The Subcommittee on Defense requested that GAO provide information on the Battlefield Exploitation and Target Acquisition (BETA) project for forthcoming hearings on the Department of Defense's (DOD) fiscal year 1981 budget. The BETA project is a high risk, joint service effort to develop an experimental test bed for automated collection, analysis, correlation, and dissemination of tactical intelligence data. It was established in 1977 to demonstrate the feasibility and combat utility of prompt coupling of data from target acquisition sensors into tactical combat situation displays and firepower systems. In January 1978, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) established a $46.5 million funding ceiling through fiscal year 1980 to accomplish project objectives. Costs were estimated at $88.2 million through fiscal year 1984 to achieve the original objective which includes $29.4 million for future development after a planned 1980 demonstration. Experience with the BETA test bed is expected to provide technology transfer benefits to service fusion centers, to be developed in the near future. Currently, the contractor has completed a limited demonstration of test bed communications capability. Full system integration tests and an operator training phase are planned prior to the planned demonstration in Europe later this year. Development plans, changes in test bed functional requirements provided to the contractor, and the status of software development have been reviewed to identify problems which might hinder the achievement of project goals. Considerable difficulty has been encountered in developing a BETA test bed with even minimal capability.
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