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GAO: DoD, FAA Should Address Security Risks Associated With ADS-B Avionics Implementation

The Government Accountability Office has urged the Defense Department and the Federal Aviation Administration to mitigate security risks associated with the installation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out avionics on military aircraft.

GAO said Thursday individuals can use “readily available” public information to track military aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out.

The aircraft tracking technology also faces electronic warfare and cybersecurity threats, according to the report.

FAA directed all aircraft owners, including DoD, to equip their aircraft with ADS-B Out technology by Jan. 1, 2020 as part of the agency’s NextGen initiative that aims to upgrade the existing ground-based air transportation system into a satellite-powered system.

The ADS-B implementation involves the elimination of certain radars, which could pose a homeland security risk since the North American Aerospace Defense Command uses data from FAA radars to monitor air traffic, GAO added.

DoD and FAA may not have enough time to plan and carry out required actions before January 2020 if they do not launch efforts to address security risks related to ADS-B Out, the congressional watchdog noted.

Auditors also found that DoD has fully implemented only two of the eight recommendations in the department’s 2007 NextGen memorandum, while four others are partially implemented and two have yet to be executed.

DoD has formed a joint program office and designated a service branch to lead ADS-B Out implementation in line with the 2007 memorandum.

The department has partially confirmed ADS-B Out requirements, created a directive, released an implementation plan and integrated NextGen into its planning, budgeting and programming activities.

DoD has yet to provide periodic and recurring NextGen progress reports to the deputy secretary of defense as well as incorporate the requirements of DoD units into plans and policies for NextGen joint planning and development.

GAO called on DoD and FAA to approve one or more efforts to address ADS-B security risks and recommended DOD to take steps to achieve consistent long-term planning and implementation of NextGen.

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