengthened by our use of interviews,
after-action reports, and other Desert Storm analyses to better
understand platform performance variables and place the results of
our effectiveness analyses in the appropriate context. 
Our analyses of campaign inputs (from the Missions database) and
outcomes (from the phase III reports) against ground targets have
limitations of both scope and reliability imposed by constraints in
the primary Desert Storm databases.  Systematically correlating
munition inputs against targets to outcomes was made highly
problematic by the fact that the phase III BDA reports did not
provide a comprehensive compilation of BDA for all strategic targets
and could not differentiate the effects of one system from another on
the same target.\11
We sought to work around data limitations through qualitative
analysis of systems, based on diverse sources.  Claims made for
system performance were assessed in light of the most rigorous
evaluation that could be made with the available data.  We have
explicitly noted data insufficiencies and uncertainties.  Overall,
data gaps and inconsistencies made an across-the-board
cost-effectiveness evaluation difficult.  However, there were
sufficient data either to assess all the major claims made by DOD for
the performance of the major systems studied or to indicate where the
data are lacking to support certain claims. 
We conducted our work between July 1992 and December 1995 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 
\11 Such assessments, system by system, were not the objective of
these reports.  Since targets were generally assessed only
episodically and, in most cases, after being hit by numerous diverse
aircraft and munitions over a period of time, it was impossible to
know which munition from which aircraft had caused what amount of
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5
We reached the following conclusions from our review of the air
  -- DOD's future ability to conduct an efficient, effective, and
     comprehensive air campaign will depend partly on its ability to
     enhance sensor capabilities, particularly at medium altitudes
     and in adverse weather, in order to identify valid targets and
     collect, analyze, and disseminate timely BDA. 
  -- A key parameter in future weapon systems design, operational
     testing and evaluation, training, and doctrine will be pilot and
     aircraft survivability. 
  -- The scheduled retirement of strike and attack aircraft such as
     the A-6E, F-111F, and most A-10s will make Desert Storm's
     variety and number of aircraft unavailable by the year 2000. 
  -- The cost of guided munitions (now estimated to be over $58
     billion), their intelligence requirements, and the limitations
     on their effectiveness demonstrated in Desert Storm need to be
     considered by DOD and the services as they determine the optimal
     future mix of guided and unguided munitions. 
DOD and associated agencies have undertaken initiatives since the war
to address many, but not all, of the limitations of the air campaign
that we identified in our summary (see pp.  3-4) and conclusions.  We
have not analyzed each of these initiatives in this report; however,
we briefly describe those that apply to one or more of our
conclusions below. 
First, DOD officials told us that the most sophisticated targeting
sensors used in Desert Storm (which were available only in limited
quantities) have now been deployed on many more fighter aircraft,
thereby giving them a capability to deliver guided munitions. 
However, the same limitations exhibited by these advanced sensor and
targeting systems in Desert Storm--limited fields-of-view,
insufficient resolution for target discrimination at medium
altitudes, vulnerabilities to adverse weather, and limited traverse
movement--remain today. 
Second, DOD officials told us that to address the Desert Storm BDA
analysis and dissemination shortcomings, they have created an
organization to work out issues, consolidate national reporting, and
provide leadership; developed DOD-wide doctrine, tactics, techniques,
and procedures; established more rigorous and realistic BDA training
and realistic exercises; and developed and deployed better means to
disseminate BDA.  However, DOD officials acknowledge that additional
problems remain with improving BDA timeliness and accuracy,
developing nonlethal BDA functional damage indicators (particularly
for new weapons that produce nontraditional effects), and cultivating
intelligence sources to identify and validate strategic targets. 
Moreover, as our analyses of the air campaign revealed, timely and
accurate BDA is crucial for the efficient employment of high-cost
guided munitions (that is, for avoiding unnecessary restrikes). 
Therefore, acquisition plans for guided munitions must take fully
into account actual BDA collection and dissemination capabilities
before a final determination can be made on how much to acquire. 
Third, DOD officials told us that survivability is now being
emphasized in pilot training, service and joint doctrine, and weapon
system development.  Pilot training was modified immediately after
the air campaign to meet challenges such as medium-altitude
deliveries in a high antiaircraft artillery and infrared
surface-to-air missile threat environment.  Service and joint
doctrine now reflect the lessons learned from Desert Storm's
asymmetrical conflict.  Several fighter aircraft employment manuals
specifically incorporate the tactics that emphasized survivability in
the campaign.  DOD and service procurement plans include new
munitions with global positioning system guidance systems, justified
in part by their abilities to minimize the medium-altitude
shortcomings and adverse weather limitations of Desert Storm while
maximizing pilot and aircraft survivability. 
