A CONTENTIOUS report by the US General Accounting Office (GAO) claims that precision-guided munitions may have been just as "dumb" as unguided iron bombs when used during the 1991 Gulf War.

The study claims that, because of imperfect bomb-damage assessments, it is impossible to say whether the high-cost "smart" weapons yielded higher results. "Air-campaign data did not validate the purported efficiency or effectiveness of guided munitions, without qualification," says the GAO.

It warns that "-Desert Storm demonstrated that many systems incorporating complex, or advanced technologies required specific operating conditions to operate effectively". It adds: "These conditions, however, were not consistently encountered in Desert Storm and cannot be assumed in future contingencies."

GAO investigators conclude that many claims made by the Pentagon and manufacturers about the lethality of their smart weapons "-were overstated, misleading, inconsistent with the best available data, or unverifiable".

Source: Flight International