oversight

Brilliant Antiarmor Submunition: Opportunity Exists to Conduct Critical Test Prior to Production Decision

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-10-30.

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

                  United States General Accounting Office

GAO               Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee
                  on Military Research and Development,
                  Committee on National Security, House
                  of Representatives

October 1997
                  BRILLIANT ANTIARMOR
                  SUBMUNITION
                  Opportunity Exists to
                  Conduct Critical Test
                  Prior to Production
                  Decision




GAO/NSIAD-98-16
             United States
GAO          General Accounting Office
             Washington, D.C. 20548

             National Security and
             International Affairs Division

             B-276833

             October 30, 1997

             The Honorable Curt Weldon
             Chairman, Subcommittee on Military
               Research and Development
             Committee on National Security
             House of Representatives

             Dear Mr. Chairman:

             The Army has been developing the brilliant antiarmor submunition (also
             referred to as BAT) since 1984 and plans to request authority to start
             low-rate initial production in December 1997. At your request, we are
             providing our assessment of the status of its acquisition plans and whether
             it is technically ready to enter production.


             The Army is developing the brilliant antiarmor submunition, with acoustic
Background   and infrared seekers working in tandem, to autonomously search for,
             track, and destroy moving armored targets. This submunition is to be
             carried deep into enemy territory by the Army Tactical Missile System
             (ATACMS) Block II missile, which is still in development and is a
             modification of the in-production ATACMS Block IA missile, which carries a
             different submunition. The brilliant antiarmor submunition and the ATACMS
             Block II missile are a $4-billion system designed to support the Army’s
             “deep fires” mission, which calls for the destruction and/or disruption of
             enemy forces at ranges exceeding 100 kilometers. Each Block II missile is
             to carry 13 submunitions that will be dispensed over large clusters of high
             payoff targets to attack and destroy individual targets. The advantage of
             the submunition is that it can cover a large area when dispersed, which
             allows it to compensate for target location errors. Figure 1 shows the
             submunition acquiring a moving column of tanks.




             Page 1                           GAO/NSIAD-98-16 Brilliant Antiarmor Submunition
                                    B-276833




Figure 1: The Brilliant Antiarmor
Submunition Acquiring a Moving
Target
                                                               Dispense




                                                                                         Target Search
                                                                                         and Acquisition




                                                         Target
                                                         Selection




                                    The brilliant antiarmor submunition program was established in 1984 as a
                                    special access program and progressed to a successful engineering and
                                    manufacturing development phase decision in May 1991. The Tri-Service
                                    Standoff Attack Missile was designated as the first delivery vehicle for the
                                    submunition, but when the Army terminated its participation in the
                                    program in December 1993, the ATACMS Block II missile was designated as
                                    the submunition’s carrier. This change of carrier and continued technical
                                    difficulties have led to significant cost growth. The current program office
                                    estimate shows that development costs have increased from $700 million
                                    to $1.2 billion (in constant 1991 dollars) from the initial February 1992




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                   estimate.1 Projected production costs have also risen by almost $7,000 per
                   submunition (in constant 1991 dollars). The Army currently plans to
                   produce 2,352 submunitions during low-rate initial production and a
                   program total of 19,871 during fiscal years 1998-2006. According to current
                   Army documentation, the average procurement cost of a single Block II
                   missile loaded with 13 brilliant antiarmor submunitions is about
                   $2.3 million (in constant 1991 dollars).


                   A decision on low-rate initial production of the brilliant antiarmor
Results in Brief   submunition, scheduled for December 1997, appears to be premature
                   because a crucial technical demonstration will not be accomplished by
                   that time. In 1995, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the
                   Army agreed to relax the performance criteria that the brilliant antiarmor
                   submunition was to meet before proceeding into low-rate initial
                   production. Under the new criteria, the Army is not required to
                   demonstrate that the submunition can be successfully dispensed from the
                   ATACMS Block II missile. In September 1994, the Department of Defense
                   (DOD) noted, in its comments to our draft classified report, that the
                   successful completion of multiple tests of the submunition with the ATACMS
                   as the carrier would be required. Without such a test, the Army would have
                   little or no assurance that the submunition to be acquired under low-rate
                   initial production could successfully meet performance and technical
                   requirements.

