News AN/ALQ-165 Airborne Self Protection Jammer (ASPJ)


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Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, this week the Pentagon's inspector general boldly recommended putting the brakes on the Navy's troubled $4.8 billion radar jammer program. As reported in Defense Week, the inspector general has asked that work on the airborne self-protection jammer, or ASPJ, be halted while the program is reevaluated.

I applaud the inspector general, Susan Crawford, for her action. This is the type of courage that Congress wants from the inspector general's office and that Defense Secretary Cheney must have in order to control the defense budget.

The inspector general points out that over $400 million is at stake in the near term. I assume that is his request for 1991 spending. I call on the Secretary of the Navy to immediately heed the recommendation of the inspector general to reevaluate the program and delay further contract awards. If spending $400 million does not make sense, why do it?

This ASPJ jammer has been called the son of DIVAD. Just like the DIVAD antiaircraft gun, the multimillion dollar ASPJ went into production last summer even though tests have shown it simply does not work.

ASPJ units are supposed to be installed on fighter aircraft to allow our pilots to deceive enemy radar and missiles. If the radar jammer fails while the pilot believes it is working, his plane can become an electronic beacon that every missile in the sky will lock on to.

Mr. President, operational tests have found that the ASPJ, as configured at the moment could put our pilots in exactly this kind of danger. Even the former Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition wrote that `many enemy threats cannot be satisfactorily handled' by the ASPJ.

The ASPJ is in such trouble that: First, the Air Force has now completely pulled out of the program; second, it was reported that Secretary Cheney temporarily terminated the entire program in December; and third, the inspector general is in the midst of a full blown investigation of the program.

The cost of this system is also a big problem. Last fall one cost estimate put the ASPJ program at $9 billion with cost overruns of $1 billion. Mr. President, $9 billion is not much less than the President wants to spend on the MX missile system.

The inspector general is concerned about costs, too, and we should be aware of it. While ASPJ unit costs were estimated at between $2 and $3.5 million each, the termination of Air Force participation, which accounts for 60 percent of the program, will likely make the price tag skyrocket.

The inspector general prudently wants to review the impact of the Air Force pull out from the ASPJ program and cites this as one of the reasons to halt work on this particular system.

Mr. President, as I have repeated in the past I now state again. I am not opposed to radar jammer systems, but I am opposed to wasting billions of dollars to be spent to produce weapons that do not work and endanger our fighting personnel. To date, the ASPJ does not work. To date, the configuration does in fact endanger our pilots. Rather than being a flying defense shield for our pilots, the ASPJ is fast becoming a flying boondoggle for the Navy.

Mr. President, again I compliment the DOD inspector general and ask unanimous consent that a copy of the defense week article and an article on Secretary Cheney's December termination of the program, which was apparently reversed, be printed in the Record.

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From Inside the Pentagon, Dec. 15, 1989


DOD Opinions About ASPJ Differ--Cheney Kills ASPJ, but DOD Staff Asks Services to Take a Second Look

DOD opinions about the controversial $3-billion Airborne Self-Protection Jammer (ASPJ) program are differing wildly--Defense Secretary Richard Cheney killed the ASPJ program this week even as another high-level DOD official tried to rally Service support for the program, according to DOD sources. Cheney signed a program budget decision (PBD) on Dec. 11--a death warrant for the embattled jammer that cancelled FY-91 through -94 funding.

Prior to the ASPJ PBD, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence Duane Andrews penned an internal memo to the acquisition executive of the Air Force asking the Service not to give the program short shrift, said one source. Air Force Secretary Donald Rice had offered up the program to Cheney as one exchange for some $3.4-billion in FY-91 program cuts that Rice hoped to recoup. Andrews expressed concern about the limited alternatives to the jammer in the memo. A copy of the correspondence was also sent to the acquisition executive of the Navy.

The only possible hope for the program now that Cheney signed the PBD is to keep production verification (PV) testing alive, according to a Service official familiar with the program. USAF electronic comabt chief Brig. Gen. Noah `Ed' Loy will still fight to save the program through a concerted push for the testing. `One year of testing isn't much if the results aren't successful and will save the taxpayer millions if they are,' said one USAF source recently.

The ASPJ has had a long history of problems but supporters question the program termination, stating that the majority of the problems are in the past. Continually evolving threats had stretched the jammer's development by years, and measures of effectiveness (MOEs) and the test evaluation maste plan (TEMP) were also problematic. The MOEs and TEMP are almost finished, say ASPJ supporters. More recently, software difficulties are being attacked. After contractors had worked with personnel at the Air Force Electronic Warfare Evaluation Simulator, the system's identification of threats rocketed from 18 to 54 within a two-week period. A series of congressional obstacles were also overcome and program supporters began to feel hopeful after Congressional appropriations conferees told the Navy, the Service lead on the ASPJ, to plan for an early FY-91 Lot 2 low-rate initial production award by issuing a request for proposals in early 1990.

The program is now officially dead `but there's always a way' said an Air Force official who believes good PV testing results could still save the ASPJ.

Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I at this point yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

(Mr. FORD assumed the chair.)

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nevada.

Mr. BRYAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. BRYAN. Mr. President, may I inquire, is it in order to speak as in morning business at this time? If not, I ask unanimous consent to do so.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, the Senator may proceed.