Live Fire Testing:

Evaluating DOD's Programs

T-PEMD-87-7: Published: Sep 10, 1987. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 1987.

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GAO discussed its assessment of the Department of Defense's (DOD) Joint Live Fire Test Program (JLF), under which the services fire foreign or U.S. munitions at combat-loaded U.S. or foreign weapon systems to determine weapon systems' vulnerability and munitions' lethality. GAO addressed four issues, including the: (1) current status of each system and munition originally scheduled for live-fire testing; (2) methodological quality of the test and evaluation process; (3) advantages and limitations of full-up live-fire testing and potential complementary methods; and (4) improvements needed in live-fire testing. GAO noted that: (1) testing schedules for munitions and systems are as much as 2 years behind, mostly due to conflicts over the purposes and appropriate methods of JLF; (2) JLF methodological quality is affected by conflict over objectives, target availability, statistical validity, shot selection methodology, characterization of human effects, and incentive structure; (3) advantages of full-up live-fire testing include provision of direct visual observation of damage under realistic conditions, and the primary limitation of such testing is its cost; and (4) both technical and general improvements can and should be made in the design, conduct, and interpretation of live-fire tests. GAO believes that the Secretary of Defense should: (1) conduct full-up tests of developing and existing systems; (2) establish guidelines on the role live-fire testing will have in procurement; and (3) ensure that the objective of such testing is the reduction of vulnerability and increase of lethality of U.S. systems.

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