It might not sound like the most gripping reading, but this new report issued by the Defense Department’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) contains some real gems.
Department head Dr. J. Michael Gilmore writes that of the 311 Major Defense Acquisition Programs his office reviewed in fiscal 2011, 67 experienced either significant delays and/or Nunn-McCurdy breaches, with 36 actually reaching the fabled Nunn-McCurdy status. And those 67 programs accounted for a whopping 158 delays.
When broken down by service branch, the numbers look like this: 55% (6/11) of the Army programs the office reported were able to meet their reliability thresholds, with aviation (CH-47 and UH-72) and trucks and artillery performing well, “while networks and unmanned systems did not do well.”
Moreover, 63% (17/27) of the Navy systems studied met their reliability thresholds, with the majority of the reliable systems being “aircraft or aircraft-related systems developed in Navair, such as the H-1 upgrades to the AH‑1W and UH-1N helicopters, as well as the MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters,” Gilmore notes. “Other reliable systems were submarines and related systems such as the USS Virginia, USS Ohio, and the TB-34 towed array.”
The Air Force didn’t fare quite so well, with a mere 27% (3/11) of programs meeting their reliability thresholds. “The three systems that performed reliably were the B-2 Radar Modernization Program, Space-Based Surveillance System and the C-5 Reliability Improvement and Re-Engining Program,” he writes, while “other programs such as Small Diameter Bomb, Global Broadcast Service, Joint Mission Planning System, MQ-9 Reaper, Miniature Air-Launched Decoy, C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft, and Global Hawk demonstrated poor reliability.”
While the report concludes that testing and test requirements normally do not cause major program delays or drive costs, issues such as quality control, software development, scheduling and poor performance during testing are factors that have caused program delays.