Fourth, DOD officials told us that although Desert Storm's successful
aircraft mix will not be available for the next contingency, DOD and
the services have made plans to maintain an inventory of aircraft
that they believe will be more flexible and effective in the future. 
Flexibility will be anticipated partly from the modernization of
existing multirole fighters to enable them to deliver guided
munitions (the aircraft systems being retired are single-role
platforms), and their effectiveness is expected to increase as new
and more accurate guided munitions are put in the field.  However, we
believe that strike aircraft modernization and munition procurement
plans that include increasing the number and variety of guided
munitions and the number of platforms capable of delivering them
require additional justification.\12
\12 In Desert Storm, 229 U.S.  aircraft were capable of delivering
laser-guided munitions; in 1996, the expanded installation of
low-altitude navigation and targeting infrared for night (LANTIRN)
pods on F-15Es and block 40 F-16s will increase this capability
within the Air Force to approximately 500 platforms.  The services
have bought or are investing over $58 billion (then-year dollars) to
acquire 33 different types of guided munitions totaling over 300,000
units.  (See U.S.  General Accounting Office, Weapons Acquisition: 
Precision Guided Munitions in Inventory, Production, and Development,
GAO/NSIAD-95-95 (Washington, D.C.:  June 1995).) Air Force plans
reveal that nearly 62 percent of all interdiction target types in a
major regional conflict in Iraq could be tasked to either guided or
unguided munitions today (1995) but that will fall to approximately
40 percent in 2002.  Concurrently, the percentage of targets to be
tasked to only guided munitions will increase from 19 percent in 1995
to nearly 43 percent in 2002. 
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6
Desert Storm established a paradigm for asymmetrical post-cold war
conflicts.  The coalition possessed quantitative and qualitative
superiority in aircraft, munitions, intelligence, personnel, support,
and doctrine.  It dictated when the conflict should start, where
operations should be conducted, when the conflict should end, and how
terms of the peace should read.  This paradigm--conflict where the
relative technological advantages for the U.S.  forces are high and
the acceptable level of risk or attrition for the U.S.  forces is
low--underlies the service modernization plans for strike aircraft
and munitions.  Actions on the following recommendations will help
ensure that high-cost munitions can be employed more efficiently at
lower risk to pilots and aircraft and that the future mix of guided
and unguided munitions is appropriate and cost-effective given the
threats, exigencies, and objectives of potential contingencies. 
  -- In light of the shortcomings of the sensors in Desert Storm, we
     recommend that the Secretary of Defense analyze and identify
     DOD's need to enhance the capabilities of existing and planned
     sensors to effectively locate, discriminate, and acquire targets
     in varying weather conditions and at different altitudes. 
     Furthermore, the Secretary should ensure that any new sensors or
     enhancements of existing ones are tested under fully realistic
     operational conditions that are at least as stressful as the
     conditions that impeded capabilities in Desert Storm. 
  -- In light of the shortcomings in BDA exhibited during Desert
     Storm and BDA's importance to strike planning, the BDA problems
     that DOD officials acknowledge continue today despite DOD
     postwar initiatives need to be addressed.  These problems
     include timeliness, accuracy, capacity, assessment of functional
     damage, and cultivating intelligence sources to identify and
     validate strategic targets.  We recommend that the Secretary of
     Defense expand DOD's current efforts to include such activities
     so that BDA problems can be fully resolved. 
  -- In light of the quantities and mix of guided and unguided
     munitions that proved successful in Desert Storm, the services'
     increasing reliance on guided munitions to conduct asymmetrical
     warfare may not be appropriate.  The Secretary should reconsider
     DOD's proposed mix of guided and unguided munitions.  A
     reevaluation is warranted based on Desert Storm experiences that
     demonstrated limitations in the effectiveness of guided
     munitions; survivability concerns for aircraft delivering these
     munitions; and circumstances where less complex, less
     constrained unguided munitions proved equally or more effective. 
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :7
The Department of Defense partially concurred with each of our three
recommendations.  In their response to a draft of our report, DOD did
not dispute our conclusions; rather, they reported that several
initiatives were underway that will rectify the shortcomings and
limitations demonstrated in Desert Storm.  Specifically, they cited
(1) the acquisition of improved and new precision-guided munitions,
(2) two studies in process--Deep Attack/Weapons Mix Study (DAWMS) and
Precision Strike Architecture study, and (3) several proposed fiscal
year 1997 Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations (ACTDs) as
programs capable of correcting Desert Storm shortcomings.  In
addition, DOD emphasized the importance of providing funds to retain
the operational test and evaluation function to ensure the rigorous
testing of our weapons and weapon systems.  (See appendix V for the
full text of DOD's comments.)