                   The submunition’s current test schedule also appears to be extremely
                   ambitious. Its development program is almost 3 years behind its original
                   schedule, and a significant portion of the test schedule remains
                   uncompleted. The project office added five development flight tests to the
                   schedule because of technical problems. In addition, the Army plans to use
                   a test aircraft for all submunition flight testing with subsonic deployment
                   rather than the supersonic deployment from the ATACMS Block II missile.
                   The testing completed to date has uncovered numerous problems that
                   required design changes, additional testing, and schedule delays. Army
                   program officials admit that the testing schedule is extremely ambitious,
                   but they assume it will be successful.

                   Although the submunition test plans do not include an evaluation of
                   whether or not the ATACMS Block II can dispense the submunition, the

                   1
                    According to program office data, $270 million of the $500 million in development cost increase is
                   associated with developing an improved submunition. The new brilliant antiarmor submunition is
                   scheduled to be introduced into the production line in fiscal year 2001. It is designed to increase
                   lethality and add the capability to attack cold, stationary, armored targets.



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                   Block II missile test plans do include a test to dispense tactical
                   submunitions in December 1997, the same month that the decision is to be
                   made on low-rate production of the submunition. However, according to
                   Army representatives, data from this test will not be used in making the
                   submunition production decision, since the test is not required. In
                   addition, any delays in qualifying the submunition’s subcomponents and
                   developmental flight testing will likely postpone the date of the Block II
                   dispense test. The Army’s ability to complete the remaining portion of the
                   submunition’s test schedule on time is highly suspect, considering the
                   repeated number of testing failures already experienced. Therefore, it is
                   probable that the ATACMS Block II dispense test will be delayed.

                   The submunition’s schedule is unnecessarily ambitious. According to
                   program officials, the driving factor for making the production decision in
                   December 1997 is for the submunition’s delivery schedule to coincide with
                   the Block II missile’s delivery schedule. However, a review of the program
                   office’s production lead time and delivery requirements shows that the
                   submunition’s low-rate initial production contract can be awarded
                   8 months later than currently scheduled and the submunition can still be
                   delivered in time to be integrated into the missile. This would allow the
                   Army additional time to complete the submunition’s development testing
                   and the ATACMS dispense test before awarding the contract.

                   The ATACMS Block IA’s planned full-rate production decision was recently
                   delayed by 1 year, to March 1998, because of target acquisition problems.
                   According to representatives from the Office of the Director, Operational
                   Test and Evaluation, the Block IA missile’s problems will also affect the
                   Block II missile. Therefore, the Block II missile’s currently scheduled
                   production date is uncertain. If its production date is delayed, the Army
                   would have even more time to sufficiently complete key submunition
                   developmental testing.


                   One of the brilliant antiarmor submunition’s original criteria for starting
Key Performance    low-rate initial production was to demonstrate that it could be
Criteria Relaxed   successfully dispensed from its carrier. This criterion was established in
                   an acquisition decision memorandum dated May 1991 for the submunition
                   and its original missile carrier, the Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile.
                   With the termination of the Army’s participation in this missile program
                   and the selection of the ATACMS as the new carrier in 1993, new criteria
                   were subsequently developed.




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                  In a 1994 classified report on the brilliant antiarmor submunition, we
                  raised the issue of the lack of sufficient testing requirements in the
                  criteria. We recommended that the Secretary of Defense direct the
                  Secretary of the Army to conduct substantial system-level testing before
                  low-rate initial production was approved. DOD’s written response to that
                  report stated that the decision to start low-rate initial production would
                  not be made without significant system-level testing, including both the
                  carrier and the submunition. In addition, DOD stated that the criteria
                  proposed by the Army for entering low-rate initial production would
                  require the successful completion of multiple system tests with the ATACMS
                  as the carrier. The response also stated that the planned testing for the
                  submunition to support the low-rate initial production decision was
                  consistent with and exceeded the original criteria established in the 1991
                  acquisition decision memorandum and that the criteria would have to be
                  approved by DOD.

