Program Status: Naval Surface Fire Support

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-08-06.

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

United States
General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20648

National Security and
International Affairs Division

B-27681 1

August 6, 1997

The Honorable William S. Cohen
The Secretary Of Defense

Subject: Program Status: Naval Surface Fire Support

Dear Mr. Secretary:

The Navy admits that it currently has no credible surface fire capabilities to support
forced-entry from the sea and inland operations by Marine Corps and Army forces.
To address this deficiency, the Navy has initated a two-phased Naval Surface Fire
Support program. We reviewed this research and development program, with the
objectives of (1) determining the status of the Navy’s near-term phase, consisting of a
modified 5-inch gun, extended-range guided munition, and warfare control system, and
(2) identifying issues surrounding the long-term phase, which is needed to address
currently stated requirements. The purpose of this letter is to provide the results of our
review. We are making no recommendations.


Since 1992, when it retired the last of its battleships, the Navy’s surface fire support
capabilities have been limited to 5-inch/54 caliber guns and munitions that lack
adequate range, accuracy, and lethality. Targeting and fire control are still done
manually, and the Navy acknowledges that the communications links between fire             I
support ships and their customers are inadequate. A growing threat from sea-
skimming antiship missiles is forcing fire support ships to operate at ever increasing
ranges from shore, further limiting the utility of existing guns.

The Navy plans to address its surface fire support capability deficiencies in two
phases, near- (scheduled completion by fiscal year 2001) and long-term (time frame
still being defined). During the near-term phase, the Navy is deve!oping (1) a
modified version of the 5-inch gun currently used on surface combatant ships, (2) an
extended range guided 5-inch munition, and (3) a shipboard surface fire support
warfare control system consisting of computer resources and communication interfaces
designed to automate battle management functions. Using these new systems, the
Navy expects to be able to accurately engage shore targets to a range of lo-63 nautical

                                 GAO/NSIAD-97- 179R Naval Surface Fire Support
B-2768.1 1

miles. The Navy said it is pursuing the near-term phase because it offers the fastest
and least expensive way to improve surface fire support. In the long-term phase, the
Navy plans to develop a 155-millimeter vertical gun for advanced ships (VGAS) with
an extended range guided munition and adapt the Army Tactical Missile System and/or
the Navy Standard Missile for land attack missions.


The near-term phase of the Naval Surface Fire Support program is on schedule.
However, technical issues may delay achievement of operational capabilities scheduled
for fiscal year 2001, the required date. The full capabilities of the near-term program
will not be available until the Naval Surface Fire Support warfare control system is
defined and funded. The near-term phase of the program is not expected, or designed,
to fully meet surface fire support requirements recently established by the Marine
Corps, but the long-term phase is intended to address them. The long-term phase has
not been fully defined. Funding uncertainties exist for both the near- and long-term
phases of the Naval Surface Fire Support program.


Development of the modified 5-inch gun and the extended-range guided munition is
currently on track. Navy and contractor officials have acknowledged that the schedule
is optimistic, but they express confidence that it can be achieved by the date of fiscal
year 2001, as directed by the Chief of Naval Operations. There are technical risks
associated with concurrent development of the components of the extended-range
guided munition that must be able to survive the launch pressures from the gun. For
example, the rocket motor and motor casing development is high risk, as the propellant
charge could damage the motor or the motor casing when the gun is fired. If the
rocket motor casing needs to be reinforced, it may limit the amount of propellant that
can be packed into the projectile, which may reduce its range. A number of risk
reduction designs are being developed and tested.