We agree that the actions cited by DOD address the shortcomings in
sensors, guided munitions, and battle damage assessment we report
here.  However, the degree to which these initiatives are effective
can be determined only after rigorous operational test and evaluation
of both new and existing munitions and after the recommendations
resulting from the Deep Attack/Weapons Mix and Precision Strike
Architecture studies have been implemented and evaluated.  Moreover,
we concur with the continuing need for operational test and
evaluation and underscore the role of this function in rectifying the
shortcomings cited in this report. 
DOD also provided us with a list of recommended technical
corrections.  Where appropriate, we have addressed these comments in
our report. 
As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce its
contents earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report
until 7 days after its date of issue.  We will then send copies to
other congressional committees and the Secretary of Defense.  We will
also make copies available to others upon request. 
If you have any questions or would like additional information,
please do not hesitate to call me at (202) 512-3092.  Major
contributors to this report are listed in appendix VI. 
Kwai-Cheung Chan
Director of Program Evaluation
 in Physical Systems Areas
=========================================================== Appendix I
Appendix I:  Scope and Methodology
Appendix II:  The Use of Aircraft and Munitions in the Air Campaign
Appendix III:  Aircraft and Munition Effectiveness in Desert Storm
Appendix IV:  Cost and Performance of Aircraft and Munitions in
Desert Storm
Appendix V:  Desert Storm Campaign Objectives
Appendix VI:  Basic Structure of Iraqi Integrated Air Defense
Appendix VII:  Pre-Desert Storm Missions and Actual Use
Appendix VIII:  Weight of Effort and Type of Effort Analyses
Appendix IX:  Target Sensor Technologies
Appendix X:  Combat Support Platforms
Appendix XI:  The Experience of F-16s and F-117s at the Baghdad
Nuclear Research Facility
Appendix XII:  Comments From the Department of Defense
Appendix XIII:  Major Contributors to This Report
========================================================== Appendix II
Abbreviation        Target category
------------------  --------------------------------------------------
C\3                 Command, control, and communication facilities
ELE                 Electrical facilities
GOB                 Ground order of battle (Iraqi ground forces in the
                    Kuwait theater of operations, including the
                    Republican Guard)
GVC                 Government centers
LOC                 Lines of communication
MIB                 Military industrial base facilities
NAV                 Naval facilities
NBC                 Nuclear, biological, and chemical facilities
OCA                 Offensive counterair installations
OIL                 Oil refining, storage, and distribution facilities
SAM                 Surface-to-air missile installations
SCU                 Scud missile facilities
========================================================= Appendix III
Organization                              Location
----------------------------------------  ----------------------------
Air Combat Command                        Langley Air Force Base, Va.
Center for Air Force History              Washington, D.C.
Center for Naval Analyses                 Alexandria, Va.
Central Intelligence Agency               Langley, Va.
Defense Intelligence Agency               Washington, D.C.
Department of Air Force, Headquarters     Washington, D.C.
Embassy of the United Kingdom             Washington, D.C.
Foreign Science and Technology Center     Charlottesville, Va.
Grumman Corporation                       Bethpage, N.Y.
Gulf War Air Power Survey (research       Arlington, Va.
Institute for Defense Analyses            Alexandria, Va.
Lockheed Advanced Development             Burbank, Calif.
McDonnell Douglas Corporation             St. Louis, Mo.
Naval A-6E Unit                           Oceana Naval Air Station,
Naval F/A-18 Unit                         Cecil Naval Air Station,
Navy Operational Intelligence Center,     Suitland, Md.
Strike Projection Evaluation and Anti-
Air Research (SPEAR) Department
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations   Washington, D.C.
Office of the Secretary of Defense        Washington, D.C.
Rand Corporation                          Santa Monica, Calif.
Securities and Exchange Commission        Washington, D.C.
Survivability/Vulnerability Information   Wright-Patterson Air Force
Analysis Center                           Base, Ohio
Texas Instruments                         Dallas, Tex.
U.N. Information Center                   Washington, D.C.
U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Headquarters         Norfolk, Va.
U.S. Central Air Forces, Headquarters     Shaw Air Force Base, N.C.
U.S. Central Command, Headquarters        MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
U.S. Space Command                        Cheyenne Mountain Air Force
                                          Base, Colo.
4th Tactical Fighter Wing                 Seymour Johnson Air Force
                                          Base, N.C.
48th Tactical Fighter Wing                RAF Lakenheath, U.K.
49th Fighter Wing                         Holloman Air Force Base,
57th Test Group                           Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
363rd Fighter Wing                        Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.
926th Fighter Wing (reserve)              New Orleans Naval Air
                                          Station, La.