                  Nevertheless, the submunition’s revised criteria, approved on October 4,
                  1995, do not require the Army to demonstrate that the ATACMS Block II can
                  successfully dispense the submunition. We could not determine why such
                  a demonstration is no longer required. The revised criteria call for the
                  submunition to meet or exceed its performance specifications in its
                  requirements document. Under these specifications, the Army will
                  consider (1) how many kills are achieved per load of submunitions fired,
                  (2) how well the system will operate in countermeasures, (3) how well the
                  system will perform in degraded weather conditions, (4) how lethal the
                  system is, and (5) how reliable the system operates. According to project
                  office representatives, many of these requirements will initially have to be
                  met using simulations but will eventually be verified through actual flight
                  testing. However, the flight testing will not occur until after the low-rate
                  initial production decision has been made. While the current criteria do
                  not require that the submunition be dispensed from its carrier, officials
                  from OSD, Army, and project office acknowledge that this is a key issue for
                  the system’s performance. Army and OSD representatives agree that they
                  would like to see a demonstration of the carrier successfully dispensing
                  the submunition before the submunition’s production decision. However,
                  this is not a requirement.


                  The brilliant antiarmor submunition’s development is significantly behind
Submunition       its original and revised schedules. The submunition received approval to
Development Is    enter its engineering and manufacturing development phase on May 15,
Behind Schedule   1991. The plan at that time was for the Defense Acquisition Board to hold



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                               B-276833




                               its low-rate production decision review in November 1994. However,
                               because of a change in the submunition’s carrier and the technical
                               difficulties being experienced with individual subcomponents, the Army
                               approved a new program plan on September 22, 1995. This plan stretched
                               out the development program by 3 years and rescheduled the low-rate
                               initial production review for December 1997.

                               Despite the change in the program’s plan, the submunition is still behind
                               schedule. The submunition is currently behind its revised design
                               verification test completion estimate by 6 months and behind its revised
                               contractor development testing completion date by 8 months. Army
                               officials maintain that the past slippage will have no impact on the
                               scheduled December 1997 low-rate initial production decision, but admit
                               that the schedule is extremely ambitious. Table 1 shows the
                               September 1995 scheduled dates and the estimated slippage since the
                               revised estimates.

Table 1: Revised Submunition
Program Schedule                                                                                   Slippage from
                                                             September 1995         Current        September 1995
                               Milestone events              estimate              estimate        (months)
                               Critical design               5/92                      5/92        Not applicable
                               review
                               Prototype                     Not applicable            9/95        Not applicable
                               production complete
                               Design verification           10/95                     4/96        6
                               test
                               Contractor                    3/97                     11/97        8
                               development test
                               Low-rate initial              12/97                    12/97
                               production decision
                               Source: Army program office data.



                               A significant portion of the submunition’s test plan remains uncompleted.
                               The project office has added five development flights to the test program
                               because of technical problems, without extending the time to complete all
                               the tests. Three of these flights were added by the contractor to verify
                               hardware design changes that were made due to prior flight test failures.
                               The other two flights were added as preproduction verification tests as a
                               result of previously failed flight tests. The plan is to complete development
                               flight testing and qualification testing in November 1997. According to the
                               project manager, the entire test schedule is tight, and there is no time




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available prior to the scheduled production decision to conduct additional
tests should any new problems develop. For example, after a July 1997
developmental test failure, the project office continued with other planned
tests without allowing time to analyze the failure or do a retest.

