Ballistic Missile Defense: Prototype THAAD System

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-03-27.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

United States
General Accounting  OlYice
Washington, D.C. 20548

National Security and
International Affairs Division


March 27, 1997

Congressional Committees:

Subject: Ballistic Missile Defense: Prototvoe THAAD Svstem

During our ongoing review of the Army and the Ballistic Missile Defense
Organization’s development of the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)
missile program, we raised issues about the procurement of the prototype
-the          TH&ID User Operational Evaluation System (UOES). In July 1996,
we reported’ our concern that funding will be committed to THAAD UOES
interceptors well before testing provides a basis for assessing the UOES’s
operational effectiveness. We expressed an additional concern regarding
Tl3iU.D UOES test limitations in a Letter of Inquiry to the Secretary of
Defense.2 In that January 6, 1997, inquiry, we questioned the Army’s current
plan to base a decision on UOES interceptor production on the results of test
flight 7, then scheduled for late February 1997, using a different focal plane
arrag-platinum silicide-in the interceptor’s seeker than the focal plane array-
indium antimonide -which would be installed in all UOES interceptors. We
asked the Department of Defense (DOD) to respond to questions relating to the
risk of basing a production decision on a configuration different from that
planned for production.

We provided you copies of that letter and we noted that we would also
distribute copies of DOD’s response. (See enclosure for DOD’s answers to our

Test flight 7 was conducted on March 6, and like all three previous T?L%D
intercept tests, the interceptor failed to hit its target. DOD now plans to base
the UOES production decision on test flight 8, scheduled for mid-1997, if it is
successful. The interceptor for test flight 8 is to contain the same type seeker

‘BaUistic Missile Defense: Issues Concerning Acauisition of THAAD Protome Svstem (GAOfNSIAD-
96136, July 9, 1996).

%rototvDe THAAD Svstem (GAO/W&D-97-70R, January 6, 1997).

%he THUD focal plane array is a heat-sensitive device that performs thermal imaging for tracking,
discrinkation, and aim point selection of targets to achieve hit-to-kill engagements.

                     GAO/NSlAD-97-137R DOD Response/Prototype THAAD System


that will be installed on the UOES interceptors. As a consequence, our concern
about producing a configuration different than the one tested and DOD’s
response have become moot.

DOD, however, still plans to commit over $200 million to UOES interceptor
production on the basis of a single successful intercept and despite four
consecutive failures. Therefore, our initial concern about the limited amount of
testing planned before UOES interceptor production remains. As we reported
in July 1996, based on current plans, DOD w-ill commit funds for producing 40
UOES interceptors well before testing provides assurance of the UOES system’s
capabilities. Our work has repeatedly shown that when production of weapon
systems began on the basis of schedule or other considerations rather than on
the basis of technical maturity, major design changes were often needed to
correct problems. The design changes frequently led to additional testing and
costly retrofit of units already produced.* Because sufiticient data for a limited
assessment of the operational effectiveness of the UOES system will not be
available until limited user tests are completed in 1998, DOD risks acquiring a
system that might not be capable enough to warrant its deployment in an

In preparing this letter, we obtained current program schedule and test
information from the THMD project office in Huntsville, Alabama. This review
was ‘performed under our basic legislative responsibility. We are addressing this
letter to you because the issue we raise falls under your Committee’s
jurisdiction. We are also making copies of this letter available to others upon

If you have any questions, please contact me at (202) 512-4841. Lee Edwards,
Assistant Director, and Stan Lipscomb, Evaluator-in-Charge, also contributed to
the information in this letter.


4SeeWeaoonsAcauisition: Low-Rate Initial Production Used to Buv WeaDon Svstems F’rematurelv
(GAO/NSIAD-9518,Nov. 21, 1994).

Page 2              GAOINSIAD-97-137R DOD Response/Prototype THAAD System
 List of Committees

 The Honorable Strom Thurmond
 The Honorable Carl Levin
 Ranking Minority Member
 Committee on Armed Services
 United States Senate

 The Honorable Ted Stevens
 The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
 Ranking Minority Member
 Subcommittee on Defense
 Committee on Appropriations
 United States Senate

 The Honorable Floyd D. Spence
 The Honorable Ronald V. Dellurns
 Ranking Minority Member
 Committee on National Security
 House of Representatives

 The Honorable C.W. Bill Young
 Chairman    I
 The Honorable John P. Murtha
 Ranking Minority Member
 Subcommittee on National Security
 Committee on Appropriations
 House of Representatives

Page 3           GAOINSIAD-97-137R DOD Response/Prototype THAAD System
.ENCLOSURE I                                                                                      ENCLOSURE I

