Circumstances Surrounding the ASPJ Limited Production Decision

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-05-11.

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

                    United States General Accounting   Office   /v/     bTq 3


For Release          Circumstances     Surrounding     the ASPJ Limited
on Delivery          Production    Decision
Ex ected at
9: 5 0 a.m. EDT
May 11, 1990

                     Statement of
                     Louis J. Rodrigues,   Director,     Command, Control,
                       Communications,   and Intelligence     Issues
                     National   Security and International     Affairs
                     Before the
                     Subcommittee  on Federal  Services
                     Committee on Governmental   Affairs
                     United States Senate


GAO/T-NSIAD-90-40                                                       GAO Form   160(1218’7)
Mr. Chairman                and Members of the Subcommittee:

I am pleased                to be here          today          to discuss          the Airborne              Self-
Protection              Jammer (ASPJ) program,                         which     is to develop               a common
defensive             electronic         countermeasure                  system       for      tactical
aircraft..              At the       request       of this             Subcommittee,               we have examined
(1)       how ASPJ test              results       were reported                 and used in the                low-
rate       initial         production           decision           and (2)         the Department               of
Defense         (DOD) Inspector                 General's              (IG)     conclusions             from    its     audit
of the ASPJ program.

Results         of operational                 testing          were presented               at briefings              of
cognizant             boards        and committees.prior                      to the        low-rate         initial
production              decision.         Some of the briefings                           may have been overly
optimistic.                Regardless           of the          test     results          or how they           were

reported             and interpreted,              decisionmakers                  approved           low rate
initial         production            knowing           that     the     ASPJ had not                satisfactorily
met exit             criteria.

DODIG recommended stretching                              out deliveries                  and eliminating
follow-on             limited        production           decisions.              We agree            with     the
IG's       recommendation              since       it     would         allow      time      for      adequate
operational               testing      thereby           reducing         program           risks.

The ASPJ program              began as separate                 Navy and Air             Force
development           programs.           In 1976,      DOD       directed         the two services               to
jointly        develop       an 'advanced       standardized                system       that    could      be
used on a number of tactical                        aircraft            and designated           the     Navy as
the     lead      service.          DOD   awarded      the      full-scale          development
contract          in 1981 to         ITT Corporation              and Westinghouse               Electronics
Corporation.             The initial         acquisition                strategy        was to eventually
qualify        both    contractors          to build           the entire          system       and thereby
open subsequent              procurement        to annual               competition         between       the
two.       As of 1988,         the Navy and Air                 Force planned,to                buy about
2,400      ASPJ systems --900              and 1,500           units,       respectively--with               an
estimated          program     cost       of $4.8      billion.             In January          1990,    the      Air
Force      terminated         its     participation             in the        program.

ASPJ is        intended       to increase         aircraft              survivability           by masking
its     location       or deceiving          enemy radar                as to the        true    location         of
the    aircraft        as shown in figure                1.1.

Figure       1.1:     How the ASPJ Works to Deceive                      Enemy Radar

                                                                                            Enemy Aircraft

                                                                  Enemy Air Defense Missile System

ASPJ is supposed           to provide         tactical       fighter        aircraft              jamming
capability          in a high      density     threat       environment.               It        is designed
to automatically           engage multiple              threats      simultaneously                     and
overcome       the threats         it   considers        most dangerous             by selecting                 the
most appropriate           defensive         response       from a variety                  of
preprogrammed          noise    and deception            jamming techniques.                       It     must
be capable          of providing        self-protection            against        the threat                  beyond
the year       2OOq.


The purpose             of the ASPJ test                    program       is to determine                 whether          the
system         is capable           of effectively                  countering        defensive            threat
systems,         that.    is surface-to-air                     missiles          and anti-aircraft
artillery         guns,        and airborne                 radar.        In accordance             with       DOD
guidance,         the     test       program           is structured              in two distinct              but
overlapping            phases-- developmental                         and operational              test     and
evaluation.              Developmental                 test      and evaluation             assists         the
engineering            design        and development                   process       and verifies             that
technical         specifications                     are met.          Operational          test      and
evaluation          assesses            a system's             operational          effectiveness              and
suitability.              Initial         operational                 testing      is used to predict
potential         operational                 effectiveness              and suitability.                  After      the
production         decision,             follow-on             operational          testing         verifies
operational            effectiveness                  and suitability.

The Navy and Air                 Force         conducted            separate       developmental             testing
programs         from     1986 to 1988.                     The basic           ASPJ is a five-box,                  255-
pound,       internal        system            for     FA-18 aircraft..               In June 1986,                the
Navy began testing                   at the           Naval     Air      Test     Center,      Patuxent            River,
Maryland,         with     the basic                 system,        in the       F-18A.       The system             for
the   F-16 and F-14 aircraft                           is     referred          to as the common ASPJ and
adds two more boxes and about                                 90 pounds to the basic                      system.           In
January        1987,     the      Air     Force         began testing              at Eglin         Air     Force
Base,       Florida,       with         the     seven-box             system      in the      F-16A.

