The Test and Evaluation (T&E) process is an integral part of the Systems Engineering Process (SEP), which identifies levels of performance and assists the developer in correcting deficiencies. It is a significant element in the decision-making process, providing data that support trade-off analysis, risk reduction, and requirements refinement. Program decisions on system performance maturity and readiness to advance to the next phase of development take into consideration demonstrated performance. The issue of paramount importance to the service-member user is system performance; i.e., will it fulfill the mission. The T&E process provides data that tell the user how well the system is performing during development and if it is ready for fielding. The Program Manager (PM) must balance the risks of cost, schedule, and performance to keep the program on track to production and fielding. The responsibility of decision-making authorities centers on assessing risk tradeoffs. As stated in Department of Defense Directive (DoDD) 5000.1, The Defense Acquisition System, “Test and evaluation shall be integrated throughout the defense acquisition process.
Test and evaluation shall be structured to provide essential information to decision makers, assess attainment of technical performance parameters, and determine whether systems are operationally effective, suitable, survivable, and safe for intended use. The conduct of test and evaluation, integrated with modeling and simulation, shall facilitate learning, assess technology maturity and inter-operability, facilitate integration into fielded forces, and confirm performance against documented capability needs and adversary capabilities as described in the system threat assessment.”1
1.2 TESTING AS A RISK MANAGEMENT TOOL
Correcting defects in weapons has been estimated to add from 10 percent to 30 percent to the cost of each item.2 Such costly redesign and modification efforts can be reduced if carefully planned and executed T&E programs are used to detect and fix system deficiencies early in the acquisition process (Figure 1-1). Fixes instituted during early work efforts (Systems Integration (SI)) in the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) Phase cost significantly less than those implemented after the Critical Design Review (CDR), when most design decisions have already been made. T&E results figure prominently in the decisions reached at design and milestone reviews. However, the fact that T&E results are required at major decision points does not presuppose that T&E results must always be favorable. The final decision responsibility lies with the decision maker who must examine the critical issues and weigh the facts. Only the decision maker can determine the weight and importance that is to be attributed to a system’s capabilities and shortcomings and the degree of risk that can be accepted. The decision-making authority will be unable to make this judgment without a solid base of information provided by T&E.