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Electronic Warfare: Test Results Do Not Support Buying More Common Sensor Systems (Letter Report, 03/24/98, GAO/NSIAD-98-3).

GAO conducted a follow-up review of the Intelligence and Electronic
Warfare Common Sensor (IEWCS) program, focusing on whether results of
testing conducted since its previous review support continued IEWCS
production.

GAO noted that: (1) test results now available do not support continued
IEWCS production; (2) the Army postponed operational testing scheduled
for fiscal year (FY) 1997 that was to demonstrate IEWCS operational
effectiveness and suitability in a realistic combat environment; (3) the
Army replaced operational testing with less-rigorous developmental
testing, which showed that the system has serious hardware and software
problems; (4) furthermore, FY 1996 tests of IEWCS on a Marine Corps
vehicle showed that the Marine Corps' IEWCS prototype also has serious
problems, including inaccurately identifying the direction to hostile
communication systems by as much as 100 degrees; (5) although the Army
plans to conduct additional research and development work on IEWCS, in
the interim, it still intends to contract for five more systems while
trying to correct the problems; and (6) lastly, despite the IEWCS
system's many problems, the Marine Corps has joined with the Army and is
procuring two IEWCS systems.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-98-3
     TITLE:  Electronic Warfare: Test Results Do Not Support Buying More 
             Common Sensor Systems
      DATE:  03/24/98
   SUBJECT:  Testing
             Concurrency
             Army procurement
             Research and development contracts
             Electronic warfare
             Advanced weapons systems
IDENTIFIER:  Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Common Sensor
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to the Secretary of Defense

March 1998

ELECTRONIC WARFARE - TEST RESULTS
DO NOT SUPPORT BUYING MORE COMMON
SENSOR SYSTEMS

GAO/NSIAD-98-3

Electronic Warfare

(707229)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  DOD - Department of Defense
  IEWCS - Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Common Sensor
  LRIP - low-rate initial production
  TEXCOM - Test and Experimentation Command

Letter
=============================================================== LETTER


B-276172

March 24, 1998

The Honorable William S.  Cohen
The Secretary of Defense

Dear Mr.  Secretary: 

We have completed our follow-up review of the Intelligence and
Electronic Warfare Common Sensor (IEWCS) program, which is to provide
the Army and the Marine Corps with improved signals intelligence
capability.  In 1995, we suggested the Army's fiscal year 1996 IEWCS
procurement request be reduced because operational testing to prove
the system worked properly was not scheduled until fiscal year
1997.\1 In 1996, we reported the Army had prematurely committed to
low-rate production the prior year and recommended that additional
IEWCS production planned for fiscal year 1997 be canceled.\2 In
response, the Department of Defense (DOD) reduced the number of
systems to be procured, but permitted the Army to proceed.  To assist
the Congress in its oversight of DOD's management of systems
acquisitions, we conducted this follow-up review to determine whether
results of testing conducted since our previous review support
continued IEWCS production. 


--------------------
\1 1996 Defense Budget:  Potential Reductions, Rescissions, and
Restrictions in RDT&E and Procurement (GAO/NSIAD-95-218BR, Sept.  15,
1995). 

\2 Electronic Warfare:  Additional Buys of Sensor System Should Be
Delayed Pending Satisfactory Testing (GAO/NSIAD-96-175, Sept.  27,
1996). 


   BACKGROUND
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1


      IEWCS OBJECTIVE IS TO
      PROVIDE IMPROVED SIGNALS
      INTELLIGENCE
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :1.1

IEWCS is being concurrently designed and produced to provide select
Army and Marine Corps units with improved signals intelligence and
electronic attack capability against communications systems used by
hostile forces.  Through fiscal year 1997, the Army and the Marine
Corps have spent a total of $750.8 million to develop IEWCS and
procure 17 systems for the Army and the Marine Corps.  These IEWCS
systems have been or are to be fielded on Army light vehicles, heavy
armored vehicles, or EH-60 helicopters, and Marine Corps light
armored vehicles.  (See fig.  1.)

   Figure 1:  EH-60 Helicopter
   Hovers Over (l.  to r.) Army
   Light and Heavy and Marine
   Corps Light Armored Vehicles

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Source:  U.S.  Army.

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

IEWCS is expected to be capable of intercepting enemy communications
signals, locating the source of those signals, and jamming them
electronically.  It is also expected to be capable of locating enemy
radars.  The Army started low-rate initial production (LRIP) in
fiscal year 1995 on an urgent basis to field IEWCS on light vehicles
to counter a particular type of communications system.  To further
address its urgent need, the Army also planned to add IEWCS to seven
EH-60 helicopters using 2 additional years of LRIP.  The first three
EH-60 IEWCS systems were planned for fiscal
year 1996 and the remaining four systems for fiscal year 1997. 


