Embedded Computer Systems:

New F/A-18 Capabilities Impact Navy's Software Development Process

IMTEC-92-81: Published: Sep 23, 1992. Publicly Released: Oct 23, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Navy's F/A-18 Aircraft, focusing on the: (1) Navy's process for managing software development; and (2) impact of new avionics, weapons, and other subsystems on that processs.

GAO found that: (1) F/A-18 software development becomes more challenging as more capabilities are added to the fighter; (2) reasons for software changes include correction of problems during testing or development, enhancements to existing software, and integration of new avionics, weapons, and subsystems; (3) F/A-18 readily accepts new capabilities and is host platform for 28 other subsystem programs; (4) modifications to software development receive high, medium, and low priority rankings; (5) significant software modifications are required to accommodate the requirements and schedules of other programs and the F/A-18 software baseline; (6) previous software upgrades and fleet enhancements contained problems and experienced delays due to new weapons integration, avionics, and other subsystems given higher priority; (7) deferring correction of less serious problems could increase the severity of existing problems, become hidden in new software, and interfere with new software and subsystems; (8) a lack of modularity creates difficulties in identifying and correcting problems; and (9) reasons deferring problems and enhancements include priority to meet development schedules, unrealistically large amounts of software changes planned, and the cost verses benefits of fixing some problems cannot be justified.

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