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The DD(X) destroyer--a surface ship intended to expand the Navy's littoral warfare capabilities--depends on the development of a number of new technologies to meet its requirements. The Navy intends to authorize detailed design and construction of the first ship in March 2005. GAO's past work has shown that developing advanced systems that rely heavily on new technologies requires a disciplined, knowledge-based approach to ensure cost, schedule, and performance targets are met. Best practices show, for example, that a program should not be launched before critical technologies are sufficiently matured--that is, the technology has been demonstrated in its intended environment--and that a design should be stabilized by the critical design review. Given the complexity of the DD(X) system and the number of new technologies involved, GAO was asked to describe the Navy's acquisition strategy for DD(X) and how it relates to best practices, and how efforts to mature critical technologies are proceeding.

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