Operational                testing       started         in July          1988 and was completed                         in
February            1989 using           the full-scale                  development             model       integrated
into      the Navy's              F-18A and installed                     on, but          not      integrated           into,
the      Air     Force's          F-16A.            System integration                is required                to test
ASPJ's          compatibility                with     the, aircraft's              other         avionics.             The Air
Force          Operational            Test      and Evaluation              Center          and the          Navy's
Operational                Test      and Evaluation              Force      evaluated             the     test        results
against          the performance                    requirements           in the Test               and Evaluation
Master          Plan.        The Air          Force      performed          laboratory               tests       at    its
electronic                warfare      simulation             facility           in Fort         Worth,       Texas,          and
flight          tests       at Eglin          Air     Force      Base.       The Navy conducted                        flight
tests       at the          Naval Weapons Center,                        China     Lake,         California,            and
Navy and Air                Force      test         ranges     in Nevada.


The Navy completed                     its     report        on operational                 testing          in April
1989,      but       the Air          Force did          not finalize              their         report       until
August          1989.        However,          results         of these          tests       were presented                   at
briefings            to cognizant              boards        and committees                 prior       to the         low-
rate      initial           production              review     in June 1989.                 These briefings
included            the

--     Naval        Air     System Command Acquisition                           Review Board meeting                         of
       April        20,     1989;

--      Navy     Program          Decision      Meeting        of May 10, 1989;

--      C31 Systems          Committee          Review of May 31,                   1989;      and

--      Defense      Acquisition              Board low-rate              initial       production           review
        on June 12, 1989.

Some of the briefings                       on test       results         may have been overly
optimistic.               As the         IG observed,          these        briefings          may have been
influenced           by inappropriate                  direction          from the Naval              Air    Systems
Command's Acquisition                       Review Board.               At its       April      20,    1989,
meeting,          the     Bpard denied              approval        to go forward              to the       next
review         level--      the      Navy Program           Decision         Meeting--because                Navy and
Air      Force     testers           had not provided               a clear         supportive
recommendation               for      the     low-rate       initial         production          decision.              The
Board also           recommended that                  Navy and Air            Force     test        organizations
stress         positive        test       results        in future         program       briefings.                In
fact,      Navy and Air               Force     test      reports         show that,          although
required         during        initial         operational             testing,       the ASPJ did            not
demonstrate              potential          operational         effectiveness                and suitability.

Navy testers              concluded          that      the ASPJ was marginally
operationally              effective           and marginally              operationally              suitable.
To become potentially                       operationally              effective,        the     system       had to
be vsted           against          and meet other             known threat             requirements,               and
to become potentially                       operationally                  suitable,          certain       critical
operational            issues,           such as reliability,                        maintainability,               and
built-in-test               requirements,              had to be resolved.                         Navy testers
recommended disapproval                       of ASPJ for                  limited        fleet        introduction
until      several          corrective            actions          were taken             and verified            during
additional          testing..

According         to the Air              Force       test     report,           $11 critical              operational
issues       and objectives                 in the test              plan      were assessed,               but     many
ratings         were undetermined                    because         the      full-scale           development
version         of the ASPJ was not mature.                                  In fact,         the testers
concluded         that       critical         operational                  suitability            issues     were
undetermined               because        the system           tested          tias not production
representative               and therefore               not       ready       for       suitability         testing.
Like      the    Navy,       Air     Force      testers            did      not specifically                recommend
low-rate         initial        production             and,        in a highly'qualified                     statement,
concluded         that       tests        of the production                     version        would       be necessary
to determine               the system's              effectiveness               and suitability.

On May 17,          1989,          the    Office       of the Director                    of Operational               Test
and Evaluation               reported         to the Assistant                       Secretary          of Defense
for,      Command, Control,                  Communications,                   and Intelligence,                  on
ASPJ's      operational              test     results.              The Office              concluded        that       ASPJ
was marginally               operationally               effective             and marginally
operationally               suitable.           It     also        concluded,             as did        the Navy,         that
the Lytem should                not be deployed                    until       a successful              operational


        test      is conducted.                Given       only        the        options        of approving               low-rate
        initial       production              or program           term ination,                 the     Office
        recom m ended approval                   on July          17,       1989.            (Details         on the        Office's
        position           and rationale            for     its        decision              are classified.)