All of the submunition’s flight testing will be done using a test aircraft with
subsonic deployment rather than the supersonic deployment from its
intended carrier, the ATACMS Block II missile. The Army has not included a
flight test in its submunition’s test plans to evaluate whether or not the
carrier can dispense the final tactical submunition configuration.
However, the Army plans to conduct three ATACMS Block II flight tests to
dispense the submunition within the next several months. During the first
two tests, a nontactical version of the submunition will be used, but during
the final test in December 1997, tactical submunitions will be used.
According to Army representatives, data from this test will not be used in
making the submunition’s low-rate initial production decision, since a test
to dispense the submunition is not required. In addition, the ATACMS Block
II missile tactical dispense tests are dependent upon the submunition’s
subcomponent qualification and development tests being completed by
then. According to the former ATACMS Block II product manager, if any
problems result from the submunition flight tests, the ATACMS Block II
dispense tests would not be done until after the December 1997 low-rate
initial production decision. The final Block II test might not occur until
after January 1998.

The Army’s ability to complete the remaining portion of the test schedule
on time will be a significant challenge. The testing completed to date has
uncovered numerous problems that have resulted in design changes,
additional testing, and schedule delays. Some component failures have
required repeated efforts to resolve. For example, the bands that secure
the wings and tail fins to the submunition’s body prior to it being
dispensed from the missile have caused problems during two flight tests.
When the submunition is dispensed, the bands are designed to fall away,
allowing the wings and tail fins to deploy. During the first flight, however,
the bands did not fall away from the submunition and prevented the wings
from successfully deploying. Although the project office believed the
problem had been solved, during a subsequent flight, the bands again
failed to fall away, causing the submunition to crash. The second
redesigned band system performed successfully in a May 1997 flight test.
The entire process to redesign the bands required approximately
10 months to complete.




Page 7                             GAO/NSIAD-98-16 Brilliant Antiarmor Submunition
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The three other components that have taken the longest time to qualify
and have contributed to the bulk of the schedule delay are the inertial
measurement unit, the deceleration and stabilization system, and the
infrared seeker. Qualification testing was scheduled to be completed in
November 1995. However, under the current schedule, qualification testing
is not expected to be complete until November 1997.

The design and production of the inertial measurement unit, which
provides in-flight data to adjust the submunition’s flight path, continue to
be significantly delayed. According to the product manager, the problems
with the unit are the result of the change in carriers. As a result of this
change, the unit had to be redesigned, and that effort has taken more than
2 years. As of the June 1997 performance report, the contractor had
delivered 34 of 95 units and is at least 6 months behind schedule. The
contractor problems with the design and production efforts have resulted
in expensive plans to work around the problems and delays in integrating
missile hardware. Although project office personnel told us that the
technical problems had been resolved, the June 1997 production
performance report stated that the inertial measurement unit program was
falling further behind schedule. Because of the delays, the new unit is not
expected to pass qualification testing until November 1997, after the
completion of all submunition development flight tests. None of the
currently planned development test flights will have a qualified inertial
measurement unit. Thus, the primary objective of the developmental flight
tests—to verify design and performance—will not be met.

The change in carriers also required the development of a deceleration and
stabilization system. The brilliant antiarmor submunition was originally
designed to be dispensed at the Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile’s
subsonic speeds, but will now be dispensed at supersonic speeds by the
ATACMS Block II missile. The deceleration and stabilization system is
required to slow the submunition to subsonic speeds. The contractor has
experienced technical problems with the design of the system that have
caused additional schedule delays. In March 1997, the final design for the
system was completed. As of the June 1997 report, the contractor had
delivered only 25 of 96 units and is at least 2 months behind schedule. The
May 1997 system qualification tests had to be suspended because two
units failed during the tests. Project officials expect testing to resume in
August 1997, a 3-month delay. Because of this delay, none of the
submunition development tests will be conducted with a qualified
deceleration and stabilization system.




