Embedded Computers:

B-1B Computers Must Be Upgraded to Support Conventional Requirements

AIMD-96-28: Published: Feb 27, 1996. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Air Force's B-1B Bomber Conventional Mission Upgrade Program, focusing on the Air Force's decision to upgrade the bomber's embedded computer systems in light of concerns raised in previous reviews.

GAO found that: (1) because of limited resources, the Air Force originally planned a simple memory upgrade, but that upgrade would not support the addition of new conventional weapons system capabilities or reduce the maintenance costs of the outdated computers and software; (2) the memory upgrade would not increase the existing computers' processing speed, making the computers incapable of performing critical functions or meeting system requirements; (3) the Air Force has increased funding so it can replace the existing computers with more sophisticated software; (4) the Air Force expects to award a contract for the computer upgrade design in April 1996 and complete work by January 1997; (5) the Air Force could save over $800 million in software maintenance and support costs over the 20-year life of the upgraded aircraft; and (6) it is critical that the Air Force ensure that the upgraded computers will support the planned conventional weapons and capability requirements for the B-1B bomber.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and took action to ensure that the B-1B computer upgrade solution will be able to accommodate all planned B-1B weapons and enhancements, meet the Air Force Air Combat Command's B-1B weapons interoperability requirement, allow for sufficient growth capability in spare memory and throughput capacity for the future, and ensure that the computer solution reduces B-1B life-cycle software maintenance costs. In November 1996, the Air Force successfully completed a system functional review resulting in software and hardware requirements being baselined to include current and planned B-1B weapons capabilities. The Air Force subsequently awarded an engineering and manufacturing development contract to Boeing on January 30, 1997 to upgrade the B-1B computers.

    Recommendation: When bids are being considered for the B-1B embedded computer system upgrade the Secretary of Defense should ensure that the upgrade will accommodate all currently planned B-1B weapons and capability enhancements (not including the defense system or the central integrated test system).

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and took action to ensure that the B-1B computer upgrade solution will be able to accommodate all planned B-1B weapons and enhancements, meet the Air Force Air Combat Command's B-1B weapons interoperability requirement, allow for sufficient growth capability in spare memory and throughput capacity for the future, and ensure that the computer solution reduces B-1B life-cycle software maintenance costs. The Air Force awarded a contract to Lockheed International on May 14, 1996, to define hardware and software requirements for the B-1B Bomber. The Air Force intends to conduct the system functional review in October 1996, and select a vendor no later than January 1997 for the computer upgrade.

    Recommendation: When bids are being considered for the B-1B embedded computer system upgrade, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that the upgrade will meet the B-1B weapons interoperability requirement (three types of weapons per mission).

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and took action to ensure that the B-1B computer upgrade solution will be able to accommodate all planned B-1B weapons and enhancements, meet the Air Force Air Combat Command's B-1B weapons interoperability requirement, allow for sufficient growth capability in spare memory and throughput capacity for the future, and ensure that the computer solution reduces B-1B life-cycle software maintenance costs. The Air Force awarded a contract to Lockheed International on May 14, 1996, to define hardware and software requirements for the B-1B Bomber. The Air Force intends to conduct the system functional review in October 1996, and select a vendor no later than January 1997 for the computer upgrade.

    Recommendation: When bids are being considered for the B-1B embedded computer system upgrade, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that the upgrade will reduce the risks of additional costly computer upgrades in the future.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and took action to ensure that the B-1B computer upgrade solution will be able to accommodate all planned B-1B weapons and enhancements, meet the Air Force Air Combat Command's B-1B weapons interoperability requirement, allow for sufficient growth capability in spare memory and throughput capacity for the future, and ensure that the computer solution reduces B-1B life-cycle software maintenance costs. The Air Force awarded a contract to Lockheed International on May 14, 1996, to define hardware and software requirements for the B-1B Bomber. The Air Force intends to conduct the system functional review in October 1996, and select a vendor no later than January 1997 for the computer upgrade.

    Recommendation: When bids are being considered for the B-1B embedded computer system upgrade, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that the upgrade will allow for the necessary spare memory and throughput capacity to accommodate future growth.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and took action to ensure that the B-1B computer upgrade solution will be able to accommodate all planned B-1B weapons and enhancements, meet the Air Force Air Combat Command's B-1B weapons interoperability requirement, allow for sufficient growth capability in spare memory and throughput capacity for the future, and ensure that the computer solution reduces B-1B life-cycle software maintenance costs. In November 1996, the Air Force successfully completed a system functional review resulting in software and hardware requirements being baselined to include current and planned B-1B weapons capabilities. The Air Force subsequently awarded an engineering and manufacturing development contract to Boeing on January 30, 1997 to upgrade the B-1B computers.

    Recommendation: When bids are being considered for the B-1B embedded computer system upgrade, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that the upgrade will reduce software maintenance costs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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