Better Management of Threat Simulators and Aerial Targets Is Crucial to Effective Weapon Systems Performance

MASAD-83-27: Published: Jun 23, 1983. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 1983.

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GAO reported on the Department of Defense's (DOD) capability to test its weapon systems. Specifically, GAO focused on the adequacy of aerial targets and on testing against two of the more significant threats to the military services: (1) the newer Soviet aircraft and missile systems; and (2) the Soviet's considerable capabilities in electronic warfare.

GAO found that important weapons will be deployed without their having fully demonstrated their capabilities under representative combat conditions, because development of electronic warfare threat simulators and aerial targets have not kept pace with the deployment of the enemy's weapons. Realistic testing requires test resources that duplicate the characteristics of the enemy's weapon systems. GAO noted that the shortcomings in testing have been primarily caused by problems in four areas: test resource planning, organizational structures, management emphasis, and intelligence support. GAO believes that, although resolving issues in these areas will not solve all testing problems, it will ultimately result in better tested and more effective weapons for DOD fighting forces.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A similar point will be made by GAO in its current report on concurrency, which is in final processing. Hopefully, DOD will take action after this report is issued.

    Matter: Congress should monitor DOD implementation of: (1) the joint-service aerial target and electronic warfare test resource improvement program; and (2) the separation of test resource and weapon system acquisition management in the Navy and the Air Force.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Although DOD is spending more money on simulators and targets to implement GAO recommendations, there is no evidence that an improvement program has been set up prioritizing DOD-wide test resource deficiencies.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, to improve the planning and management of critical test resources, should establish a joint-service threat simulator and aerial target improvement program to identify, time phase, and prioritize DOD-wide test resource deficiencies, and start development of the resources necessary to match the test capability with current requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: It has been 2 years since GAO issued its report. It looks very doubtful that DOD is going to take any action on this matter.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, to improve the planning and management of critical test resources, should transfer Navy and Air Force threat simulator and aerial target acquisition responsibility to an organization separate from the weapon systems development activity. The gaining organization should have, as does the Army's threat simulator organization, the independence, authority, responsibility, and funds to ensure the successful acquisition of test resources.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Based upon information contained in the fiscal year 1986 Program Element Descriptive Summaries, it appears that DOD has taken action and provided additional funding to improve electronic warfare simulators and aerial targets.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, to improve the planning and management of critical test resources, should require electronic warfare and aerial target test resources developers to work closely with the weapon developers and test agencies during early test planning to identify the critical test resources needed to fully assess weapon system effectiveness.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Based upon DOD comments received on a GAO concurrency report, it appears that DOD is placing much more emphasis on improving the adequacy of TEMP's.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, to improve the planning and management of critical test resources, should require operational test and evaluation agencies to state in the initial TEMP their ability, or inability, to adequately assess a weapon's operational suitability and effectiveness, given currently available test resources. The adequacy of test resources and the effect of inadequate or incomplete testing should be clearly spelled out.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Comments recently received from DOD on a GAO draft report on concurrency indicate that more emphasis is being given to the quality and timeliness of TEMP's.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, to improve the planning and management of critical test resources, should require predemonstration/validation phase TEMP's to state whether or not test resource requirements are available and outline what actions have been or need to be taken to develop or acquire those not available. In addition, the effect of being unable to test against the full threat spectrum should be clearly identified.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation recently came into existence and would be the more appropriate office to implement this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, to improve the planning and management of critical test resources, should require the Director, Defense Test and Evaluation, to enforce existing requirements for the preparation and approval of weapon system Test and Evaluation Master Plans (TEMP's) before the demonstration/validation and subsequent decision milestones.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: It has been 2 years since GAO issued its report and it is doubtful whether DOD will take any action on this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, to improve the planning and management of critical test resources, should initiate a review of intelligence support to identify the underlying causes and to solve the problems of inadequate support to the threat simulator development community. In particular, the appropriateness of Defense Intelligence Agency assignments to the service intelligence organizations and the capability of those organizations to support both weapon designers and the test community should be examined and changes made where appropriate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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