GAO: Air Force failed to block exports of classified systems

Tuesday, September 9, 2003

The U.S. Air Force improperly approved 35 of 123 requisitions for export of controlled systems and spare parts in a review reported by the General Accounting Office.

As a result the air force was deceived by foreign countries into erroneously approving nearly 30 percent of the requistions checked by the congressional watchdog.

The GAO report said the air force okayed the requests for classified and controlled spare parts based on incorrect federal supply classes.

The report was released in July during a series of complaints relayed to Congress that Saudi Arabia was violating the terms of U.S. export for the use of the F-15E fighter-jet. The United States sold Riyad 72 F-15E, renamed the S model, in 1995 under terms that limit the weaponry and the flight of the aircraft, Middle East Newsline reported.

"GAO found that because the system was not properly programmed and countries used unrestricted supply class numbers, the system erroneously approved 35 of 123 selected requisitions reviewed," the report, entitled "Foreign Military Sales," said. For example, one country ordered a controlled outline sequencer used on various aircraft by using a supply class that was unrestricted, but incorrect for the part it requisitioned."

On Wednesday, congressional sources confirmed that Saudi Arabia violated the terms of the F-15E sale by transferring more than 50 of the fighter-jets to the northwestern base at Tabuk. The United States had banned deployment of the Saudi F-15s around Tabuk, which is 130 kilometers from the southern Israeli border.

The GAO report did not cite countries that deceived the U.S. Air Force into sending classified aircraft systems and parts. But it reported that one unidentified foreign military client of Washington ordered and received a controlled outline sequencer used on U.S. aircraft by using a "supply class that was unrestricted, but incorrect for the part it requisitioned." In another case, the report said, a U.S. ally ordered and received a restricted battery power supply for the F-16 multi-role fighter.

"In addition, the Air Force has no written policies or procedures in place for recovering items that have been shipped in error," the report said.

The report said the Defense Department has delivered more than $138 billion in services and defense articles, including classified and controlled parts, to foreign governments through its foreign military sales programs. Classified spare parts are restricted for national security reasons, while controlled parts contain technology that the military does not want to release.

The air force has failed to test its management information systems that restricts parts to foreign militaries since 1998. The report said GAO identified 18 cases in which countries requisitioned and received a controlled part for which they were not eligible because programmers had entered the restrictions in the wrong area of the system. In other cases, U.S. air force command country managers overrode the recommendation that a spare component remain restricted. In one case, an unidentified country manager authorized the shipment of a controlled communications security part meant to be denied to that country.

"For 19 of the 123 requisitions GAO reviewed, command country managers overrode the system recommendations and shipped classified and controlled spare parts without documenting the reasons for overriding the system," the report said. "For example, a command country manager overrode the system and shipped four classified target detecting devices without documenting the reasons for overriding the system."

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover

Back to School Sweepstakes