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                        The infrared seeker, which detects and guides the submunition to its
                        target, is at least 8 months behind schedule. The contractor had delivered
                        49 of 99 units, according to the June 1997 performance report. During
                        three test flights, the seeker experienced hardware failures that caused the
                        submunition to crash. Two of the failures required the redesign and
                        addition of new seeker components and caused testing delays. Because of
                        the tight testing schedule, testing of the submunition will continue before
                        a failure analysis is completed on the third failed flight. In addition,
                        qualification testing revealed more problems that must be resolved before
                        the seeker can be qualified. Qualification is not scheduled to be complete
                        until November 1997. According to testing officials, the seeker will not be
                        qualified until after the completion of all development tests.


                        The Army built in 8 months of excess time into the submunition’s
Submunition’s           production delivery schedule, therefore it is unnecessary to make the
Ambitious Schedule Is   low-rate initial production decision in December 1997. According to
Unnecessary             program officials, making the low-rate initial production decision in
                        December 1997 is driven by the desire to have the submunition’s delivery
                        schedule coincide with the ATACMS Block II missile production schedule.
                        However, a review of the program office production lead time and delivery
                        requirements shows that the submunition’s initial production contract can
                        be awarded in August 1998 and still allow sufficient time for the
                        submunition to be integrated into the missile. Delaying the decision would
                        allow the Army additional time to complete its development test program.

                        The program office currently plans to award a limited production contract
                        for 395 brilliant antiarmor submunitions in January 1998. However, 90 of
                        these submunitions are funded with research and development funds and
                        are considered developmental units. These units are required for the
                        December 1999 ATACMS Block II operational test. The remaining 305 units
                        are low-rate initial production submunitions, which are required to be
                        delivered to the contractor, starting in April 2000, to be integrated into the
                        first low-rate initial production Block II missiles. According to program
                        officials, the lead time to produce the submunition is 18 to 19 months.
                        However, under the current schedule, the 305 low-rate initial production
                        submunitions do not need to begin delivery until 27 months after contract
                        award. Our analysis of delivery requirements reveals that the contract
                        award for the low-rate initial production quantities can be delayed
                        8 months, or until August 1998.




                        Page 9                             GAO/NSIAD-98-16 Brilliant Antiarmor Submunition
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                 The Army’s current brilliant antiarmor submunition schedule is linked to
                 the ATACMS Block II December 1999 operational test date and July 2000
                 first missile delivery date. To meet these dates, the contract for low-rate
                 initial production of the ATACMS Block II missiles must be awarded in
                 January 1999. However, the ATACMS Block IA missile’s planned full-rate
                 production decision was recently delayed by 1 year, to March 1998,
                 because of a “sensor to shooter” problem that surfaced during initial
                 operational testing. The Block IA’s problems may not be resolved before
                 the Block II is ready to enter production. According to representatives
                 from the Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, and the
                 Army Operational Test and Evaluation Command, the “sensor to shooter”
                 problem will also affect the Block II missile. If the Block II missile’s
                 schedule is delayed at all, the submunition’s initial production contract
                 could be delayed even further, allowing more time to complete
                 submunition testing.

                 Neither the ATACMS nor the brilliant antiarmor submunition has a sensor
                 that can provide necessary targeting information and must rely on
                 targeting data supplied from external sources. The submunition must have
                 initial targeting information prior to launch and missile positioning
                 information while in flight. For example, a moving column of armored
                 vehicles’ initial location must be identified prior to launching the missile.
                 According to project office officials, this target information must be as
                 precise as possible.

                 The Army recognizes that the lack of a targeting sensor is a serious
                 problem. A general officer steering committee has been established to
                 further investigate the problem and to recommend a solution. According
                 to testing officials, the ATACMS Block II’s and brilliant antiarmor
                 submunition’s operational performance must be evaluated using targeting
                 information. They indicated that without a solution to the “sensor to
                 shooter” problem, the effectiveness of the system would be affected, and
                 missile production delays would be warranted.


