Air Force Rationale for JDAM Production Decision

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-06-13.

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

      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      National Security and
      International Affairs Division


      June 13, 1997

      Congressional Committees

      Subject: Air Force Rationale for JDAM Production Decision

      In a March 1997 letter to the Secretary of the Air Force, we expressed concern
      that the Air Force might be making a premature commitment to significant
      production of Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) before demonstrating
      through operational testing that the JDAM could meet key performance
      parameters.’ On April 29, 1997, the Secretary responded that the Air Force had
      sufficient data to make the production decision. Since we had provided copies
      of our original letter to the congressional committees having jurisdiction, the
      purpose of this letter is to convey the Air Force’s response (see enclosure),
      along with our analysis.

      JDAM is a tailkit to be attached to a 2,000 pound bomb that will convert the
      unguided free-fall bomb into a precision guided, or smart munition. The
      services plan to buy about 87,500 kits at an estimated average cost of $32,900,
      for a total cost of about $2.87 billion. In our letter, we advised the Secretary
      that (1) the developmental and operational testing would not be completed
      before the decision to begin low-rate initial production, and (2) the number of
      units that the services planned to buy during this phase of production exceeded
      the amount needed to meet the objectives of low-rate initial production as set
      forth in the applicable Department of Defense regulations.

      The Secretary replied that (1) a significant portion of the developmental testing
      was completed and some operational testing had been conducted prior to the
      low-rate initial production decision, (2) an operational assessment was prepared
      prior to the low-rate production decision, and (3) the low-rate initial production
      decision was not the final production decision. The Secretary did not comment
      on our concern about the number of JDAM units to be bought under low-rate

      ‘Joint Direct Attack Munition: Low-Rate Initial Production Decision
      (GAOINSLAD-97-116R,Mar. 17, 1997).

                                       GAO/NSLtlD-97-176R JDAM Production Decision

Our review indicates that, although the initial production decision was made in
April 1997 and the low-rate production contract signed on April 30, 1997,
dedicated developmental testing with the B-52H and the F/A-18C/TI will not end
until August 1997. Moreover, initial operational testing will not begin until
September 1997. The Secretary’s response stated that the Air Force conducted
some operational testing with the F-16 in January 1997. However, an official of
the Air Force Test and Evaluation Command stated that the January testing was
not the same as operational testing because the Air Force used the F-16, which
is not one of the threshold aircraft, and it did not have operational flight
software. The same official further stated that even the threshold aircraft, the
B-52H and the F/A-18C/D, would have to be certified as using operational
software in order to be judged ready to conduct operational testing.

The January tests evaluated four areas of ADAM development, rating two as
having no problems, while rating the other two as having issues that required
attention. However, this assessment is not the same as an evaluation prepared
after dedicated operational testing. According to Air‘Force officials, the
purpose of this assessment was to evaluate performance to determine if the
weapon will be ready for dedicated operational testing. Because of JDAiWs
developmental phase and consequent lack of data, some critical operational
issues were not evaluated, in areas that were subsequently assessed as having
no issues. For example, in their assessment of operational effectiveness and
suitability, subsequently rated as having no issues, the testers did not assess
whether the ADAM system (1) could allow a single aircraft to attack a target
with multiple weapons; (2) aRowed the attacking aircraft a wide range of
tactically sound delivery options; or (3) allowed for timely and flexible
targeting, retargeting, and employment against the user-validated worldwide
target set.

In response to our question about the potential impact of delaying the initial
JDAM production decision until the Services complete developmental and
operational tests with the F/A-18C/D and B-52& the Secretary replied that such
a delay would abrogate the production contract with McDonnell DQ@ZS, would
result in substantial contractor claims, and delay delivery of production tailkits.
However, until the contract option for JDAM production was awarded on April
30, 1997, there would have been no basis for contractor claims. A delay in
starting production may have required a renegotiation of the contract terms
which may have affected the government’s costs and would have likely delayed
the inhal deliveries.

Over the years, we have found numerous instances where production was
permitted to begin based on factors other than the system’s technical maturity.

2                                GAO/NSIAD-97-176R JDAM Production Decision

Unfortunately, many of those systems later experienced significant effectiveness
and/or suitability problems. Further, in today’s national security environment,
we believe there should be very few cases in which an urgent need dictates that
DOD start low-rate initial production without a demonstrated level of
confidence that the system will work as intended.

Our evaluations of numerous acquisition programs has led us to conclude that
production, once begun, severely limits DOD’s options if problems arise. We
have recommended that the initial production decision be based on enough
operational testing to ensure that the system will be operationally suitable and
effective. The final production decision referred to by the Secretary is, we
believe, a decision about the rate at which the articles will be produced rather
than an opportunity to reconsider whether the weapon is operationally suitable
and effective.