      COMMITMENT TO IEWCS LRIP WAS
      PREMATURE
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :1.2

The DOD Comptroller considered our 1995 report in evaluating the
Army's fiscal year 1997 budget request and reduced the Army's planned
second procurement of EH-60 IEWCS systems from four to one. 
Subsequently, we monitored the IEWCS program in anticipation of
forthcoming 1996 developmental tests. 

In September 1996, we concluded on the basis of the developmental
test results that the Army had prematurely committed to LRIP of the
unproven IEWCS system and planned additional LRIP that was not
justified by test results.  We also pointed out that the Army had
plans to enter full-rate production without demonstrating that IEWCS
could meet minimum acceptable operational performance requirements. 
Furthermore, we concluded that unless this acquisition strategy was
changed, the Army was at risk of becoming committed to procuring an
unsatisfactory system requiring redesign and retrofit to achieve
acceptable system performance. 

We recommended that the Secretary of Defense require the Army to
cancel the planned fiscal year 1997 procurement of one EH-60 IEWCS
system; establish specific, measurable, minimum acceptable
performance requirements; and demonstrate IEWCS capability to meet
these requirements before proceeding with additional procurement. 
DOD did not cancel planned fiscal year 1997 production, but did agree
that the Army should establish key performance parameters before
conducting Initial Operational Test and Evaluation planned for fiscal
year 1997.  (Operational testing is DOD's primary means of
determining if a system will be effective and suitable in a realistic
combat environment.)


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2

Test results now available do not support continued IEWCS production. 
The Army postponed operational testing scheduled for fiscal year 1997
that was to demonstrate IEWCS operational effectiveness and
suitability in a realistic combat environment.  The Army replaced
operational testing with less-rigorous developmental testing, which
showed that the system has serious hardware and software problems. 
Furthermore, fiscal year 1996 tests of IEWCS on a Marine Corps
vehicle showed that the Marine Corps' IEWCS prototype also has
serious problems, including inaccurately identifying the direction to
hostile communication systems by as much as 100 degrees.  Although
the Army plans to conduct additional research and development work on
IEWCS, in the interim, it still intends to contract for five more
systems while trying to correct the problems.  Lastly, despite the
IEWCS system's many problems, the Marine Corps has joined with the
Army and is procuring two IEWCS systems. 


   OPERATIONAL TESTING CANCELED
   WHILE SERIOUS PROBLEMS REMAIN
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3

Subsequent to our 1996 report, the Army postponed the planned fiscal
year 1997 operational test of IEWCS.  Instead, the Army conducted
additional less-rigorous developmental testing of the system on Army
vehicles and an operational assessment of IEWCS on a Marine Corps
vehicle.  These tests revealed that serious problems remain to be
corrected for IEWCS on both the Army and the Marine Corps platforms. 


      ARMY ADDRESSING HARDWARE AND
      SOFTWARE PROBLEMS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.1

According to the IEWCS Project Manager, the Army is concentrating on
overcoming 47 software-related technical issues and 19 hardware and
maintenance issues identified during additional developmental testing
on Army vehicles.  While many of the specifics of the problems are
considered classified by the Army, in general, the software issues
focus on system robustness, system accuracy, ease of use, and system
throughput.  According to program officials, there are several
software problems for which no short-term fixes exist and additional
systems engineering will be required at some later date.  The
hardware issues deal generally with system accuracy, and the
maintenance issues with reliability.  In addition to those problems,
the Army remains concerned about the inability of IEWCS systems to
demonstrate the ability to share data with each other.  This is
necessary for precisely locating hostile communication sources so
they can be attacked, the primary reason why the Army wants IEWCS. 


      TEST OF MARINE CORPS IEWCS
      REVEALED SERIOUS PROBLEMS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.2

Tests of the Marine Corps' prototype IEWCS system have also revealed
serious problems.  In September 1996, after the planned Army
operational test was postponed, the Army's Test and Experimentation
Command (TEXCOM) at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, conducted a less rigorous
operational assessment of an IEWCS system mounted in a Marine Corps
light armored vehicle. 

In preparation for the test, the Marine Corps identified criteria to
measure 46 parameters of the system.  During the assessment, however,
Army testers only attempted to achieve 26 of the Marine Corps'
criteria, and the system experienced significant problems.  For
example, the system was expected to identify the direction to the
source of an intercepted communications signal within 5 degrees, but
experienced inaccuracies of up to 100 degrees. 

