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Premature Weapons Testing Drains Military Budget

Triton

Donald McKelvy
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"Premature Weapons Testing Drains Military Budget"
by Brendan McGarry Friday, January 31st, 2014 12:44 am

Source:
http://www.dodbuzz.com/2014/01/31/premature-weapons-testing-drains-military-budget/

The U.S. Defense Department’s top weapons tester had plenty of bad news this week for some of the military’s most expensive weapons programs — from the F-35 fighter jet to the Littoral Combat Ship.

In his annual report to Congress, J. Michael Gilmore, director of the Pentagon’s Operational Test and Evaluation office, said the fifth-generation fighter has cracked during testing and isn’t ready for combat operations, and that the LCS has had problems with their guns, mine-countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare systems.

But perhaps even more troubling was his assertion that acquisition officials, in some cases, continue to approve programs that aren’t ready for operational testing — a practice that creates costlier problems down the road.

“While always important, it is especially important in the current fiscal climate that system reliability is emphasized early in the acquisition process. Reliable systems cost less overall (because they require less maintenance and fewer spare parts), are more likely to be available when called upon, and enable a longer system lifespan,” according to the report.

Gilmore has added a section to the report specifically to assess problems found too late in the process. The move was “based on concerns from Congress that significant problems in acquisition programs are being discovered during operational testing that arguably should have been discovered in developmental testing,” he writes.

In 2013, 44 programs had “significant” problems discovered during so-called initial operational test and evaluation, known in acquisition parlance as IOT&E, according to the report. Of these, a dozen had issues that surfaced for the first time and should have been found and fixed earlier.

Among these were the Army’s battlefield communications network called the Warfighter Information Network — Tactical, or WIN-T, being developed by General Dynamics Corp.; AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM, made by Raytheon Co.; and the Mk 54 Lightweight Torpedo, also made by Raytheon.

This isn’t a new problem.

Program managers have repeatedly defied his office’s recommendations and let weapons systems prematurely enter initial operational test — a phase when finding “significant issues” in a system should be rare.

Previously, for instance, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for developmental test and evaluation, a position now held by C. David Brown, determined that four of seven weapons programs should not enter operational testing, but they “proceeded anyway,” according to last year’s assessment. As expected, all but one program had “significant issues” during evaluation, including the Joint Tactical Radio System’s Handheld, Manpack and Small Form Fit program.

The latter is among 10 programs in this year’s assessment in which the problems identified in development testing resurfaced during operational testing.

The report strikes an optimistic note in that most program managers in recent years implemented fixes to problems that appeared during operational testing. “While significant issues are being discovered late in the acquisition cycle, most programs are addressing the discoveries and verifying fixes in follow-on operational testing.”

Overall, though, the trends are headed in the wrong direction, according to the document.

During the 17-year period from fiscal 1997 through fiscal 2013, 75 out of 135 weapons systems, or 56 percent, met or exceeded reliability threshold requirements during operational testing, it states. That’s down from almost 64 percent from the 12-year period from fiscal 1985 through fiscal 1996.
 

Triton

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"Analysis: OT&E Report Details Systemic Failures in US Weapon Testing"
(Source: Defense-Aerospace.com; published Feb. 03, 2014)
by Giovanni de Briganti

Source:
http://www.defense-aerospace.com/cgi-bin/client/modele.pl?shop=dae&modele=feature&prod=151275&cat=5

PARIS --- As in previous years, the annual report to Congress by J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, detailed so many unexpected flaws in major US weapon programs that these, understandably, dominated news coverage.

But Gilmore’s 16-page introduction to his 368-page report is actually far more worrying as it paints a very disturbing picture of how US military services and the Joint Staff are complicit in rigging development tests to move programs into production as soon as possible, whatever their shortcomings.

This should be of far greater concern than performance shortfalls in individual programs, because, if not stopped, it will lead to US military going to war with entire arsenals of weapons that meet neither military requirements nor contractual specifications.

In this respect, Gilmore’s is a lone voice in the desert, and it is clear that his concerns are ignored by the services, as shown by the example of the Boeing P-8A Poseidon that he uses to make his point.

Support Industry or Protect Warfighters?

Other ranking Pentagon officials seem more interested in supporting industry than in ensuring that it delivers weapons that work as stipulated. Back in Nov. 28, 2012, for example, Reuters reported that “The Pentagon's chief weapons buyer … reassured industry executives and investors that there was still "a lot of money" to be made in the defense business.” (H/T to Dan Bacon for digging out this story.)

The story quotes Frank Kendall, then acting defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, as insisting that “the department was not out to cut industry's profits, saying that the Pentagon viewed weapons makers as part of its overall "force structure" and was looking for more "win-win" deals that save money while rewarding good performance.”

Kendall, it should be noted, is the same man who famously stated that “Putting the F-35 into production years before the first test flight was acquisition malpractice” when he was only “acting” procurement chief. Since he was confirmed as undersecretary, however, he has changed his tune, and now approves procurement practices that encourage early service introduction, and leave any problems left to be fixed when and as upgrades and fixes become available.

Rigging development tests

Gilmore does not think this makes sense. In the introduction to his report, he says that “This year, I have found several cases where the testing I determined to be adequate [went] beyond the narrow definitions in the requirements document(s) established by the Services and Joint Staff."

Specifically, he noted that test “requirements … are narrowly defined to specific conditions, when the Services will certainly employ the system in other conditions,” and adds that he “provided a specific example of the former case to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

In other words, tests are rigged to ensure programs move along the procurement process with as little disruption as possible, because they satisfy performance criteria that are tailor-made to ensure they are easily met.