                           OFFICE    OF THE   UNDER        SECRETARY         OF DEFENSE
                                            3000 DEFENSE   PENTAGON
                                          WASHINGTON,    DC 20301-3000

                                                                             February 6, 1997
          Mr. Thomas Schulz
          Associate    Director
          Defense Acquisition      Issues
          National    Security  and International
            Affairs    Division
          U.S. General Accounting       Office
          Washington,     D.C. 20548
          Dear Mr.        Schulz:
                This is the Department    of Defense (DOD) response to the
          General Accounting   Office   (GAO) Letter  of Inquiry GAO/NSIAD-97-
          70R, "Theater   High Altitude   Area Defense Prototype  Interceptors,"
          dated January 6, 1997 (GAO Code 707232), OSD Case 1275.
                 The DOD detailed   comments           in response           to the questions      are
          provided   in the enclosure.


                                              George R. Schneiter
                                              Strategic and Tactical              Systems

                 Page 4             GAO/NSIAD-97-137R        DOD Response/Prototype             THAAD System
ENCLOSURE I                                                                               ENCLOSURE I

                        GAO Letter   of Inquiry              GAO/NSIAD-97-70R
                                  Dated January               6, 1997
                             (GAO Code 707232),              OSD Case 1275


                                             *   *   *   *   *

                             DEPARTMEXT OF DEFENSE COMMENTS

   Question     1:   How does DOD justify    basing a production        decision     for
   User Operational      Evaluation    System (UOES) interceptors        on a test of
   a single   intercept     (if successful)   with a platinum     silicide       (PtSi)
   seeker while planning        to produce interceptors    with the indium
   antimonide     (InSb) seeker?

   DOD Response:     The decision     to award the UOES option      is based upon
   confidence   in the extensive      testing     conducted to date on both the
   PtSi and InSb seekers and their          high degree of component
   commonality.     To clarify    statements      made in the Background section
   of the GAO's letter,       the InSb seeker is less, not more complex than
   the PtSi seeker.      The InSb seeker components are approximately          95%
   common with the PtSi seeker.          The platform,     optics, and gimbals are
   identical,   while other components,         such as the seeker electronics
   assembly and the dewar, are nearly           identical.
          The fabrication,        calibration,        and integration       of an InSb focal
   plane is also less complex than with PtSi.                      Although      the InSb focal
   plane will      require    different        signal   processing      software      (SW), the
   development       and coding is proceeding             on schedule.        In addition,
   Hardware-In-The-Loop           (HWIL) testing        is nearing      completion       and has
   demonstrated       the ability       of an InSb seeker, software,               and the
   flight    test computer to successfully                perform target        acquisition.
   The similarity        between the PtSi and the InSb seekers and their
   demonstrated       performance       in stand-alone        seeker testing        provide
   confidence      in the decision         to exercise      the UOES option.
          Additionally,        the planned intercept          on Flight    Test 7 (FT-07)
   culminates        in more than meeting "one minimal criterion."                  Each
   flight     test is directed        at achieving        a number of objectives       to
   include      the intercept.        A large majority         of these flight     objectives
   have been met during previous               tests.      With respect     to the missile
   kill    vehicle,      objectives     already met include         shroud separation,
   target     acquisition,        and closed-loop       tracking    and navigation     in
   response       to the radar's      In Flight       Target Update (IFTU).        An
   intercept        on FT-07 will     confirm     the system's      end-to-end    capability.
        Finally,    this is not a production  decision.    The THAAD program
   is in the Program Definition      and Risk Reduction   Phase of the
   acquisition   life    cycle. The UOES consists    of development  hardware

    Page 5               GAO/NSIAD-97-137R           DOD Response/Prototype        TBAAD System
ENCLOSURE I                                                                            ENCLOSURE I

    of this early      phaseof   the THAAD development,   and lessons   learned
    in subsequent      testing  have always been contemplated    to correct
    deficiencies,      to improve performance,   and to gain more insight      into
    the objective      system development.
    Question     2:   How and by whom has the         InSb seeker's      performance     been

    DOD Response:        Lockheed Martin Infrared           Imaging Systems (LMIRIS)
    has characterized        performance       of the InSb seeker through          a series
    of engineering       development     and acceptance        tests.    The InSb seeker
    has satisfactorily         completed all acceptance           test procedures      at
    LMIRIS.     Due to the commonality           of the seekers,       many of the tests
    for the InSb seeker are similar              to those performed       on the PtSi
    seeker.     Integration       of the InSb seeker with the flight              computer
    has also been demonstrated           at Lockheed Martin Missiles            and Space
     (LMMS) in Sunnyvale.          Although extensive        integration     testing    is
    planned prior      to the flight,        the interfaces       and operation      of the
    seeker with the flight          computer have been successfully
    demonstrated.        Integrated     testing,     combined with stand-alone
    testing,    provides     confidence      in the InSb seeker performance.

