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Live Fire Test & Evaluation (LFT&E)

DAU GLOSSARY DEFINITION

A test process that provides a timely assessment of the survivability and/or lethality of a conventional weapon or conventional weapon system as it progresses through its design and development. LFT&E is a statutory requirement (Title 10 U.S.C. § 2366) for covered systems, major munitions programs, missile programs, or product improvements to a covered system, major munitions programs, or missile programs before they can proceed beyond Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP).

Alternate Definition
A test process evaluates the vulnerability and /or lethality aspects of a conventional weapon or conventional weapon system. LFT&E is a statutory requirement (Title 10 U.S.C. § 2366) for covered systems, major munitions programs, missile programs, or product improvements to a covered system, major munitions programs, or missile programs before they can proceed Beyond Low Rate Initial Production (BLRIP). By law, a covered system is any vehicle, weapon platform, or conventional weapon system that includes features designed to provide some degree of protection to users in combat and that is an Acquisition Category (ACAT) I or ACAT II program. (Note: The term “covered system” can also be taken to mean any system or program that is covered by Title 10 U.S.C. § 2366, including major munitions and missile programs.)
General Information

LFT&E is the term given to the program which addresses Title 10, Section 2366, of the United States Code, "Major systems and munitions programs: survivability testing and lethality testing required before full-scale production." LFT&E addresses two distinct types of testing – survivability and lethality.

 

Realistic survivability testing consists of "testing for vulnerability of the system in combat by firing munitions likely to be encountered in combat (or munitions with a capability similar to such munitions) at the system configured for combat, with the primary emphasis on testing vulnerability with respect to potential user casualties and taking into equal consideration the susceptibility to attack and combat performance of the system." Survivability testing is required for “covered systems” (or covered product improvement for a covered program).

 

A covered system is a vehicle, weapon platform, or conventional weapon system

 

  • that includes features designed to provide some degree of protection to users in combat; and
  • that is a major system” [i.e. ACAT I or II, or as designed by USD(AT&L)]. Public Law 110-417 adds that a covered system may also be "any other system or program designated by the Secretary of Defense for purposes of this section.

 

Realistic lethality testing is "testing for lethality by firing the munition or missile concerned at appropriate targets configured for combat." Lethality testing is required for major munitions or missile programs (or covered product improvement for such a program).

 

A major munitions program is

 

  • a munition program for which more than 1,000,000 rounds are planned to be acquired; or
  • a conventional munitions program that is a major system.

 

LFT&E Reports are required at the conclusion of LFT&E survivability or lethality testing, no later than prior to a Full-Rate Production Decision Review (FRPDR). Public Law 110-417 added that ‘‘If a decision is made within the Department of Defense to proceed to operational use of a system, or to make procurement funds available for a system, before Milestone C approval of that system, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees, as soon as practicable after such decision . . . A report describing the status of survivability and live fire testing of that system,” or the final LFT&E Report. Survivability and Lethality testing may be conducted for systems which are not covered by the LFT&E criteria specified in 10 U.S.C. § 2366; however, that testing should not be referred to as Live Fire Test and Evaluation (LFT&E). LFT&E is reserved for describing those tests which are specifically required to address 10 U.S.C. § 2366. For example, an armed unmanned vehicle may be tested for both survivability and lethality, but would not necessarily meet the definition of a covered system or major munitions program and would therefore not require LFT&E. Title 10, Section 139 gives the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation ( DOT&E) the responsibility to "monitor and review the live fire testing activities of the Department of Defense."

 

DoDI 5000.02, Operation of the Defense Acquisition System has guidance on LFT&E:

 

  • 6.d.(5) states that "The DOT&E, following consultation with the PM, shall determine the number of production or production-representative test articles required for live-fire test and evaluation (LFT&E)"
  • 6. d. (6) requires that "A DOT&E-approved LFT&E strategy shall guide LFT&E activity."
  • 7. c. (2). (a) Specifies that a decision to proceed beyond low-rate to full-rate production requires “submission (where applicable) of the LFT&E Report to the congressional defense committees, the Secretary of Defense, and the USD (AT&L).”
  • Table 2-1, Statutory Requirements Application to MDAPs and MAIS Acquisition Programs, and Table 2-2, Statutory Requirements Applicable to ACAT II and Below Acquisition Programs, requires the following for programs on the OSD LFT&E oversight list:
    • [If needed] an LFT&E Waiver from Full-Up, System-Level Testing at Milestone B (or as soon as practicable after program initiation)
    • An Alternate LFT&E Plan at Milestone B (or as soon as practicable after program initiation) for programs with a waiver from full-up, system-level testing only.
    • A LFT&E Report due by the Full Rate Production Decision Review
  • Table 3, Regulatory Requirements Applicable to All Acquisition Programs (unless otherwise noted), requires a Component LFT&E Report, for DOT&E LFT&E Oversight Programs Only, following completion of LFT&E
  • Enclosure 6, Test and Evaluation, makes extensive reference to LFT&E.