========================================================== Appendix IV
Our draft report was reviewed by the following consultants.  The
final report incorporates appropriate changes based on their
questions, comments, and suggestions. 
Dr.  John Ahearne, Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
Dr.  Eliot Cohen, Paul H.  Nitze School of Advanced International
Studies of the Johns Hopkins University
Vice Adm.  Robert Dunn, U.S.  Navy (ret.), independent consultant
Dr.  Grant Hammond, Air War College
Brig.  Gen.  Edwin Simmons, U.S.  Marine Corps (ret.), U.S.  Marine
Corps History and Museums
Col.  Clinton Williams, U.S.  Army (ret.), independent consultant
(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix V
========================================================== Appendix IV
See comment 1. 
See comment 2. 
See comment 3. 
See comment 4. 
(See figure in printed edition.)
(See figure in printed edition.)
See comment 5. 
See comment 3. 
See comment 2. 
See comment 6. 
See comment 7. 
(See figure in printed edition.)
See comment 2. 
See comment 8. 
The following are GAO's comments on the March 28, 1996, letter from
the Department of Defense. 
1.  The acquisition of new precision-guided munitions may well
provide new capabilities that overcome the limitations observed in
Operation Desert Storm.  However, the degree to which these new
munitions may overcome the limitations of existing munitions can only
be determined after rigorous operational test and evaluation of both
new and existing munitions. 
2.  The Deep Attack/Weapons Mix Study will not fully address the
implications of our findings concerning the strengths and limitations
of guided and unguided munitions.  DAWMS is an analysis of the full
range of precision-guided munitions in production and in research,
development, test, and evaluation that will determine the number and
types of precision-guided munitions that are needed to provide a
complementary capability against each target class.  By analyzing
only precision-guided munitions, the study does not address the
benefits realized from 92 percent of the munitions delivered in
Operation Desert Storm.  The premise of the DAWMS does not
acknowledge the ambiguous results from Desert Storm regarding
munitions effectiveness, the cost and operational trade-offs between
guided and unguided munitions, and the demonstrated preference for
unguided over guided munitions against several strategic target
3.  The Precision Strike Architecture study was designed to define a
"system of systems" for precision strike by
  -- defining the mission,
  -- identifying the component systems,
  -- developing a concept of operations,
  -- facilitating opportunities for system evolution,
  -- creating criteria for establishing choices among alternatives,
  -- determining costs. 
The resulting architecture for precision strike is a plan that
addresses the limitations in strike capabilities demonstrated in our
report.  However, the degree to which the sensor and other precision
strike shortcomings are alleviated cannot be known until a new
precision strike architecture is implemented and tested. 
4.  We strongly acknowledge the need to maintain a rigorous
operational test and evaluation capability to ensure that commanders,
planners, and operators are aware of both the strengths and
weaknesses of existing and new weapon systems under a variety of
combat conditions. 
5.  While the physical limitations of all sensors, including laser
and forward-looking infrared, may have been known before Desert
Storm, they were not necessarily fully acknowledged by DOD or its
contractors either before the conflict or in reports to Congress
after the coalition's victory. 
6.  Our recommendation addresses the demonstrated intelligence
shortcomings in performing BDA and in identifying strategic targets
in Operation Desert Storm.  It is not apparent that the scope of the
Deep Attack/Weapons Mix Study is sufficient to address DOD's need to
cultivate intelligence sources that can identify and validate
strategic targets in future scenarios. 
7.  Part of the significance of the munitions use data from Desert
Storm is that it reveals patterns of use when perfect BDA does not
exist.  For example, we found in Desert Storm that multiple strikes
and weapon systems were used against the same targets; more munitions
were delivered than peacetime test capabilities would indicate as
necessary; determinations of whether target objectives were met were
frequently unknown; and when objectives were met, the specific system
responsible could not be determined.  These observations should
temper one of the primary expectations of the DAWMS:  that a growing
inventory and increasing capabilities of weapons will reduce the
sorties required for deep attack missions. 
8.  We recognize that where DOD concurs with the premises of our
recommendations, it does so based on information other than the
analyses we conducted of the Desert Storm air campaign.  Owing to
these differences, the solutions pursued by DOD may not fully address
the needs perceived by GAO.  Therefore, although the scope of the
specific studies and ACTDs indisputably address our recommendations,
the degree to which they result in solutions to Desert Storm
shortcomings and limitations cannot be known until the resulting
changes and innovations are operational. 
========================================================== Appendix VI
Winslow T.  Wheeler, Assistant Director
Jonathan R.  Tumin, Project Manager
Jeffrey K.  Harris, Project Manager
Carolyn M.  Copper, Social Science Analyst
Venkareddy Chennareddy, Referencer
*** End of document. ***

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