 The Naval Surface Fire Sunnort Warfare
 Control System is Still Being Defined

 The modified 5-inch gun and extended range guided munition can be employed
 without the warfare control system. However, unless the warfare control system is
 developed, the capabilities of the modified 5-inch gun and extended range guided
 munition cannot be fully integrated with other weapons. The warfare control system is
 still being defined, and only draft operational requirements have been produced. Its
 envisioned capabilities are generally referenced in the NSFS program mission needs
 statement. The warfare control system will be placed in the Advanced Tomahawk

 2                               GAO/NSIAD-97- 179R Naval Surface Fire Support
B-2768 11

Weapons Control System. Eventually, it is expected to be integrated with the AEGIS’
combat system. Because the warfare control system will not be available for some
time, the Navy plans to adapt the Army’s Automated Deep Operations Coordination
System software to perform automated Naval Surface Fire Support mission planning
and control functions as an interim solution. According to program officials, this
adaptation is expected to be available by the time the modified gun and extended range
guided munition are fielded.

Funding; Uncertainties Mav Delav Program Execution

A number of funding issues may delay the near-term phase and attainment of required
operational capabilities. Development of the modified 5-inch gun and the extended
range guided munition is currently funded. However, no funds have been identified
for procurement and, depending on the number of modified guns and munitions
eventually produced, unprogrammed procurement costs could be significant. Ship
modifications to accommodate the modified gun are only partly funded. At this time,
no funds have been identified for development of the warfare control system.

The Navy plan&o install the modified gun on the 26 new destroyers (DDG-51 class)
which it plans t’i, build. The Navy is developing one prototype gun and 570 extended-
range gun munitions. The Naval Center for Cost Analysis has estimated the research
and development cost to produce the prototype gun and the 570 munitions at about
$179 million. The estimated total cost of the near-term phase depends on the number
of modified 5-inch guns and munitions that are eventually procured. The costs of
procuring 27 modified guns (includes one training gun) is about $366 million (average
unit cost of $12.35 million) and 8,000 extended range guided munitions is about $359
million. Operational and support costs for 20 years are estimated to be an additional
$444 million.

The Navy had originally planned to install the modified guns on new destroyers and to
backfit selected existing ships, but funding problems may force it to limit installation
of the modified guns to new ships. However, a backfit program is again being
considered. If a decision is reached to backfit the modified gun onto 61 additional
ships, according to a Navy official responsible for program resources, an additional
$862 million over a 3-year period will be needed for ship modification and integration.
The added cost of procuring extended range guided munitions for these 61 ships could
be about $2.6 billion, depending on the price of the munition at the time of

 ‘An integrated shipboard weapon system that combines computers, radars, and
missiles to provide a defense umbrella for surface ships. The system is capable of
automatically detecting, tracking, and destroying airborne, seaborne, and land-launched

3        ’                      GAO/NSIAD-97-     179R Naval Surface Fire Support
B-27681 1

While specific funding has been identified for developing the modified gun and
extended range guided munition, no specific funding has been identified for
development of the warfare control system. For fiscal year 1997, a Navy office
responsible for program resources has set aside about $2 million for warfare control
system experiments and demonstrations and, according to its officials, may make an
additional $6 million available.

The fiscal year 1995-97 design and construction contracts for eight ships were awarded
before the modified 5-inch gun design was defined. Only the cost of installing the
first preproduction gun on the first of eight new destroyers is funded within the near-
term phase. The cost of modifying the seven follow-on ships remains unfunded and
must be paid by either the Navy’s ship construction program (during construction) or    ’
other Navy procurement funds (post-construction) at approximately twice the cost.
Design and construction contracts for the remaining 18 ships have not been awarded.


The long-term phase of the Naval Surface Fire Support program is intended to comply
with the Navy’s cost and operational effectiveness analysis recommendation’ and to
address Marine Corps requirements that will not be met by the modified 5-inch gun
and extended range guided munition development program. However, this phase is
still being defined.

As we reported in 1995, the Navy’s cost and operational effectiveness analysis
recommended development of a 155-millimeter gun, in combination with missiles, as
the best solution for meeting Naval Surface Fire Support requirements.2 To that end,
the long-term phase is intended to address those recommendations as well as
requirements recently established by the Marine Corps, the Navy’s primary surface fire
support customer.