                 Given the criticality of the dispense to the brilliant antiarmor submunition
Recommendation   program, we recommend that the Secretary of the Army require the
                 program office to demonstrate that qualified tactical submunitions can be
                 successfully dispensed from the ATACMS Block II missile before seeking a
                 low-rate initial production decision on the submunition program.
                 According to production requirements, the submunition can still meet its
                 existing delivery schedule with the ATACMS Block II missile, even with an



                 Page 10                           GAO/NSIAD-98-16 Brilliant Antiarmor Submunition
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                     8-month delay in awarding the low-rate initial production contract. Such a
                     delay would allow more time for the Army to resolve the submunition’s
                     technical difficulties and demonstrate that it can be successfully dispensed
                     from the ATACMS Block II missile.


                     In commenting on a draft of this report, DOD indicated that it did not
Agency Comments      believe that it was necessary to perform a “full-up” dispense test of tactical
and Our Evaluation   submunitions from the ATACMS Block II missile prior to the low-rate
                     production decision. DOD stated that even though successful dispensing of
                     tactical submunitions was not a formal criterion to be met before the
                     decision to go into production, two Block II missile tests are scheduled to
                     dispense a tactical submunition before the production decision and that
                     information from these tests would be used in its assessment of the
                     submunition. DOD also stated that delaying the submunition’s low-rate
                     initial production by 8 months would delay the Block II missile’s initial
                     operational and live fire testing by 8 months and subsequently delay the
                     Block II’s full-rate production decision, as well as significantly increase
                     costs.

                     We are not pursuaded by DOD’s argument for the following reasons and
                     have retained our recommendation. First, OSD and Army officials told us
                     that the dispense event was a key performance objective for the project
                     because of its criticality to the system’s effectiveness. Second, a successful
                     dispense event was a requirement for the low-rate production decision
                     before the change in carriers. Third, problems are currently being
                     experienced in the submunition’s development testing and delays are
                     already occurring. Finally, if the Army is not confident that the
                     submunition can meet this standard, it should not seek approval for
                     low-rate production.

                     The Army does not need to start low-rate production to obtain additional
                     submunitions to complete development activities and for testing. If
                     additional submunitions are procured using separate contracts—a
                     January 1998 research and development contract to procure assets for the
                     operational and live fire testing and a subsequent procurement contract
                     for low-rate production when the submunition demonstrates its
                     performance—the Block II’s schedule would not necessarily be delayed.
                     Even if the schedule would be delayed, we believe DOD should be more
                     concerned about the risks associated with starting the production of an
                     unqualified and largely unproven system.




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              DOD’s comments are presented in their entirety in appendix I, along with
              our evaluation of them.


              To determine whether the brilliant antiarmor submunition acquisition plan
Scope and     was on schedule, we reviewed current Army submunition and ATACMS
Methodology   Block II missile program testing and production schedule documentation
              with officials in the ATACMS-BAT project office, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
              We also reviewed similar documentation with officials in the Offices of the
              Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research, Development, and
              Acquisition and the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army for Operations and
              Plans, Washington, D.C.

              To determine whether the brilliant antiarmor submunition has
              successfully demonstrated its technical readiness to enter production, we
              reviewed current and prior criteria to evaluate the requirements to be
              demonstrated before entering production. We then evaluated test plans,
              test results, and contractor performance reports with ATACMS-BAT project
              office officials, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, to determine whether the
              submunition had demonstrated all the required events. We also discussed
              testing and criteria issues with representatives from the Office of the
              Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, Washington, D.C.; the Army’s
              Operational Evaluation Command, Alexandria, Virginia; and the Assistant
              Secretary of the Army for Research, Development, and Acquisition,
              Washington, D.C.

              We conducted our review from April to August 1997 in accordance with
              generally accepted government auditing standards.