If you or your staff have any questions on these matters, please call me on (202)
512441 or Bill Graveline on (202) 512-4056.


3                               GAO/NSIAD-97-176R JDAM Production Decision          *
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. Delbrms
RanEng Minority Member
Committee on National Security
House of Representatives

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

4                                GAOINSIAD-97-176R JDAM Production Decision
ENCLOSURE I                                                                            ENCLOSURE I

                                      SECRETARY         OF THE AIR FORCE

                                                                                 APR29 1997
              Mr. Louis J. Rodrigues
              Director, Defense Acqmsition Issues
              National Security and International
                 Affairs Division
              U.S. General Accounting Office
              Washington, D.C. 20548

              Dear Mr. Rodrigues:

                      This is the Department of the Air Force responseto the General Accounting Office
              (GAO) Letter of Inquiry GAO/NSIAD-97-116R, “Joint Direct Attack Munition: Low-
              Rate Initial Production Decision”, dated March 17,1997 (GAO Code 707201), OSD Case

                      The Air Force nonconcurs with the issues included in the GAO Letter of Inquiry
              concerning the Joint D       4track Munition @DAM). The Air Force believes the JDAM
              program completed a s 1 ant portion of the Development Test & Evaluation (DT&E)
              program and demonstruI        k JDAM weapon system works. Those results, coupled with
              the Air Force Operational ’ :st and Evaluation Center’s (AFOTEC) Operational
              Assessment, provided suflrcient data for the Air Force Acquisition Executive to make a
              Low-Rate Initial Production decision. This is not the final production decision. The final
              production decision will be based on the completion of the B-52H and F/A-l 8 Jnitial
              Operational Test and Evaluation (JOT&E) programs, which will ensurethe tail kit works
              and is successfully integrated with the threshold delivery platforms. The detailed Air
              Force comments in response to the GAO questions are provided in the enclosure.

                    If you have any additional questions,pleasecontact Maj Paul Waugh, SAFIAQPB.
              697-7715x1 10, or L/C Bob Mar&n, AFPEO/WP, 695-8345.



                                      GAO/NSIAD-97-176R JDAM Production Decision
ENCLOSURE I                                                                         ENCLOSURE I

                                GAO LETTER OF INQUIRY GAO/NSlAD-97-116R
                                          DATED MARCH 17.1997
                                     (GAO CODE 707201) OSD CASE 1321


              PUESTION 1 In the absenceof operational test results, how can the Air Force be sure
              that the Jomt Direa Attack Munition (JDAM) is operationally reliable and suitable and
              will not need maJor design changesafter committing to production? What are the co%
              schedule and performance risks of making the production decision before operational
              testing is done with the aircraft? (pp. 3-4/GAO Letter of Inquiry)

              AIR FORCE RESPONSE. The Air Force is not making a production decision before
              completing operational testing. The April 97 decision point will be to enter Low-Rate
              Imtial Production &RIP) -- 937 tail kits or 1.07% of the total JDAM buy. It is not a final
              production decision. The final production decision will take place the thud quarter of
              N98 after the compleaon of F/A-IS and B-52 operational testing.

              The CongressionalHeavy Bomber Study stated that the Services needed an adverse
              weather, accurate,air-to-ground capability as soon as possible. Based on this
              Congressionalrecommendation,the Air Force acceleratedthe JDAM program in FY9.5.
              Nevertheless,the acquisition strategy has not changed. We plan to complete an
              acceptable amount of Development Test & Evaluation (DT&E) and some Initial
              Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT&E) before the LRIP decision, then complete DT&E
              and IOT&E prior to the Milestone III full rate production decision. This strategy ensures
              the Air Force and Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) have sufficient testing to
              make a final production decision. By following this strategy, the JDAM program will
              mitigate cost. schedule and performance risks, while ensuring a timely and smooth
              transition to production.

              0UESTlON 2: Now can the Air Force have confidence in the operational assessment
              without any operational test data and only limited development test data? (pp. 4/GAO
              Letter of Inquiry)

              NR FORCE RESPONSE: The Air Force has great confidence in the Qpmational
              Assessment (OA) becausethe operational testers basedthe assessmenton actual testing.
              Early-on in the program, the JDAlvl acquisition community requested the user’s (Air
              Combat Command) assistancein evaluating the operational suitability of the JDAM
              weapon system. The result of the System Program Office (SPO) and User mteraction was
              the Integrated System Evaluation QSE) test program.