    Question    3:    What is the cost, schedule,  and performance    risk
     associated    with the InSb seeker?    Also, what is the current      status
     of InSb seeker production     and the most recent experience     with the
     rejection    rate during production   of the InSb and the PtSi seekers?
    DOD Response:         The cost risk associated        with the UOES missile
     option     is low.     The Dem/Val contract      was awarded when the THAAD
     concept consisted        of paper studies.       Since then, missiles         have been
     fabricated      and undergone extensive       component and flight         testing,
     which produced a more mature design.              Lockheed Martin provided             a
     proposed estimate,         based largely   on subcontractor       proposals,        which
     compares favorably         to a Government estimate        based on Dem/Val
     actuals.      Further,     Lockheed Martin has worked closely          with the
     subcontractors       to understand     and refine    the cost estimates,         thus
     resulting     in a proposal      that has essentially       been negotiated         prior
     to the option       award.    The   THAAD Project    Office    is currently.
     investigating       options    which could further      abate the cost risk
     associated      with the UOES option.
           The schedule    risk for the InSb seeker is lower than for the
     PtSi seeker.      InSb focal planes are two to three times more
     producible    than PtSi.     The InSb focal plane arrays are off-the-
     shelf   items and, therefore,       have a shorter      delivery   lead time than
     PtSi focal planes.        In addition,     the fact   that    they are off-the-
     shelf allows     for individual     selection    of the highest      quality    focal
     planes from the on-hand supply.

    Page 6               GAO/NSIAD-97-137R       DOD Response/Prototype         THAAD System
ENCLOSURE I                                                                                     ENCLOSURE I

           With respect     to the status     of InSb production,   InSb seeker
    manufacturing      is'underway     for the remainder     of the Dem/Val flight
    tests.     To date, four units have been fabricated,           and time to
    assemble, integrate,         and test the four units      has been demonstrated
    to be shorter     than required       for the PtSi seeker.
         The performance    risk associated     with this effort        is low.     The
    THAAD program initiated      the development     and introduction        of the
    InSb seeker to reduce program risk based on the marginal
    performance    of the PtSi seekers against       known threat       scenarios.
    The InSb seeker is capable of two to three times the acquisition
    range of the PtSi seeker and meets performance             requirements      for the
    objective   system, which PtSi does not.         Extensive     testing     conducted
    on the InSb seeker has confirmed        its capability      to meet the THAAD
    program requirements      and reduce overall     program risk.

    Question    4:   Will production     of UOES interceptors        with InSb seekers
    continue    if test flight    8 using an InSb seeker fails           to hit its
    target?     If this occurs and production        continues,      can seekers be
    retrofitted    to correct    problems?     If production      stops, what is the
    cost of stopping      and restarting    the production      line?

   DOD Response:         Manufacture       of the UOES interceptors              may be impacted
   if the InSb seeker fails            to perform on flight             test 8. This test is
   scheduled      for June 1997, three months after                  the UOES contract            award
   is planned.        Stopping manufacturing,              however,     is not anticipated,
   since the seeker is integrated                 during the latter          portion       of the
   missile    assembly process.            In   the    current    schedule,       all    of   the
   remaining      Program Definition          and Risk Reduction            (PD&RR) flights
   will    be completed prior        to assembly          of the first       UOES seeker;         this
   should allow for thorough             flight      testing    of the seeker.             Therefore,
   if a problem occurs during the remaining                     PD&RR flight          testing,
   there should be sufficient              time to incorporate            any
   redesign/retrofit        prior    to the final          seeker integration            into the
   missiles.        In the unlikely        event of halting          seeker manufacture             on
   the UOES missile,        it would cost approximately                 $2.5M a month at
   LMIRIS, based on the planned expenditure                     profile      for 40 seekers.
        A seeker failure       during flight          testing     would not necessarily
   imply a fundamental        design and/or process change that would disrupt
   manufacture   of the missiles.             The technical         risk associated    with
   the InSb integration        effort,       and therefore        the likelihood    of a
   production   halt,   is reduced based on a number of factors.                      InSb
   focal plane array technology              has matured to such a degree that it
   is a commercially      viable,       off-the-shelf         product.     The InSb seeker
   assembly is less complex and shares 95% commonality                        of components
   with the PtSi seeker assembly and will                   have been successfully
   demonstrated    on FT-07.        Further,      confidence        in performing   the InSb
   seeker integration       is derived        from the extensive          HWIL and flight
   test experience    acquired        to date with the PtSi seeker.

    Page 7                GAO/NSIAD-97-137R          DOD Response/Prototype             THAAD System
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