Missile Development:

TSSAM Production Should Not Be Started as Planned

NSIAD-94-52: Published: Oct 8, 1993. Publicly Released: Oct 8, 1993.

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GAO reviewed the Air Force's Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile (TSSAM) program, focusing on: (1) whether the program is ready to enter into low-rate initial production; and (2) the Air Force's progress in addressing the program's past developmental problems.

GAO found that: (1) the TSSAM system has experienced significant testing delays and has not demonstrated its operational effectiveness because of persistent technical problems in its critical subsystems; (2) TSSAM will not meet its planned production schedules unless flight testing increases substantially; (3) although cost-reduction efforts have reduced the scope of the development program, TSSAM unit costs have increased significantly due to developmental problems, testing delays, and a reduction in missile quantities; (4) the Air Force's 1994 funding requests for TSSAM variants and subsystems total $195.9 million; (5) the Air Force does not plan to complete operational testing on TSSAM variants and other subsystems before starting low-rate initial production on TSSAM; and (6) TSSAM initial production is not warranted, since the Air Force has not resolved developmental, technical, testing, and software problems.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress appropriated $160.9 million in advanced procurement funding for TSSAM in FY 1994 ($35 million less than requested). Since funding was provided, the recommendation to consider not providing funding is no longer valid.

    Matter: Because the Air Force predicated its $195.9 million fiscal year (FY) 1994 funding request for TSSAM long-lead procurements on plans to begin producing the combined effects bomblet (CEB) variant in FY 1995 and it is unlikely that it will be ready for production then, Congress may wish to consider not providing the $195.9 million until all critical subsystems for the TSSAM program have proven adequate performance in realistic conditions.

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The FY 1994 Apppropriations Conference Committee report on special access programs requires (1) a Secretary of Defense certification to the defense committees prior to obligation of production funds, and (2) a report of the decision of the long-lead Defense Acquisition Board review.

    Matter: If the funding is provided, Congress may wish to prohibit the Secretary of the Air Force from obligating such funds until the Secretary of Defense certifies to Congress that the above conditions have been met.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In May 1994, DOD began restructuring the $13.7-billion TSSAM program after a series of flight test failures and unresolved technical problems. The restructuring called for: (1) eliminating planned production of the missile's Combined Effects Bomblet (CEB) variant; (2) acquiring up to 15 additional operational test missiles; and (3) extending the development program. On December 9, 1994, the Secretary of Defense announced plans to cancel the TSSAM program because of significant development difficulties and growth in its expected unit cost.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should not allow the TSSAM program to proceed into low-rate initial production until all critical pieces of the CEB variant have been developed and adequately tested. These tests should include both the hardware and the required software. Also, the tests should include production representative components and not systems that will not be a part of the production program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: As discussed in GAO's follow-up report, "Missile Development: Status and Issues at the time of the TSSAM Termination Decision," (GAO/NSIAD-95-46, Jan. 20, 1995), in December 1994 the Secretary of Defense decided to terminate the TSSAM program because of significant development difficulties and growth in its expected unit cost. Because the program has been terminated, the recommendation is no longer applicable.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct that the TSSAM program office demonstrate the more difficult and challenging performance characteristics of the TSSAM system before approving the start of low-rate initial production. In this regard, the demonstration should be under operational conditions and include all the required software necessary for the operation of the missile.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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