                                     GACYNSIAD-97-176RJIM&I Production Decision
ENCLOSURE I                                                                             ENCLOSURE I

                  The ISE program consrsted of 22 JDAM guided drops over three weeks. Operational
                  ai.rcrewsand maintenance crews from the Air Force weapons school planned, built-up,
                  loaded, and flew these missions. The Aii Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center
                  (AFOTEC) personnel observedall phasesof ISE. They also conducted mission plannmg
                  testing on the B-52. AFOTEC personnel also observed many of the twenty DT&E guided
                  test drops and the B-lB, B-2, B-52H, F-160, and F/A-18CD safe separation flight
                  tests. AFOTEC personnel used all of this data to develop their OA findings.

                  The bottomline - the JDAM test results speak for themselves; i.e.,

                         - 97% confident actual Circular Error Probable (CEP) is within 10.2 +/-20%
                           meters ( 13 meter requtrement)
                         - 100% Storage Reliability
                         - 90% Mission Reliability (90% requirement).

                  AFOTEC has more data to support the JDAM OA than in a typical weapons program.
                  For example, the Sensor Fuzed Weapon (SFW) was the last major weapon system for
                  which the Air Force made a production decision. Prior to the initial SFW LRlP decision,
              -   the Air Force conducted only a total of thirty-four missions, and those tests were
                  conducted without using operational aircrews or munitions loading personnel. However.
                  the initial OT&E testing was completed prior to the full-rate production decision. JDAM
                  has followed a similar approach, but accelerated some operational testing prior to LRIP
                  and conducted an Operational Assessment, with the support of AFOTEC.

                  OUESTlON 3. Since none of the primary or test aircraft have a mature operational fhght
                  program that includes JDAM, how can the Air Force rely on the development test results?
                  How can the Aii Force determine a favorable operational assessmentfor the low-rate
                  initial production decision basedon data collected from the F- 16C/D, the F/A- 18CD. and
                  the B-52H aircraft software test tapes? (pp.4/GAO Letter of Inquiry)

                  AIR FORCE RESPONSE: The key to successful aircraft integration is a systematic,
                  agreed-to, and executable integration program. The key objective is to define the interface
                  early-on, reach agreement, define a process, and execute that process. JDAM did just
                  that. The JDAM program established a signed Interface Control Document for the logrcal
                  interface pnor to Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) I contract award.
                  The contractors knew the air& interface requirements up front As the program
                  proflessed through EMD, the JDAM program established an integration process and
                  conflict resolution process with each aircraft program office.

                  The DT&E program has shown how well the JDAM/aircraft integration process has
                  worked. The F-16. F/A-18 and B-2 captive carry and guided drop flight tests have shown
                  that JDAM can receive data from the aim& can transfer Global Positioning System
                  (GPS) alignment, can navigate to the target, and can initiate the fuze and warhead. The

                                         GAO/NSIAD-97-176R JDAM Production Decision
ENCLOSURE I                                                                            ENCLOSURE I

              flight data backs-up the countless hours on weapon simulators in the F- 16C/D, B-52H, B-
              2, B-l B and F/A- 18C/D simulation-in-the-loop labs.

              The Au Force will have completed a comprehensive OT&E program on the F/A-l 8 and
              B-52 pnor to making a final production decision in FY98. In the mean rime, the LRIP
              decision will be based on test data that shows the JDAM weapon system can interface
              with Au Force and Navy aircraft and destroy targets.

              BUESTJW 4; What impact would delaying the production decision until the Services
              complete developmental and operational tests with the F/A-lIC/D and B-52H, have on
              the JDAM production program? @p.4/GAO Letter of Inquiry)

              AIR FORCE RESPONSE, Delaying the Low-Rate Initial Production decision, unul the
              completion of developmental and operational testing will abrogatethe production contract
              with McDonnell Douglas Aircraft (MDA) and would result in substantial claims from
              MDA and their vendors. Such a decision would also delay the delivery of production
              JDAM tail kits untiJ the third quarter of FW9. This would result in a two-year delay in
              operational JDAM capability on the B-2, and would eliminate capability on the F/A-
              18C/D. B- 1B, and B-52H until at least FYOQ and maybe until FYO 1. This acnon
              contradicts recent Congressional direction to accelerate JDAM on all Air Force bombers.

              MDA based their proposal on a JDAM Production Price Commitment Curve (PPCC) that
              says that the contractor will produce a given quantity of tail kits grven a specific level of
              funding. The Government accepted this proposal and made the PPCC the cornerstone of
              the JDAM productton contract. In order to meet this PPCC, MDA has secured fixed
              price contract options from major vendors through the first five production lots These
              options give the contractor, and the Government, high confidence in the PPCC. If the
              Government were to unilaterahy extend the LRIP decision, we believe MDA’s loss of
              supplier options will mflict sufficient harm to enable MDA to seek relief from the PPCC.
              Since the Government is now in a sole-source environment, the Air Force believes that
              any settlement would be less favorable to the Government m terms of price, terms and


                                      GAO/NSIAD-@7-176RJDAM Fkoduction Decision
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