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GAO/DoD differ on SEAD future

The US GENERAL Accounting Office (GAO) and the Department of Defense (DoD) are at odds over future US military requirements for suppression of enemy air-defences (SEAD).

The investigative arm of the US Congress has recommended postponing retirement of the McDonnell Douglas F-4G Wild Weasel and Grumman EF-111 Raven until "...the funding priority of the airborne SEAD mission in relation to other elements of combat air power is re-assessed".

The US Air Force's EF-111 jamming aircraft are to be phased out in fiscal year 1999, and its F-4Gs are already being mothballed.

The USAF will rely on the less-capable Texas Instruments ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System (HTS) used on the Lockheed F-16C Block 50D aircraft to attack surface-to-air-missile sites.

Although concerned over the SEAD mission, the Pentagon says that budget constraints drove the decision to scrap the F-4G and EF-111.

The GAO says that the Pentagon has elected to support less urgent programmes, such as the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 advanced tactical fighter, at the expense of the SEAD role.

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