 

Full-up System Level (FUSL) Live Fire Test & Evaluation

 

Every combat veteran has two serious survival questions: Will my weapon kill or disable the intended enemy target? Will the protections provided by my apparel or covered system (vehicle, weapon platform, or conventional weapon system) defend me against the enemy attacking weapon? The definitions of Live Fire in the US Code Title 10 are:

 

  1. The term “covered system” means—
    1. a vehicle, weapon platform, or conventional weapon system that—
      1. include features designed to provide some degree of protection to users in combat;
      2. is a major system as defined in section 2302 (5) of this title; or
    2. any other system or program designated by the Secretary of Defense for purposes of this section.
  2. The term “major munitions program” means—
    1. a munitions program for which more than 1,000,000 rounds are planned to be acquired; or
    2. a conventional munitions program that is a major system within the meaning of that term in section 2302 (5) of this title.
  3. The term “realistic survivability testing” means, in the case of a covered system (or a covered product improvement program for a covered system), testing for vulnerability of the system in combat by firing munitions likely to be encountered in combat (or munitions with a capability similar to such munitions) at the system configured for combat, with the primary emphasis on testing vulnerability with respect to potential user casualties and taking into equal consideration the susceptibility to attack and combat performance of the system.
  4. The term “realistic lethality testing” means, in the case of a major munitions program or a missile program (or a covered product improvement program for such a program), testing for lethality by firing the munitions or missile concerned at appropriate targets configured for combat.
  5. The term “configured for combat”, with respect to a weapon system, platform, or vehicle, means loaded or equipped with all dangerous materials (including all flammables and explosives) that would normally be on board in combat.
  6. The term “covered product improvement program” means a program under which—
    1. a modification or upgrade will be made to a covered system which (as determined by the Secretary of Defense) is likely to affect significantly the survivability of such system; or
    2. a modification or upgrade will be made to a major munitions program or a missile program which (as determined by the Secretary of Defense) is likely to affect significantly the lethality of the munitions or missile produced under the program.

 

Issues in the development of Live Fire testing: There are a lot of different ways to do Live Fire Test and Evaluation. In this section we will talk about several the different aspects of the development and execution of a Live Fire test plan. This is not intended to be a complete definition of all the aspect of these test, but rather a discussion of some of the many aspect of test design which will affect the validity and usefulness of the Live Fire testing.

 

General Issues: There are a number of specific issues that are specific to live fire testing that differ significantly from other testing conducted by the DoD. These issues include but are not limited to the following.

 

Test Data: As with any other kind of testing Live Fire Testing is only as good as the data you can collect. However Live Fire testing has several specific issues which complicate data collection. Because of the problem of explosion, fire and shock damage data collection sensor can be damage during this kind of testing. Special precautions should be taken to protect data collection sensors and the communications links associated with them. Also the need to replace damaged sensors should be figured into the budget. In addition to the issues with damage to data collection systems there is the issue that explosions by their very nature happen very fast. As a result there may be a requirement for high speed data collection equipment and systems.

 

Safety: In all DoD testing safety is a primary concern. However, Live Fire testing introduces significant additional safety concerns. The ranges where the testing is conducted will manage most of the safety issues. However there are a number of other concerns which must be managed by the program manager and the chief engineer. These include, training; the program staff that participates in Live Fire testing will need additional training to participate in the testing. This will limit the number of staff that can participate in the testing. Also safety issues will have a significant effect on program schedule.

 

Test asset planning: Because Live Fire testing is inherently destructive it is important plan for test assets that may not be returnable to the field. These may be older units that are not going to be repaired and returned to use or first articles in the event of a new program.

 

Test order planning: Different Live Fire tests have different capacity for distraction. As a result, it is very important to plan to execute the least destructive test first and later the more destructive tests.

 

Testing configurations: The conditions of the tests are critical. Specifically the angles and conditions: “Of the shots will have a dramatic effect on the results of the tests?” Another aspect of Live Fire Testing that is not always well understood is the effect of different ammunition on the test results (not all 50 caliber is the same), or the effect of “equivalent ammunition.” Equivalent ammunition is sometimes used to model third world ammunition suppliers. It should be noted that some equivalent ammunition is a better approximation than others.