P-8A Poseidon: Not Mission Effective, But in Full-Scale Production

What is Gilmore’s “specific example?” He told the JCS Vice Chairman that “the P-8A Multi-Mission Maritime Patrol Aircraft could be fully compliant with all Key Performance Parameter (KPP) and Key System Attribute (KSA) threshold requirements, and nonetheless possess significant shortfalls in mission effectiveness.”

He also added that “The P-8 requirements define supporting system characteristics or attributes that are necessary, but not nearly sufficient, to ensure mission effectiveness.”

In an extreme case, he continues, “the contractor could deliver an aircraft that meets all the KPPs but has no mission capability whatsoever. Such an airplane would only have to be designed to be reliable, equipped with self-protection features and radios, and capable of transporting weapons and sonobuoys across the specified distances, but would not actually have to have the ability to successfully find and sink threat submarines in an Anti-Submarine Warfare mission (its primary mission).”

So how did the Joint Chiefs and the US Navy react to the “specific example” of the P-8A, which Gilmore concluded “is not effective for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission, and is not effective for wide area anti-submarine search?”

First of all, and no doubt coincidentally, the commander of the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet just happened to fly an 8-hour mission on the P-8A over the East China Sea on the same day Gilmore’s report was made public.

This event was reported Jan. 28 by the Navy News Service: “Adm. Harry Harris, Pacific Fleet commander, saw firsthand the advanced capabilities of the P-8A Poseidon….the mission highlighted the full range of the Poseidon's game-changing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.”

These claims are the exact opposite of Gilmore’s conclusions. But Gilmore’s conclusions don’t matter, since 11 days earlier the US Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) had already announced it had approved the P-8A for full-rate production.

The Navair press release said that “the approval, reached Jan. 3 from the FRP Milestone Decision Authority, will allow the program office, resource sponsor, acquisition community and industry to continue to deliver the P-8A to the fleet with the required capabilities needed to ensure the squadrons are getting a stable and efficient system.”, again contradicting Gilmore’s report, which clearly says the system does not have the required capabilities, and is neither effective nor efficient.

Why test at all?

Given the P-8A and other procurement horror stories like the Littoral Combat Ship and the F-35 fighter, it is truly wondrous that the Pentagon has not decided to simply abandon testing weapons, and instead to simply take whatever industry provides, “as is.”

Gilmore is to be commended for two separate reasons. The first is that he continues to produce some of the most intellectually honest reports coming out of the Pentagon bureaucracy despite the fact that they are largely ignored by the Pentagon and by Congress.

The second is that, having produced his reports, he adopts a civil servant’s model behavior and lets his work to be judged on its merits, without seeking publicity or controversy. It is a miracle that he has not yet resigned in frustration.

This is indeed commendable for a civil servant. But the downside to his modest, low-key approach is that without pro-active follow-up such reports are conveniently filed after a couple of weeks, while the system grinds on regardless.

At that Nov. 2012 conference, Frank Kendall told industry that “We're in this together. The health of the industrial base is very important," and he has certainly demonstrated since that he practices what he preaches.

But he still has to deliver on another promise -- “to better align profits paid to defense contractors with improved performance,” according to the Reuters news story – but each successive OT&E report shows this is becoming ever less likely.
 

jsport

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Triton said:
"Premature Weapons Testing Drains Military Budget"
by Brendan McGarry Friday, January 31st, 2014 12:44 am

Source:
http://www.dodbuzz.com/2014/01/31/premature-weapons-testing-drains-military-budget/

The U.S. Defense Department’s top weapons tester had plenty of bad news this week for some of the military’s most expensive weapons programs — from the F-35 fighter jet to the Littoral Combat Ship.

In his annual report to Congress, J. Michael Gilmore, director of the Pentagon’s Operational Test and Evaluation office, said the fifth-generation fighter has cracked during testing and isn’t ready for combat operations, and that the LCS has had problems with their guns, mine-countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare systems.

But perhaps even more troubling was his assertion that acquisition officials, in some cases, continue to approve programs that aren’t ready for operational testing — a practice that creates costlier problems down the road.

“While always important, it is especially important in the current fiscal climate that system reliability is emphasized early in the acquisition process. Reliable systems cost less overall (because they require less maintenance and fewer spare parts), are more likely to be available when called upon, and enable a longer system lifespan,” according to the report.

Gilmore has added a section to the report specifically to assess problems found too late in the process. The move was “based on concerns from Congress that significant problems in acquisition programs are being discovered during operational testing that arguably should have been discovered in developmental testing,” he writes.

In 2013, 44 programs had “significant” problems discovered during so-called initial operational test and evaluation, known in acquisition parlance as IOT&E, according to the report. Of these, a dozen had issues that surfaced for the first time and should have been found and fixed earlier.

Among these were the Army’s battlefield communications network called the Warfighter Information Network — Tactical, or WIN-T, being developed by General Dynamics Corp.
https://www.c4isrnet.com/it-networks/2017/09/09/white-house-supports-us-army-battlefield-network-in-looming-ndaa-fight/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Brief%209/9/17&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Daily%20Brief

Dennis Miller couldn't right a better joke than the entire WIN-T program. Even now Congress can't kill that orange elephant because the Army doesn't have a backup plan even though it has never worked after all this time. There are technologies that could have fixed it a long time ago but...
 

Grey Havoc

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Speaking of the WIN-T system: http://www.tboverse.us/HPCAFORUM/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=22428

Yet another COTS/Transformational trainwreck...
 
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