Although the Marine Corps has endorsed the near-term phase, it recently outlined             .
additional surface fire support requirements that the modified 5-inch gun and extended
range guided munition will not provide. These requirements include a capability for
delivering a large volume of sustained fire against a variety of targets, a larger payload
for increased lethality, a range beyond the 63 nautical miles expected of the 5-inch
extended range guided munition, and supporting command and control systems that
will enable the safe integration of fire support provided by a variety of sea-, &r-, and
land-based weapons. The Marine Corps also expressed concerns that at extended
ranges the munition’s lengthy time of flight would limit its responsiveness to calls for

 2Naval Surface Fire Sunnort: Navv’s Near-Term Plan Is Not Based on
 Sufficient Analysis (GAO/NSIAD-95- 160, May 19, 1995).

 4                               GAO/NSIAD-97-179R         Naval Surface Fire Support
B-27681 1

fire support. The Army is also a potential customer of naval surface fire support, but
according to a responsible official, it has not developed any requirements.

As described by Navy officials, key elements of the long-term phase would include
developing a 155-millimeter gun system and adapting the Army Tactical Missile
System and/or the Navy Standard Missile for land-attack missions. By fiscal year
2003, the missile variants are planned to achieve initial operational capability and a
vertical gun is to be demonstrated. The Navy plans to equip the next class of surface
combatants, the DD-21 class, with vertical guns beginning about fiscal year 2008.
The extended range guided munition technologies being developed within the near-
term phase, along with technologies being examined by several separately funded
advanced technology demonstration projects, are expected to be applicable in the long-
term phase to develop other guided projectiles, including 155-millimeter and larger

Despite these plans, Navy officials cautioned that no decision has been made on the
specific weapon types or mix that may be developed during this program phase. The
Naval Surface Fire Support program resource sponsor has proposed retiring seven
older ships and using the savings generated by that action to fund the long-term phase.
However, the Navy has not committed to this proposal. Except for about $4 million
for vertical gun and $3 million for Navy Tactical Missile System development, the
long-term phase is unfunded. However, according to a Navy official, the Five-Year
Defense Plan contains about $611 million for the long-term phase.


In commenting on a draft of this letter, the Department of Defense (DOD) generally
concurred with the information presented. (See App. I) DOD also provided some
technical suggestions and we have incorporated them in the text where appropriate.

We are sending copies of this letter to appropriate congressional committees; the
Secretaries of the Army and the Navy; the Commandant of the Marine Corps; and the
Director, Office of Management and Budget. We will make copies available to others
on request. Please contact me at (202) 5 12-4383 if you or your staff have any
questions concerning this letter.

Sincerely yours,

Katherine V. Schinasi
Associate Director, Defense Acquisitions Issues


5                               GAO/NSIAD-97-179R        Naval Surface Fire Support
                            OFFICE   OF THE    UNDER     SECRETARY       OF DEFENSE
                                            3000 DEFENSE  PENTAGON
                                           WASHlNCTON   DC 20301-3000


                                                                                          2 :! JUL 1997

               Ms. Katherine V. Schinasi
               AssociateDirector, DefenseAcquisition Issues
               National Security and International
                 Affairs Division
               U.S. GeneralAccounting Offtce
               Washington,D.C. 20548

               Dear Ms. Schinasi:

                      This is the Departmentof Defense(DOD) responseto the General Accounting
               Office (GAO) draft report, “Status of Naval Surface Fire Support,”datedJuly 3. 1997
               (GAO Code 707 176 / OSD Case 1407).

                     The Departmenthas reviewed the report and’generally concurs;W e have
               separatelyprovided suggestedtechnicalchangesfor clarification and accuracy.

                      The Departmentappreciatesthe opportunity to comment of the draft report.


                                                         George R. Schneiter
                                                         Strategic and Tactical Systems


  6             (707176)                              G?O/'NSm97-179R        Naval !Xu-face Fire     slllmppart
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