US GAO says SOCOM should 'slow down' with Armed Overwatch acquisition

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended that US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) should slow down its acquisition of the AT-802U Sky Warden, pending a more thorough analysis of the fleet size that is needed.

The GAO report, ‘Special Operations Forces: DOD Should Slow Acquisition of Armed Overwatch Aircraft Until It Conducts Needed Analysis’, said that SOCOM’s original study had relied upon unproven assumptions and that 75 Armed Overwatch aircraft were not required. The GAO’s own studies indicated that a “substantially smaller” fleet size would be appropriate in light of force structure ratios and operational need estimates. The GAO has recommended that SOCOM should buy only the minimum number of Sky Warden aircraft necessary to maintain the production line and support Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) – which will begin in 2025 – until a proper analysis has been completed.

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