The Pentagon will be steadily increasing its spending on electronic warfare (EW) programs in the coming five years, growing to about $5.6 billion in fiscal 2017 from $3.6 billion in fiscal 2013, based on analysis and data provided by Avascent 050, an online market analysis toolkit for global defense programs.

That is a reversal of a trend in the latter half of the previous decade, when Defense Department EW spending reached about $3.9 billion in fiscal 2008 and spiked to roughly $4.5 billion in fiscal 2010 before dropping off to $3.3 billion in fiscal 2012. Between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2017, the Pentagon will have spent or is slated to spend a cumulative total of about $44.2 billion, according to the analysis.

The single-largest type of expense — about $28.1 billion — in the coming years will be the actual production of the EW equipment and platforms, the Avascent analysis shows, with EW development running a distant second with $11.2 billion and program management support ranking third with $1.5 billion.

Projected production expenses really ramp up in fiscal 2016 and 2017, with the Pentagon slated to spend at least $3.8 billion during each of those years.

The Defense Department “has committed billions of dollars to developing, maintaining, and employing warfighting capabilities that rely on access to the electromagnetic spectrum,” the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) says in a report released this month.

“DOD’s investments are projected to total more than $17.6 billion from fiscal years 2007 through 2016 for the development and procurement of new and updated fixed-wing airborne electronic attack systems alone,” the GAO notes.

But, the congressional auditors note, the Pentagon needs to do a better job of managing its EW strategy and resources.

For example, the GAO says, the Defense Department has failed to fully address key characteristics in congressionally mandated reports on EW resources, investments, and risk management, organizational roles, responsibilities and coordination.

“The reports identified mechanisms that could foster coordination across the department and identified some investment areas,” the GAO says, “but did not fully identify implementing parties, delineate roles and responsibilities for managing electronic warfare across the department, or link resources and investments to key activities.”

The GAO says such characteristics “can help shape policies, programs, priorities, resource allocation, and standards in a manner that is conducive to achieving intended results and can help ensure that the department is effectively managing electronic warfare.”

The Pentagon also has taken steps to address a “critical electronic warfare management gap,” the GAO says, “but it has not established a department-wide governance framework for electronic warfare.”