In addition, other significant weaknesses observed during the
assessment of the Marine Corps' IEWCS system included ineffective
active noise reduction headsets, leaving operators unable to hear
intercepted communications, and IEWCS system crashes when operators
used the digital tape recorder storage system.  The Marine Corps
system also required frequent recalibration to try to get accurate
readings of the direction of intercepted signals.  As a result of
these and other problems, the system failed every 4.08 hours on
average, though the desired mean time between operational mission
failure rate is 65 hours.  Upon completion of the Operational
Assessment, TEXCOM described it as an "extremely complex, maintenance
heavy, contractor dependent system."

Additionally, the assessment of the Marine Corps' IEWCS system was
not representative of expected operational conditions and was
hampered due to mechanical problems with the vehicle's generator and
air conditioning.  As a result, instead of being tested on-the-move,
the vehicle sat in place, connected to external electrical power and
air conditioning to keep the IEWCS components activated.  This
limitation precluded testing of the system's capability to operate
while moving and therefore 20 of the 46 performance parameters could
not be tested. 


   MARINE CORPS BEGINS IEWCS LRIP
   DESPITE POOR TEST RESULTS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4

Despite the poor test results, the Marine Corps approved LRIP of two
IEWCS systems.  According to officials of the Marine Corps
Operational Test and Evaluation Activity who reviewed the results,
the assessment (1) demonstrated that the Marine Corps' IEWCS system
had potential, (2) provided a yardstick to measure future progress,
and (3) provided focus for continued development.  Therefore, the
Marine Corps decided to award an $11 million contract for two IEWCS
systems in December 1996. 


   REVISED ACQUISITION STRATEGY
   STILL ALLOWS SOME PRODUCTION
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5

Since the 1996 test of the Marine Corps' IEWCS prototype, the Army
has revised its acquisition strategy and now plans to conduct
additional research and development work on the IEWCS system to try
to improve its performance.  In addition, the Congress denied the
Army's fiscal year 1998 budget request for $26.8 million for
continued IEWCS production, citing the failure of the Army to submit
the system to operational testing. 

However, even though the Army acknowledges the system's problems, it
still intends to use funds provided by the Congress prior to fiscal
year 1998 to contract for two more IEWCS systems for light vehicles
and three more IEWCS for EH-60 helicopters.  The Army plans to
contract for these five systems before the results of its additional
research and development efforts are known and before a rescheduled
operational test is conducted in May 1998. 


   RECOMMENDATION
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6

The Army plans to contract for five more IEWCS systems without
demonstrating that additional research and development efforts have
corrected known deficiencies.  Therefore, we recommend that you
direct the Secretary of the Army to delay contracting for additional
IEWCS systems until operational testing demonstrates that the
system's many problems are fixed. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :7

In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with the
report and our recommendation.  According to DOD, the Army has
revised its plans, taken steps to reduce the technical problems we
cited, and no longer intends to procure additional IEWCS systems in
fiscal year 1998.  Furthermore, DOD stated that the Army has adjusted
the program's schedule to ensure that no further procurement
decisions will be made without supporting operational test results. 
DOD's comments are reprinted in appendix I. 


   SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :8

To address our objective of determining whether test results support
continued IEWCS production, we interviewed Army IEWCS program
officials and reviewed briefing, budgetary, and planning documents
from the office of the Army Project Manager, Signals Warfare, Vint
Hill Farms Station, Warrenton, Virginia (now located at Fort
Monmouth, New Jersey).  We also interviewed Marine Corps test
officials and obtained test plan and report documents from the Office
of the Mobile Electronic Warfare Support System Project Manager and
the Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Agency, Quantico,
Virginia.  We obtained, reviewed, and analyzed test results prepared
by the Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Test Directorate, Fort
Huachuca, Arizona. 

We conducted our review between January and December 1997 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 


---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :8.1

As you know, 31 U.S.C.  720 requires the head of a federal agency to
submit a written statement on actions taken on our recommendations to
the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the House Committee
on Government Reform and Oversight not later than 60 days after the
date of the report.  A written statement must also be submitted to
the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations with an agency's
first request for appropriations made more than 60 days after the
date of the report. 

We are sending copies of this letter to interested congressional
committees, the Secretaries of the Army and the Navy, and the
Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  We will also
provide copies to others upon request. 

If you or your staff have questions, please contact me at (202)
512-4841.  Major contributors to this assignment were Robert Coleman,
Charles Ward, and Paul Latta. 

Sincerely yours,

Louis J.  Rodrigues
Director, Defense Acquisition Issues




(See figure in printed edition.)APPENDIX I
COMMENTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF
DEFENSE
============================================================== Letter 



(See figure in printed edition.)


*** End of document. ***