Follow-on Operational Testing and Evaluation of Weapons Systems

PSAD-79-1: Published: Oct 19, 1978. Publicly Released: Oct 19, 1978.

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A survey of practices and procedures for follow-on operational testing and evaluation of weapon systems by the military services indicated that follow-on tests have been conducted adequately. However, cases were noted where critical testing was deferred until after a production decision was made, and full-scale operational testing has been conducted after weapon systems have been produced and deployed. In the Army, critical tests needed to support a low-rate production decision were deferred until after production units were available. In the Air Force, most operational testing prior to the initial production decision is combined with testing performed by developers; this does not constitute sufficient operational testing. Unlike the Army and the Air Force, the Navy usually performs sufficient operational testing before production decisions, but the Navy also continues to conduct full scale operational testing after systems have been deployed. Some operational testing of complex weapon systems will be necessary after production decisions are made; this could occur when there are changes in threat, major system modifications, or changes in doctrine or tactics. The Secretary of Defense should: (1) ensure that operational tests critical to determining system effectiveness and suitability are accomplished prior to initial production decisions; and (2) in cases where systems have undergone full operational test and evaluation, restrict additional testing to cases of significant changes in mission, threat, tactics, or system modifications.

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