 

Documentation: Documentation is of particular importance in Live Fire testing as the results in many cases are very difficult and expensive to reproduce. Therefore when a Live Fire test is conducted it must be completely documented so that the results can be used for the duration of the program and cannot be questioned.

 

Issues with Live Fire Test Types

 

During Live Fire testing a number of different test types are used. Some of these tests are only done in Live Fire testing and some are done in other testing but have differences when done during Live Fire testing.

 

Over Match Testing: Over match testing is peculiar to Live Fire testing. Over match testing is designed to test systems with the largest, most powerful weapons available. The advantage of this type of testing is that we learn how the systems will perform when faced with larger weapons. The disadvantage of this kind of testing is that if the system fails when shot with larger weapons it does not give much insight into the performance of the system with smaller weapons that may be more typical of realistic operating conditions.

 

Testing to failure: Unlike overmatch testing, testing to failure in live fire is normally done by firing multiple shots in the same location until the system fails. This type of testing is useful for determining when the system (vehicle or aircraft) needs to be repaired and can no longer be used in combat missions.

 

Requirements verification testing: This is the most common testing used in Live Fire testing. The test is designed for each shot of sequence/combination of shots to verify a specific requirement. The advantage of this test method is that it generates very direct results. The disadvantage is that in actual combat conditions the system may behave differently. The physics of Live Fire can never be exactly the same from one shot to the next.

 

System Characterization testing: In Live Fire testing we cannot shoot every part of a system at every possible angle with every weapon. We develop a set of shots that will characterize the operating environment and then by using a combination of component testing, system testing, statistical testing and modeling we characterization the predicted performance of the system or vehicle.

 

Component testing vs. System testing: Component testing is used extensively in Live Fire to test the survivability of a specific part or component of a system (shooting the door of a helicopter). Component testing has a number of advantages, including components are much easier to handle than the full system and therefore the shots can be done on smaller, better controlled and instrumented ranges. The disadvantage is that the effects to the larger system cannot be measured (in the round goes through the door we do not know what it would have done to the rest of the vehicle).

 

Statistical testing: Statistical testing in Live Fire is conducted to better understand the effects of random fire on the system. By using statistical models we can develop our shot sequences to be a more accurate example of the real world operational environment. When doing statistical testing and statistical modeling in is important to understand that no statistical model is exact and that some overdesign is required in systems to account for unlikely events happening in the field.

 

Testing to verify models: methodical models are used extensively both in the design of systems and in verifying their performance in Live Fire testing. The use of models allows us to reliably predict the performance of the system under more conditions than we can test (due to time and resource constraints as well as safety). Modeling is used exclusively to predict operator (human) casualties. After a model is developed it is necessary that it be verified with physical test data. Therefore after testing is conducted in the real world, the results compared to the results predicted by the model. After the comparison and an analysis the models can be updated to better predict the behavior in the physical world.

 

  • The Secretary of Defense shall provide that—
    1. a covered system may not proceed beyond low-rate initial production until realistic survivability testing of the system is completed in accordance with this section and the report required by US Code Title 10, Section 2366 subsection (d) with respect to that testing is submitted in accordance with that subsection; and
    2. a major munitions program or a missile program may not proceed beyond low-rate initial production until realistic lethality testing of the program is completed in accordance with this section and the report required by US Code Title 10, Section 2366 subsection (d) with respect to that testing is submitted in accordance with that subsection.
  • The Secretary of Defense shall provide that a covered product improvement program may not proceed beyond low-rate initial production until—
    1. in the case of a product improvement to a covered system, realistic survivability testing is completed in accordance with this section; and
    2. in the case of a product improvement to a major munitions program or a missile program, realistic lethality testing is completed in accordance with this section.

 

Test Guidelines.—

 

  • Survivability and lethality tests required under US Code Title 10, Section 2366 subsection (a) shall be carried out sufficiently early in the development phase of the system or program (including a covered product improvement program) to allow any design deficiency demonstrated by the testing to be corrected in the design of the system, munitions, or missile (or in the product modification or upgrade to the system, munitions, or missile) before proceeding beyond low-rate initial production.
  • The costs of all tests required under that subsection shall be paid from funds available for the system being tested.