        Regardless           of the quality                of the           test       results          or how they           were
        reported          and interpreted,                 the     Deputy             Secretary          of Defense           and
        Under      Secretary          of Defense            for        Acquisition               knew that           the     ASPJ
        was m arginally              operationally                effective             and m arginally
        operationally              suitable.              They were aware                     that      the     ASPJ had not
        satisfactorily               m et exit       criteria               for       the     authorization             to
        proceed       from        full-scale         developm ent                  to low-rate            initial
        production.               Nevertheless,             on August                 7, 1989,          the Under           Secretary
        recom m ended approval                   of low-rate                initial           production,            and on
        August       16,     1989,      the      Deputy      Secretary                 concurred          in that
        recom m endation.

        According          to the Defense              M anagem ent Report                       to the        President,
        dated      July      1989,      m ajor      acquisition                   programs           m ust m eet
        established           baseline           requirem ents--cost,                         schedule,         and
        perform ance--         or exit         criteria            before             they     can transition                from      one
        m ilestone         to the      next.         In com m enting                   at a July          11,       1989,     DOD
        news briefing              on the        report,         the        Deputy           Secretary         of Defense
        noted*that          the     process         of developing                   new systems               has to be

disciplined            so that       when a program                    proceeds         from    one acquisition
phase to another,                 DOD knows it                  met all        the criteria.             -From the
documents          we reviewed,             it      appears           that     the decision            to approve
low-rate        initial         production                for     ASPJ was based on management's
prerogative            rather       than         strict         adherence         to the principles                  of
DOD's acquisition'guidance                            or the Defense               Management Report                  to
the     President.

The Under          Secretary         offered              two options            to the members of the
Defense       Acquisition            Board --approve                   limited      production           or
terminate          the program.              A third              option       to delay        the decision                in
the hope that             further         testing           would       provide         substantiation               for        a
favorable          decision         was'considered.                     This     option        could     have been
implemented            using      the     20 production                 verification            units      scheduled
for     delivery        from      November 1989 to April                         1991.         However,         members
of the Board argued                  that         termination                or delay     would have an
adverse       effect         on operational                 aircraft           and on the        vendor         base,
the number of vendors                     in the program.                      They believed            that     a
prolonged          testing        period          would         cause the        vendor        base to disappear
and result          in operational                  requirements               not being        met.       Although
these      arguments           were undocumented,                      the Deputy         Secretary            and Under
Secretary          apparently            recommended approval                     for     the decision
largely       based on their                concern             for    vendor     base dry            up and impact
on operational               aircraft.             As the DOD/IG reported,                       it     could        not
validate       these         concerns        during             its   audit.


The recent            DOD/IG audit             confirms         that    problems       with     the ASPJ
program        will      probably         be exacerbated               by the Air        Force .withdrawal
from      the program.                One of the most obvious                     impacts      is a
significant            increase          in unit       cost        as a result        of the drop             in
planned        buys for          the ASPJ from             2,400       to approximatelv               800 units.

We agree        with      the     IG's     major       recommendation              calling      for      the
elimination            of follow-on             limited       production          decisions.             Low-rate
initial        production             should     be limited            to the      100 units          currently
on contract,            especially             as the      total       program      buy is expected                  to
drop      to approximately                800 units.               In addition,        we agree          with        the
DOD/IG's        proposal          to stretch           out deliveries              of low-rate           initial
production            units      so that        complete         and adequate          operational              test
and evaluation                can be accomplished                   without      a break       in production.
If     these    recommendations                 are    implemented,           DOD would         substantially
reduce      program           risks     by assuring           the system demonstrates                        required
performance            prior      to further           production          commitments.

Mr. Chairman,             before         concluding         my testimony,             I would         like      to
express        our concern             about     the      implications           of the Air           Force
withdrawal.             As we have reported                   a number of times               during          the
1980s', Air           Force     and Navy electronic                    warfare      programs      are marked

by extensive            and unnecessary                  proliferation            of systems             to meet a
common threat.               However,          the ASPJ has represented                           a joint       Air
Force      and Navy program                offering          potential           for     achieving            the
significant          benefits            inherent         in common-service                    systems.         These
benefits        include          elimination             of duplicative                research         and
development           costs,       savings          in production               resulting          from larger
quantity        buys,      and reduced              logistics         costs       stemming             from common
spare'parts,            maintenance            equipment,          and training.

The current          concern         about      the pending              ASPJ unit             price     increase
resulting          from    the     Air     Force         withdrawal         clearly            reinforces           our
belief      that     common systems                can result            in significant                 savings.          If
the Air       Force       decides         to develop            and procure             a new internal
jammer to meet its                 needs,       our concern              with     unnecessary
proliferation             and duplicative                 developmental                costs     will     be further

I want to make it                 clear     that         GAO is neither                an advocate            nor an
opponent        of the ASPJ.               However,          as we have recommended in the
past,      the Air        Force      and Navy should               acquire             a common jammer to
meet requirements--                whether          it    be ASPJ or an alternative.

Mr. Chairman,             this     concludes             my testimony.             We will             be pleased         to
answer      any questions             you or members of the                       Subcommittee                have.