              As agreed with your office, unless you publicly announce its contents
              earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days from its
              issue date. At that time, we will send copies to other interested
              congressional committees; the Secretaries of Defense and the Army; the
              Director, Office of Management and Budget; and other interested parties.
              We will also make copies available to others upon request.




              Page 12                            GAO/NSIAD-98-16 Brilliant Antiarmor Submunition
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If you or your staff have questions concerning this report, please contact
me at (202) 512-4841. The major contributors to this report were
Bill Graveline, Laura Durland, and John Randall.

Sincerely yours,




Louis J. Rodrigues
Director, Defense Acquisitions Issues




Page 13                           GAO/NSIAD-98-16 Brilliant Antiarmor Submunition
Appendix I

Comments From the Department of Defense


Note: GAO comments
supplementing those in the
report text appear at the
end of this appendix.




                             Page 14   GAO/NSIAD-98-16 Brilliant Antiarmor Submunition
Appendix I
Comments From the Department of Defense




Page 15                             GAO/NSIAD-98-16 Brilliant Antiarmor Submunition
                 Appendix I
                 Comments From the Department of Defense




See comment 1.




See comment 2.




See comment 3.




                 Page 16                             GAO/NSIAD-98-16 Brilliant Antiarmor Submunition
                 Appendix I
                 Comments From the Department of Defense




See comment 4.




See comment 5.




See comment 6.




                 Page 17                             GAO/NSIAD-98-16 Brilliant Antiarmor Submunition
               Appendix I
               Comments From the Department of Defense




               The following are GAO’s comments on the Department of Defense’s (DOD)
               letter dated September 12, 1997.


               1. Although DOD states that the Army has adamantly maintained a
GAO Comments   test/fix/test approach to all test flights and always ensured that the
               necessary analysis was completed before conducting the next test flight in
               the series, DOD acknowledges that the Army had not completed the root
               cause analysis on the third seeker flight failure before executing the next
               flight test.

               2. After the draft of this report was sent to DOD for comment, the Army
               revised its testing schedule to postpone the final flight tests from October
               to November 1997. If the seeker testing had progressed as planned, the
               Army should have been able to use a qualified seeker in this final test.
               However, program officials have subsequently confirmed that the seeker
               test schedule has since slipped even further behind because of technical
               difficulties. The program office has had to add additional modifications
               and testing to the seeker. Program officials state they will not be able to
               qualify the seeker prior to the completion of the development flight tests,
               even with the date slip reflected in DOD’s comments.

               3. If the Army needs more submunitions to complete development
               activities and for testing, it is not necessary to start low-rate initial
               production to do that. For operational testing purposes, the standard is
               that the submunitions be production representative, not production
               missiles. Because of the difficulty in stopping production once it starts, we
               are concerned about the Army starting production of an unqualified and
               largely unproven submunition. We are also concerned about the use of
               acquisition strategies that tend to force the start of low-rate production on
               a definite schedule, regardless of the status of the development effort.
               Moreover, in our opinion, the potential costs associated with buying a
               submunition that has significant unresolved technical problems more than
               offsets concerns about potential costs that may be incurred if production
               was delayed until the technical problems are resolved.

               4. According to DOD testing officials, the Army has not demonstrated that it
               has a dedicated sensor that can provide accurate targeting information to
               the Block 1A missiles. These officials maintain that this is an issue for the
               Block II missile. To indicate how serious this issue is, DOD has established
               a general officer steering committee to resolve the problem. The Block II’s
               schedule may still be delayed because of this problem.



               Page 18                             GAO/NSIAD-98-16 Brilliant Antiarmor Submunition
           Appendix I
           Comments From the Department of Defense




           5. We have modified the report to address this comment.

           6. While the Army wants only to consider the results from tests that may
           occur prior to the production decision, we believe the Army must
           demonstrate that it can successfully dispense qualified tactical brilliant
           antiarmor submunitions before seeking approval for low-rate initial
           production.




(707243)   Page 19                             GAO/NSIAD-98-16 Brilliant Antiarmor Submunition
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