 

Waiver Authority.—

 

  • The Secretary of Defense may waive the application of the survivability and lethality tests of this section to a covered system, munitions program, missile program, or covered product improvement program if the Secretary determines that live-fire testing of such system or program would be unreasonably expensive and impractical and submits a certification of that determination to Congress
    • before Milestone B approval for the system or program; or
    • in the case of a system or program initiated at—
      • Milestone B, as soon as is practicable after the Milestone B approval; or
      • Milestone C, as soon as is practicable after the Milestone C approval.
  • In the case of a covered system (or covered product improvement program for a covered system), the Secretary may waive the application of the survivability and lethality tests of this section to such system or program and instead allow testing of the system or program in combat by firing munitions likely to be encountered in combat at components, subsystems, and subassemblies, together with performing design analyses, modeling and simulation, and analysis of combat data. Such alternative testing may not be carried out in the case of any covered system (or covered product improvement program for a covered system) unless the Secretary certifies to Congress, before the system or program enters system development and demonstration, that the survivability and lethality testing of such system or program otherwise required by this section would be unreasonably expensive and impracticable.
  • The Secretary of Defense shall include with any certification under US Code Title 10, Section 2366 paragraph (1) or (2) a report explaining how the Secretary plans to evaluate the survivability or the lethality of the system or program and assessing possible alternatives to realistic survivability testing of the system or program.
  • In time of war or mobilization, the President of the United State may suspend the operation of any provision of this section.

 

Reporting to Congress.—

 

  • At the conclusion of survivability or lethality testing under US Code Title 10, Section 2366 subsection (a), the Secretary of Defense shall submit a report on the testing to the congressional defense committees. Each such report shall describe the results of the survivability or lethality testing and shall give the Secretary’s overall assessment of the testing.
  • If a decision is made within the Department of Defense to proceed to operational use of a system, or to make procurement funds available for a system, before Milestone C approval of that system, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees, as soon as practicable after such decision, the following:
  • A report describing the status of survivability and live fire testing of that system.
  • The report required under US Code Title 10, Section 2366 paragraph (1).

 

Live-Fire Test & Evaluation (LFT&E) FUSL Waiver

 

The LFT&E statute (Title 10 U.S.C § 2366) requires a LFT&E program to include Full Up System Level (FUSL) testing unless a waiver from FUSL is granted with a certification by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD(AT&L)) or the DoD component acquisition executive (CAE) that FUSL testing would be unreasonably expensive and impractical. A waiver package must be sent to the congressional defense committees prior to Milestone B; or, in the case of a system or program initiated at Milestone B, as soon as practicable after Milestone B; or if initiated at Milestone C, as soon as practicable after Milestone C. Typically, this should occur at the time of Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) approval. The waiver package must include a Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) approved alternative plan for LFT&E of components, subassemblies, or subsystems; and, as appropriate, additional design analyses, modeling and simulation (M&S), and combat data analyses.

 

Normally an approved waiver package must be sent to the Congressional defense committees prior to Milestone B, program initiation. Typically, this should occur at the time of the Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) approval. In the case of a system or program initiated after Milestone B, submit a waiver request as soon as practicable after program initiation. The waiver package must include a Director, Operational Test and Evaluation approved alternative plan for LFT&E of components, subassemblies, or subsystems; and, as appropriate, additional design analyses, modeling and simulation, and combat data analyses. The objective of Live Fire Test and Evaluation (LFT&E) is to provide a timely assessment of the vulnerability/lethality of a system as it progresses through its design and development prior to full-rate production.

 

Live Fire Test and Evaluation (LFT&E)

 

A DoD test process that provides a timely assessment of the vulnerability (being hit is assumed) and/or lethality of a conventional weapon or conventional weapon system as it progresses through its design and development. LFT&E (for lethality and survivability) is a statutory requirement (Title 10 U.S.C. § 2366) for covered systems, major munitions programs, missile programs, or product improvements to a covered system, major munitions programs, or missile programs before they can proceed beyond Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP).

 

Live-Fire Test & Evaluation (LFT&E) Report to Congress

 

This report (Live Fire Test & Evaluation Report) is one of two reports which must be sent to Congress prior to the Full Rate Production Decision (FRPD) in the Acquisition Life Cycle.

 

  1. Report prepared by the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) on survivability and lethality testing. Submitted to the Congress for covered systems prior to the decision to proceed beyond Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP). Prepared within 45 days of receiving the component LFT&E Report.
  2. Report prepared by the component on the results of survivability and lethality testing.

 

There are two mandatory reports which must be sent to Congress by DoD (for all applicable weapon system programs) before a full rate production can be made: the Live Fire Test & Evaluation (LFT&E) Report and the BLRIP (Beyond Low Rate Initial Production) Report. These reports are issued by the Director of Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) and are sent directly to Congress by the Director after LFT&E and IOT&E (Initial Operational Test & Evaluation) have been completed. The LFT&E Report is required from all programs covered by the Live Fire Testing Section in Title 10, U S Code. This report informs Congress of the results of Lethality testing and Vulnerability testing. The Lethality components of LFT&E address the firepower (or kill capability) of the weapon system and the Vulnerability component addresses the capability of the system to provide protection to the crew in combat conditions.