Precision-Guided Munitions:

Acquisition Plans for the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile

NSIAD-96-144: Published: Jun 28, 1996. Publicly Released: Jun 28, 1996.

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GAO evaluated the Air Force's and Navy's Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) program, focusing on: (1) the acquisition process; (2) schedule and cost risks; (3) the Air Force's plan to acquire 35 pilot production missiles; and (4) the Navy's commitment to the program.

GAO found that: (1) the Air Force is using an innovative acquisition process to procure JASSM; (2) the Air Force expects JASSM contractors to modify existing missile designs, use off-the-shelf technology, and apply best commercial practices to their design and production work; (3) some crucial JASSM technologies may not be mature in time for them to be integrated into JASSM; (4) JASSM may be vulnerable to jamming, and the Air Force is trying to identify a cost-effective countermeasure; (5) a JASSM automatic target recognition capability is still under development; (6) the Air Force will phase in integration of JASSM with combat aircraft, undertaking separate programs to integrate the missile with each type of aircraft as funds become available; (7) the Air Force plans to acquire 35 pilot production missiles, but those missiles may not be needed for testing, and may not represent the actual production configuration; (8) the Air Force's unit price goal for JASSM is optimistic when compared to similar missile procurement programs; (9) the Navy has not provided JASSM development funding, but carrier operability is a firm JASSM requirement, and the Navy expects to commit funds for JASSM integration with the F/A-18 aircraft after JASSM development; and (10) the need for JASSM may not be as urgent as the Air Force believes.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress considered the matter but decided to provide funds for pilot production missiles in fiscal year 1999.

    Matter: Because the Air Force's plan to manufacture 35 pilot production missiles early in development increases schedule risk and results in buying developmental missiles that are not needed to support the planned test program, Congress may wish to consider not providing the estimated $25 million for the 35 pilot production missiles.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and cited actions being taken or planned to implement the recommendation. DOD said that: (1) the JASSM approach is to ensure concurrent engineering and robust transition to production efforts from the beginning; and (2) there is commitment to ensure that production-representative missiles are provided for operational testing. According to the Air Force's August 1999 schedule, initial operational test and evaluation is scheduled to begin during March, 2001. However, the Air Force has now determined that the engineering and manufacturing development phase will be extended by 10 months. Therefore, dates for operational testing are likely to be slipped.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that missiles used during planned initial operational test and evaluation are production-representative missiles.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD reviewed the Air Force's plans and stated that it agreed with the Air Force's plans to use these missiles for maturing the production process, for certain tests, for flight test spares, and for an early deployment option.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Air Force does not acquire the 35 pilot production missiles early in development without a demonstrated need for additional test missiles.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD's Critical Design Review has taken place and technologies have been decided upon. Production representative missiles are being produced.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that required autonomous guidance and automatic target recognition technologies are mature before finalizing the JASSM design.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Although the Navy does not have current plans to procure JASSM missiles, the JASSM design will meet both Air Force and Navy requirements.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Navy participates fully in the program so the final JASSM design meets both Air Force and Navy requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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